Public consultation begins on ambitious South Bank Leeds proposals to double the size of Leeds city centre

Leeds, Leeds Star

An online public consultation on ambitious proposals to regenerate the South Bank area of Leeds and effectively double the size of the city centre has started today.

The consultation, which will run for three months until 15 November, asks for views on proposals to form a framework for future development of South Bank Leeds. The area is of pivotal importance to the city and regional economy as one of the largest regeneration schemes of its type in Europe.

Background information on the South Bank Leeds proposals can now be seen at https://southbankleeds.co.uk/shapeyourcity, along with a questionnaire survey asking for views and priorities, comments and ideas which will help shape future development decisions on the scheme. The questionnaire leads on a series of general questions about the proposals, followed by an additional section for those keen to engage in a more detailed way.

Alongside the online consultation a series of drop-in sessions will take place in the coming weeks, along with special workshops on specific aspects of the proposals to be held in September and October. Details of these sessions are being finalised and will be available shortly on the website, with those keen to attend encouraged to email southbank@leeds.gov.uk to register their interest and indicate which days and times would be most suitable for them to be available.

The information and questionnaire can be accessed using the public computers at any Leeds City Council-managed library or one-stop shop, while the discussion about South Bank Leeds will also be held online using the hashtag #southbankleeds.

Views can also be expressed to the email address southbank@leeds.gov.uk, and should groups or organisations wish to host their own event as part of the consultation the council would be keen to help support such activities taking place.

Covering an area the size of 250 football pitches, the ambition for South Bank Leeds is to provide more than 35,000 jobs and over 4,000 homes and for it to become a leading European destination for living, working and leisure. It will also be home to a new educational hub accessed by over 10,000 students as well as featuring community facilities and leisure attractions to further strengthen connections with surrounding areas and the wider city as a whole.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:

“We are very pleased to be launching this public consultation as the next phase in the development of South Bank Leeds. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to transform an area of our city not only into a fantastic economic driver of jobs and growth but also an attractive place for people to live, learn, work and visit.

“It will also greatly enhance and expand the city centre so a major challenge is how to integrate developments in the South Bank with the surrounding communities and the wider city. We also need to make the most of high speed rail and the tremendous opportunities provided by the redevelopment of Leeds Station.

“So I would encourage everyone to get involved and tell us what they think as in many ways South Bank is going to be a huge influence on the future direction of our city and the lives of thousands of people in Leeds and beyond.”

Key elements of the South Bank Leeds regeneration framework for consultation include:

  • A vision for the redeveloped Leeds Station (Yorkshire Hub as it is also being called) maximising the opportunities of high-speed rail through an architectural statement reflecting the city. It also offers the chance to transform the areas around the station as a major destination and also to create a new commercial zone of international significance
  • Maximising the River Aire and surrounding areas as a major leisure, events and recreation space for people of all ages to engage with
  • Creation of six pieces of public open space as well as areas for events, play and animation. These would include a forecourt for HS2
  • Transformation of the road network in the South Bank to complement facilities, with a focus on public transport access and pedestrian and cycle-friendly through a ‘city boulevard’ approach
  • New routes from the South Bank to adjoining neighbourhoods to improve connectivity, and land uses to support the creation of a range of employment opportunities
  • The creation of a city centre ‘green park’ to serve the area and the wider city
  • Vision of a mixed-use neighbourhood, with clusters of land uses for commercial development, residential and housing, community facilities and education
  • Nurturing the growth of independent food, beverage and retail in the area
  • Potential for landmark, taller buildings and major leisure destinations to be developed
  • Innovative ways of protecting the area from flood risks including channelling and urban forests

A key element of the proposals is how to integrate and maximise the opportunities around the redevelopment of Leeds Station for the arrival of high-speed HS2 and HS3 rail, with the station becoming a key national transport interchange busier than Gatwick Airport currently is. The redevelopment also offers the chance to remodel the areas surrounding the station into commercial centres and welcoming destinations in their own right, and Leeds City Council is currently working with key partners and stakeholders on improvement proposals for the station in the short, medium and long terms.

The public consultation is also seeking views on the feasibility of key infrastructure elements such as the use of public spaces, the role of a new city park and how best to connect the area with a fully integrated transport network.

Views are also requested on cultural aspects such as the use of public spaces and play areas, as well as an innovative approach to architecture and maximising the possibilities offered by the River Aire with the area potentially playing a key role in the Leeds bid to become 2023 European Capital of Culture.

Apart from the three-month public consultation, Leeds City Council will also continue to discuss the South Bank Leeds proposals with all key local community, business and stakeholder groups and forums.

To take part in the consultation visit https://southbankleeds.co.uk/shapeyourcity

Notes to editors:

The economic attractiveness of South Bank Leeds is already being demonstrated with leading companies such as Vastint, Burberry, Citu and CEG committing more than £500million worth of investment into the area in the last year. Planning permissions have now been granted for more than a thousand new homes while the area will also feature a new £125m Climate Innovation District of eco-friendly housing.