Detailed proposals for Aire Park, a landmark for Leeds, and the largest new city centre green space in the UK, have been officially approved by Leeds City Council’s plans panel.
Developer Vastint UK put forward the plans as part of its major redevelopment for the former Tetley Brewery site with public space at its heart. The park will feature a series of connected and diverse open spaces, allowing it to be used year-round, day and evening and for a multitude of purposes. Vastint UK will work with Leeds City Council to create and manage the new park and construction is expected to start early 2021.
The news follows the announcement that £8.6 million from the governments Getting Building Fund will be committed to deliver additional park space and infrastructure around the development as part of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s mission to boost economic growth and aid the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Aire Park will be the catalyst to accelerate the delivery of major regeneration for the South Bank, supported by the installation of a new River Aire footbridge from Sovereign Square, linking the park to Leeds Station.
Prioritising green spaces and pedestrian and cycles routes connecting the city centre to the south of Leeds, Aire Park will help with the number one priority for Leeds: to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality in the city centre.
Details of the first two hectares of the park include the following distinct areas and elements:
- The Tetley Triangle: An exciting new and dynamic public event space suitable for concerts, markets and outdoor cinema will be approximately half the size of Millennium Square, animated by surrounding shops, cafés, homes and offices. The Tetley Triangle will be bounded by the iconic Tetley building and the Grade II listed Salem Chapel. Planning is expected in the coming weeks for 28,000sqm of office space to complete the Tetley Triangle, as a key boost to the economic potential of the South Bank district.
- Theatre Gardens: A modern ornamental and sensory garden for quiet enjoyment, connecting the park to the River Aire with pedestrian pathways.
- Central Park: A large, green park space between The Tetley and Crown Point Road including play and/or exercise areas, a water feature or sculpture, grassed areas and significant parkland. A sweeping path will connect the park to the residential area.
- The Green: A grassed and stepped amphitheatre and seating area for informal performance, a similar size to Merrion Gardens.
- The Hunslet Stray: A 6m-wide communal pathway connecting pedestrians and cyclists from north to south from Leeds Bridge.
- The Cherry Walk: An enchanting avenue of cherry trees.
- A meadow path: Bringing a sense of countryside to the city centre.
- A 1km exercise route: Weaving between the trees, the running/dog-walking/strolling route will circle around Aire Park.
Leeds City Council is keen to make the park an asset for the city and so will take a 250-year lease of the completed park from Vastint UK to manage, operate and maintain the park, with financial and governance support from Vastint UK. An additional 1.5 hectares is expected to be included in the second phase of development.
Last week planning permission was also granted by Leeds City Council for Vastint UK to restore and expand the The Crown pub within Aire Park, a much loved former pub which is now derelict. The ground floor will house a local pub and restaurant within the original Victorian building, while the extension will be home to new retail and office space.
Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake said:
“The approval of this development is fantastic news not just for the South Bank but the whole of Leeds, providing a spectacular new Aire Park for people and communities to enjoy as well as helping to deliver major supporting benefits. It will boost the regeneration of the area, encourage new jobs, investment and growth, and will also help to tackle climate change and will be a thoroughly modern, child-friendly 21st century park accessible to all.
“Most importantly it also responds to what people clearly told us they wanted to see in the South Bank in terms of major green space, so we’d like to thank Vastint UK and all the other stakeholders and partners involved in making it happen. We will watch its development with keen interest, and we cannot wait to see it open.”
Chair of the city plans panel Councillor Jim McKenna said:
“The new park will act as a major visitor attraction, event space and destination people will want to spend time, acting as a centrepiece for the South Bank connecting together local and surrounding communities with the city centre and the rest of Leeds. As a panel we understand the importance of this project for the city and we have been committed to ensuring the development is of the highest possible standards for the people of Leeds to benefit from for generations to come.”
Andrew Cobden, Managing Director of Vastint UK said:
“We have worked closely with Leeds City Council throughout the planning stages to understand the needs and aspirations for the city, ensuring every detail of Aire Park is designed with these in mind. Securing planning consent for the park means these underutilised industrial areas will be transformed into a significant green space for the people of Leeds and visitors to enjoy as part of a thriving district for new homes and businesses. We also hope that the rebirth of The Crown, which is so rich in local history, will become a park-side venue for locals in the years to come. This development will make a huge difference in supporting Leeds growth by transforming the South Bank.”
To see more on South Bank Leeds visit www.southbankleeds.co.uk
For more information on Aire Park visit www.airepark.co.uk