Where did you hear about us?
The monthly magazine providing news analysis and professional research for the discerning private investor/landlord

Leeds: Property Market, Regeneration & Development

Mark Hempshell reports

Not all northern towns and cities have fared well when it comes to transitioning from their industrial roots. It could be said that Leeds is a notable exception however. The city has reinvented itself around a modern economy fairly successfully in recent decades. In this report we will look at what is going on in Leeds right now and at what the future might bring.

Population trends underpin the fact that Leeds is a major regional if not national draw for business, commerce and employment. ONS figures show that the population grew from around 750,000 to 812,000 over the last decade alone.

Traditional industries here were textiles, engineering, printing and chemicals. Although manufacturing is still found here, a local authority report says that financial and business services now account for 38% of total output, and that the creative and digital sector is now a key industry. A number of major UK and international companies are either headquartered here or have large presences in the city. The city is also the largest regional centre for public administration, health, education and retail.

A recent Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) report says that Leeds city centre is the most productive part of Yorkshire. It claims that Leeds is one of only two UK core cities that are a net contributor to the exchequer.

It will come as no surprise that Leeds is a major university centre. The city has six higher education institutions including the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University. There are around 70,000 students in the city with numbers having risen by around 10,000 in a decade. Of significance to the economy and property market here is that Leeds is one of the UK’s few ‘brain gain’ cities – more students move to the city than leave to study elsewhere. According to Savills, around 27% of students who come to study in Leeds stay here after graduation.

A not-so-good news story is Leeds’ relatively backward transport network based around cars and buses using congested roads. Leeds is said to be the biggest city in western Europe without a commuter rail or metro network. Plans have recently been announced to begin development of one.

The arrival of the HS2 high speed railway in Leeds was often quoted as being paramount to the future of the city. Cancellation of the line in 2021 does not seem to have impacted its popularity as a business and development location however. Indeed there is already an existing frequent, fast (2 hours approx.) rail service to London. Other regional rail improvements may be of more benefit to the city: Work on the Transpennine Route Upgrade to provide more capacity and faster services between York, Leeds and Manchester is now underway. The government is also promising funding for the electrification and upgrading of the currently fairly slow line between Leeds and Sheffield. 

Want the full article?