Council chief promises talks on future of Tetley brewery site – and talks Kirkgate Market, NGT and Leeds Arena

Tetley Brewery plans
Alternative plans for the Tetley's site have been put forward

Crunch talks over the future of the Tetley’s Brewery site will be held between the council and the landowners, Leeds council chief executive Tom Riordan has said.

Tom Riordan

Riordan’s comments – made at last night’s AGM of city watchdog Leeds Civic Trust – followed concerns about proposals for the now abandoned Tetley’s site which include around 1,000 parking spaces. The concerns were raised by David Lumb of the Leeds Sustainable Development Group and Lumb called on the council to oppose the plans and support alternative proposals for the site.

“Is there anything we can do to work together to prevent things like this happening?” asked Lumb.

Riordan replied that any plans for the site would have to go through the planning process which he couldn’t influence, but added:

“We would want to retain as much of the heritage of the site as we can. I’ve just had a meeting with the council leader [Keith Wakefield] and we agreed to approach the owners of that site so they are clear where the council – and the city – are coming from. We aim to set up a meeting with them quickly to put forward our views.”

Riordan, who was the speaker at the AGM, said the council had just adopted a plan for a city centre park on the Tetley’s site and had wider plans for the area, including better links to places like Clarence Dock and Hunslet.

Notes from rest of AGM

City-wide issues discussed by Riordan in the rest of his talk and Q&A session included:

Public transport

Trust member Clifford Stead said he was sceptical about the stalled  New Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus scheme for Leeds ever getting government funding, following on the heels of the failed Supertram proposals, and would Leeds council consider putting together their own rapid transport scheme for the city?

Riordan said:

“We think we could. It will take a bit of work and political will at a time when we are cutting [services]. We can’t just borrow money for nothing, but it is an issue we are actively looking at. It wouldn’t be Supertram Mark II or NGT mark II and would need to be part of a  long-term intergrated vision for West Yorkshire.”

He was also hugely supportive of high speed rail 2 coming to Leeds and said the city needed the HS2 station to be based in the city centre.

Kirkgate Market

Riordan said that Kirkgate Market was a jewel that had suffered from underinvestment from successive council administrations of different political persuasions for years, but there was now a cross-party view that more needed to be done to restore it to its former glory. He said:

“It’s clear that it cannot stay as it is, we have to change it and we need to tackle the issues it faces head on. We need to make it a market that people from across Europe will want to come to. We have a fantastic building there.

“We have to ask how can we make it a bigger draw and making it a place where lots of different things are happening  – that doesn’t mean gentrifying it, but we do need to change it.”

Riordan said he would ‘love’ Kirkgate Market to be a tourist attraction ‘and we are in discussions about that’ and be ‘a place people want to come to again and do a range of things’.

Other issues

Riordan also touched on the council’s vision to make Leeds ‘the best city in the UK’. He said we needed to have more confidence and shout about our achievements a lot more, like Manchester does.

He also spoke about the economic future of Leeds, pointing to the new Trinity and Eastgate shopping developments and the new Leeds Arena which will all create new jobs, the importance. He also said he was confident that a new head of Marketing Leeds, which promotes the city, will be announced by the end of this month following lengthy delays.

Answering a question about people from deprived areas not being able to get into the city centre, Riordan also pointed to the need for more apprenticeships for young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and said the council had increased the number of apprenticeships in the building trade through conditions placed on developers submitting planning applications.

What do you think of Tom Riordan’s comments? Have your say in the comments section below.