Senior councillors in Leeds will be asked next week to approve creating a new fund to help transform the waterfront of the city centre with culture being placed at the heart of its future.
The meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board to be held at Civic Hall on Wednesday 27 June will be asked to formally endorse the Waterfront Charter put forward by the Leeds Chamber of Commerce and partners earlier this year, which aims to help the waterfront area achieve its cultural and economic potential.
The key to its success is partnership working, with landowners along the River Aire through the city centre and South Bank being encouraged to sign up to the charter which would see all stakeholders commit to working together for the benefit of the waterfront area and city as a whole.
To support this approach, the council is proposing to establish a Waterfront Investment Fund of up to £100,000 which would offer grant funding for activities to enhance the waterfront by making it more accessible and attractive. The fund, which would be expected to begin later this year, would operate through a system whereby any successful bid would need to at least be match-funded by the applicants.
The plan would support the delivery of the council’s inclusive growth strategy through stimulating economic development, as well as the Cultural Strategy by making the most of public spaces and providing a platform for the 2023 cultural programme in the city.
Improving the attractiveness and maximising the potential of the waterfront and the surrounding riverside are also key elements of the South Bank framework, enhancing connectivity with the rest of the city centre as part of one of the largest regeneration schemes of its type in Europe.
The Waterfront Charter which has been led by the chamber of commerce and partners would see culture underpinning all development in the area. It would support local communities and celebrate their diversity, opening up possible venues and assets and rethinking public spaces into attractive and welcoming places where culture can thrive.
Visitors will be able to see for themselves what the area has to offer with the Leeds Waterfront Festival which takes place this weekend (June 23-24), offering a range of free activities and entertainment for all ages at Leeds Dock, Royal Armouries, Granary Wharf and Brewery Wharf. For more details on the festival, which is supported by Leeds City Council, visit https://canalrivertrust.org.uk
The leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:
“The momentum is really building now in the South Bank area of the city centre, with families moving in, thousands of students learning there every day and major new businesses investing in the area.
We are firmly committed to now looking at how we can maximise the opportunities offered on and alongside the River Aire, which runs through the heart of our city is a wonderful natural asset which up to now has been underutilised as a resource to make our city more attractive, welcoming and prosperous.
“The Waterfront Charter and investment fund aims to change that by getting stakeholders and partners to all work together to transform the waterfront and its surroundings, importantly maintaining a people and community-first approach using culture as the key element underpinning all developments.
We’d like to thank the chamber of commerce and partners for their excellent work leading the way to get us to this point. The potential of the waterfront is huge which is why this is such an exciting project for the local communities, all stakeholders and everyone in Leeds to benefit from.”
Tim Waring, Director at planning consultants Quod and Chair of the Chamber’s Waterfront Group, said:
“Following the publication of our Waterfront Report in March 2017, the chamber has been working with stakeholders to put into action the recommendations of the Report. This included the creation of a Waterfront Charter which we hope landowners, occupiers, developers and other stakeholders will sign up to, to say they will make their part of the waterfront an attractive and accessible space.
With more development coming forward in South Bank Leeds, the river and canal network, will in the future be right in the heart of the city centre. Over the past year or so, we have seen a good level of commitment to improving and activating the waterfront, and this has set a strong foundation for everybody with an interest in the waterfront, to take responsibility and respond to this ‘call to action’.
“We are hoping that more businesses (owners and occupiers) will commit to the charter and do their bit to make the waterfront a key part of our city. We are especially delighted to see Leeds City Council sharing our enthusiasm to bring about a waterfront which we can all be proud of. The proposal for a Waterfront Investment Fund is a tangible demonstration that, working together, we can move this agenda forward.”
To see the executive board report go to https://democracy.leeds.gov.uk – agenda item 10.