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South Bank Leeds

Mark Hempshell reports

Leeds doesn’t have much in common with London but one similarity is that development south of the river has tended to lag that north of it to some extent. As with London, all that could be changing in Leeds too with the latest push to develop the South Bank area.

Leeds South Bank comprises a sizable area of land south of the River Aire covering the fringe of the city centre and the inner city suburbs of Holbeck and Hunslet. It is said to be one of Europe’s largest regeneration areas at 253 ha. It is predominantly former industrial land being the one-time home of mills and engineering works, including a number of heritage buildings, but is well-known locally for being the former site of Tetley’s Brewery.

South Bank benefits from a highly accessible location both within the city, regionally and nationally. The existing Leeds city centre is within walking distance. There is easy motorway access to the M1 and M621. Although the HS2 high speed rail line to Leeds, which would have had its Leeds terminus station in South Bank, has recently been cancelled, there could still be a new station of some kind here to accommodate regional rail improvements. Leeds’ existing main station, with its 2-hour journey time to London and extensive regional services, is close by in any case.

Leeds City Council’s Holbeck, South Bank SPD of 2016, envisages that a significant number of the 10,200 new homes required in the city centre by 2028 could be located here. Projections from 2018 suggest there could be up to 8,000 new homes as well as 35,000 jobs located in the area eventually.

South Bank’s industrial base has been in decline since the 1960s leaving a number of derelict and underutilised sites. However, there have been a number of commercial, retail and residential schemes in the area over the last few decades, which have met with varying degrees of success. Part of the area was rebranded as Holbeck Urban Village some years ago in a bid to attract city living and creative uses. Key past schemes include Granary Wharf, Sovereign Square, Bridgewater Place and Leeds Dock where the Royal Armouries Museum is located. The Asda HQ is located in the area while a new campus of the Leeds College of Building and Leeds City College have created a student presence here. The Tetley’s art deco office building has been converted into an arts centre.

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