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Leeds declares 20,000 homes target to boost city living

Leeds City Council is looking at giving city centre living a major boost after identifying enough brownfield land to deliver 20,000 new homes by 2028.

Approximately 10,000 homes could be developed in the city centre core, including South Bank and Holbeck, the council said, with a further 10,000 in the surrounding Hunslet Riverside, East Street Corridor, Northern Gateway and West End and Kirkstall Corridor, incorporating Kirkstall Forge.

The West Yorkshire city is now looking to play a proactive role in brokering relationships between funders and developers and working with the Government to invest in infrastructure to unlock the sites to deliver a broad mix of housing types, tenure and price.

Distributed across 84 sites in the six separate ‘zones’, they are said to offer an unparalleled opportunity to create vibrant and mixed communities with good quality housing and high standards of design as Leeds looks to double the size of its city centre.

Leeds is already delivering more new homes per annum than any other core city, it claims, but city centre residential delivery has been slower to recover in recent year. Now, it is seeking to accelerate that development as it looks to cater for a working age population that is increasing at a higher rate than both the EU as a whole, and key European cities including Berlin, Madrid, and Milan.

The six identified key zones include the city centre core, which is capable of delivering nearly 2,000 homes; South Bank and Holbeck, supporting around 7,600 homes; Hunslet Riverside, 1,885 homes; East Street Corridor, 1,350 homes; The Northern Gateway, 2,707 homes and the West End and Kirkstall Corridor with 4,253 homes.

These include a wide range of schemes from innovative high-quality ‘niche’ developments such as the Climate Innovation District at Low Fold, which will offer 312 zero-carbon apartments and houses to mixed tenure communities, including local authority owned housing such as East Bank (Saxton Gardens).

In order to unlock funding and stimulate investment, the authority is looking to work in partnership with the private sector exploring a variety of flexible funding models including pump priming, patient investments and grant funding, as well as looking at ways it can underwrite risk.

It’s also looking at its investment strategy to focus on ‘people-centric’ infrastructure that will improve city centre connectivity and the attractiveness of sites as places to live, to encourage developers to bring projects forward. Land assembly and site acquisition will also play a major role in bringing the plans to fruition.

“Ensuring that Leeds has a vibrant city centre that everyone can benefit from is at the heart of the council’s plans. Key to that is attractive, thriving communities that people want to live in and delivering a wide variety of housing types and tenures to suit all life stages,” said Councillor Judith Blake, leader of the council.

“Leeds has one of the fastest growing economies and workforces in the UK with 140,000 people working in the city centre alone. Transforming our brownfield sites into these attractive communities supports regeneration, continued economic growth and public services, helping to avoid the problems that some cities have faced of low levels of occupation of the city centre at weekends. We are taking a proactive approach to boosting housing delivery locally and providing an example of best practice nationally.”

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