Comment: Time for ‘One Leeds’ developers to talk to us here in the south

‘£1 billion World Trade Center plan could transform Leeds’ South Bank’ screamed the headline in the YEP recently.

A Tetley's trailer at the Tetley's brewery as seen from Crown Point Road before the brewery's closure. Photograph by Mtaylor848 used under Wikimedia creative commons
A Tetley’s trailer at the Tetley’s brewery as seen from Crown Point Road before the brewery’s closure. Photograph by Mtaylor848 used under Wikimedia creative commons

Centred around the Tetley site, a masterplan to help transform “Leeds’ South Bank” over the next 100 years has apparently been drawn up by ‘leading architects and developers in the city’.

The ‘One Leeds‘ proposal includes building a state-of-the-art World Trade Center exhibition and conference centre, up to 1,000 apartments, 1million sq ft of office space, 3,000 car parking spaces plus hotels, cafes, restaurants and shops. And there are also plans for a park and all kinds of shiny and exciting new things for the area – an ” urban eco-settlement” no less. Doubtless topped of with a partridge in a pear tree.

The regeneration of the area has long been mooted and discussed, most recently by the council and the Leeds Sustainable Development Group. A new free school is being built in the area,  and the possibility of a ‘city centre’ park has been discussed for years.

Some of these proposals make for fascinating reading. And regeneration of the area is, of course, very welcome but you need to put aside an almost inevitable ‘yeah, tight that’ll never happen …’ initial reaction.

Here at South Leeds Life we report on those areas because we don’t know the area as ‘city centre south’ or ‘Leeds South Bank’ we know them as ‘south Leeds’ or, more precisely, ‘Hunslet’. South Leeds is the area south of the river Aire, a former industrial heartland, cradle of the industrial revolution and all that stuff.

You can try to rebrand it as much as you like, but the area is where it is.

The YEP states:

“Developer One Leeds PLC has held talks over its South Bank plan with high-level council executives as far back as April 2013 and claims to have had “meaningful negotiations” with a major landowner in the area.

“The company has described the scheme as “one of the most significant urban developments the city will have ever witnessed in its 1,300-year history”.”

And our point is this.

It’s great One Leeds has been speaking to the important bods in the council and landowners, but when does it plan to speak to the people of Hunslet and Holbeck (and the local community groups there) about how the new development can have meaningful links to the people who live nearby and who have done for generations? What are these developments going to mean for them and south Leeds as a whole? Anybody care to approach us for our ideas in our area?

One Leeds managing durector Adam Sims says “…what excites me is the enormous enthusiasm from local stakeholders at all levels, and the wisdom and vision of organisations such as Leeds Civic Trust is invaluable.”

What’s needed here is genuine and meaningful engagement with local folk. The regeneration – if it isn’t just kiteflying by the developer or local authority – could well be the best thing since sliced bread – but we’re here, waiting to give our opinions and lend our local expertise and passion.

Question is: Are any of these people really interested with what we have to say?