THOUSANDS of new homes could be delivered in Leeds city centre, helping to double its size and create a more liveable city, if a bid for around £60 million of funding is granted.
Leeds City Council has finalised its bid for investment from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) as part of Leeds Living, a programme intended to increase the opportunity to build thousands more new and “affordable” city centre homes by investing in area-wide infrastructure.
The council says it is building new homes at a faster rate than any other UK Core City and currently around 25,000 people live in its city centre. With demand for city centre living continuing to rise, there is capacity for up to 20,000 more homes to be built – 8,500 of which would be unlocked by 2033 through a successful HIF bid.
The HIF investment would fund improved connectivity by delivering bridges over highways and waterways, realigned and structured roads to improve cycling and pedestrian access to connect developments and communities to the city. This new infrastructure would support a range of high-quality and supposedly affordable housing choices for families, as well as help to develop sustainable residential and mixed-use neighbourhoods.
“The Housing Infrastructure Fund bid forms part of our ambitious, city-wide investment plans for new housing – but we can only build more city centre homes if we improve connectivity and stitch the new homes into the fabric of our city, allowing them to come forward for delivery,” said Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council.
“New housing and regeneration schemes have a huge part to play in tackling inequality across the city. As a compassionate city with a strong economy, Leeds is committed to placing the needs of its residents at the heart of our plans for inclusive growth. Schemes like South Bank show what can be achieved by targeted investment in a range of new facilities to expand the city centre, making it a place where people and families want to live and work.
“Our communities, their aspirations and quality of life, are a focal point within our overall city vision. A healthy and functioning city centre housing market will support the provision of new shared amenities including schools, health facilities, and new public open spaces for leisure and recreation.”
The council says it hopes that by unlocking this funding, more schemes using modern infrastructure with sustainable living at their heart will be developed. It cites as an example, developer Citu’s £125m Climate Innovations District in Hunslet (pictured), part of the South Bank which has already welcomed its first occupiers. It is said to be the UK’s largest urban sustainable development will include 515 low-carbon family homes, offices, leisure facilities and a pioneering home-building factory.
“We wanted to build for a mixed community of young people, families and downsizers,” said Chris Thompson, Citu’s founder and managing director.
“Every element in the creation of this village has energy preservation at the forefront and we are building and installing onsite. We’re keen to help Leeds to be the first city in the UK to create an ecologically pioneering district of this scale as part of its Smart Cities Programme.
“We have also installed a main bridge across the River Aire, meaning people living in the Hunslet area will cross 11 fewer roads to access the city centre and cycle time to the station is cut to just six minutes, creating a safer environment to live.”
Currently 2,232 new homes are under construction in Leeds city centre. This includes 700 homes by Dandara on Leodis Street in Holbeck and 232 apartments at Wellington Street being delivered by Grainger. More than 60 additional schemes in the city centre and fringe areas have been granted planning permission, providing a wide range of mixed-tenure, viable and sustainable homes – including Moda’s 515-apartment SOYO scheme at Quarry Hill and CEG’s development of 700 new homes at Globe Road and Water Lane in Holbeck.