People from a range of arts organisations gathered at The Tetley on Thursday (5 February 2015) to discuss how they could influence the redevelopment of the ‘South Bank’.
The South Bank is the ex-industrial zone of Hunslet and Holbeck close to the river. As we revealed in our February newspaper, there are already many arts organisations operating the area. Kerry Harker from The Tetley art gallery told the meeting she had identified 19 organisations working in the area. She said she was keen to see them influence the redevelopment and avoid art being added on at the end of the process as an afterthought.
Martin Farrington, Leeds City Council’s Director of City Development explained the potential of the area and the council’s thinking. He explained the area covered 136 hectares (336 acres) and had a large number of big redevelopment sites such as the 9 hectare Tetley brewery site. He described the infrastructure has being a legacy from Leeds’ motorway city of the 1970s vision – large roads, but inhospitable to pedestrians.
Simon Baker from Group Ginger said that there were many big decisions to be taken about developing in the area including the location of the High Speed Rail station. But he argued that it would be a mistake to wait for someone to make the first move. Things could be done now that would not hamper future plans, but might help set the tone for how the area develops.
He suggested, for example, narrowing Meadow Lane, south of Leeds Bridge to a single lane in each direction and either developing the island site – an enlarged version of the current car park – or creating a short term or ‘meanwhile’ use. He had also identified 30 sites along the route of the proposed Hunslet Stray for public art. He suggested that these should follow a common theme, but could be quite cheap and completed quickly.
The discussion went on to consider how this fitted into the city’s proposed bid to be European City of Culture in 2023. David Lumb from Leeds Sustainable Development Group suggested that the bid could be the city’s excuse to work in a more collaborative way. He said it doesn’t matter if we win, we can improve the city through the bidding process. Others suggested we ignore 2023 and just get on with it.
With clear support for the public art project in the room, Group Ginger agreed to co-ordinate a smaller group to bring concrete proposals forward.