Gateway to city set for lift-off following sale deal

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A ‘Gateway’ site in a Yorkshire city which has been disused for years could soon become a place to live and work following a multi-million pound property deal.

Bilfinger GVA yesterday revealed that it has successfully completed the sale of a large development in Leeds city centre.

The combined Bridge House and Compton House site has been acquired on behalf of administrators by Park Lane Properties.

The site already has planning permission for a mixed-use scheme, including 10-storey and 28-storey towers with 272 apartments, 25,000 sq ft of office space and a 1,900 sq ft retail unit.

Bridge House and the adjoining Compton House form a 0.42 acre site on the junction of Leeds’ inner ring road and Wellington Street, a main route into Leeds city centre, which has also become the central “spine” of Leeds’ emerging West End.

Joel Crossfield, the associate in Bilfinger GVA’s Leeds valuation team, said yesterday: “The Bridge House and Compton House site is a major development opportunity in Leeds city centre, and offers great potential to the new owner.

“As the marketplace for quality prime development sites has become relatively buoyant in recent months, this site received interest from numerous parties, particularly thanks to its prime location in Leeds’ emerging West End.”

Park Lane Properties are drawing up detailed plans for the site.

Andrew Foster, a senior director at Bilfinger GVA, said GVA had first become involved with the site in 2009, when it was already derelict.

He said the current planning permission for development there was secured in 2005, and this permission was extended in 2011.

Mr Foster said its position on the main western gateway to Leeds had helped to generate a lot of interest for the sale.

There have been a number of plans to re-develop the site over the last 15 years. In 2002, plans were submitted for a multi-million pound tower block on the site, which was already branded an eyesore.

At the time, it was proposed that the buildings on the site would be replaced by a mixture of offices and apartments. However, the scheme never came to fruition.

In 2007, at the height of the property boom, the area was also considered an ideal location for a hotel. Eight years ago, the Kenmore Property Group said it wanted to create a hotel on the Bridge House and Compton House site, despite warnings from leading industry figures that the hotel market in Leeds was already saturated.

The global economic crash of 2008 brought the vast majority of building work in Leeds to a halt. However, as the economic climate has improved, more developments have got off the ground in the West End of Leeds.

One of the key players in this renewed activity has been MEPC. MEPC played a significant role in kickstarting the economic recovery of Leeds when it started work in 2013 on the first major office to be built in the city since the financial crisis.

MEPC secured law firm Shulmans and private bank Brown Shipley as tenants for the 35,000 sq ft building at Wellington Place.

MEPC is developing two new office blocks at its Wellington Place scheme. Global law firm Squire Patton Boggs, which has 270 staff in Leeds, has signed up for 32,000 sq ft of space. Elsewhere in the city, KPMG is due to move into its new premises of its own at a 60,000 sq ft office at Sovereign Square this autumn.