Future redevelopments in part of south Leeds present a “huge opportunity for the city”, and could lead to “radical ideas”, a panel of city councillors has heard.
The comments came during a Leeds City Council plans panel discussion on the Temple District Planning Brief, which would form part of the authority’s long term regeneration plans for the city’s south bank in an area to the north of Holbeck.
During a discussion on what could happen to the area, one councillor even suggested pedestrianising the whole district in order to prioritise more modern methods of transport.
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The meeting followed the recent announcement that the council was to pump an extra £5m into the renovation of the historic Temple Works building, in the hopes that the British Library will eventually open an attraction there by the end of the decade.
A report by Leeds City Council officers suggested guidance would be needed for further development in the area, which it feels is likely to generate interest in the coming years.
Some ideas include room for public open space, as well as a “landmark public square to enhance the setting of Temple Works”.
Panel member Coun Colin Campbell (Lib Dem) went one further, telling the meeting: “Why don’t we talk about doing something really radical, and saying ‘this is going to be a pedestrian area’?
“If we talk about it being possible to build a big housing development further down the canal, why can’t we talk about it here. The hierarchy should not be what it was in the past – cars then people.
“That whole bit of Holbeck lends itself to looking at it in a different way.”
The meeting’s chairman, Coun James McKenna (Lab), added: “You have my support on that one – cycling, walking, e-scooters, whatever!”
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A council officer responded: “When people see the drafts of the briefs, they will see we have prioritised that, and you should provide those comments to us as part of the consultation.”
The 11.75 hectare area covered by the “Temple District” is bounded to the north by the Leeds Liverpool canal, the west by the railway line and viaduct, Sweet Street West to the south with Siddal Street, David Street and the rear of the Marshalls Mill site forming the eastern boundaries.
Coun Paul Wadsworth (Con) said: “There has to be some viability. There are a lot of things to be considered in the brief. The phasing needs to be stuck to.
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“We need to make sure that even if it is all pedestrianised – if it is going to be delivered, I am all for it, but if it only gets half-delivered and is in an unfinished state, it is not going to please anybody.”
Coun McKenna added: “We will be consulted in September, and we will have a planning brief some time after that.
“Many of us around the table looked at this site for many years, so we are delighted we are hopefully moving forward. It would be a real draw hopefully moving the British Library in.
“It’s a huge, huge opportunity for the city – nothing has changed there for 15 years.”
A draft version of the planning brief is set to go before councillors in September.
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