Regeneration plans for oldest street in Leeds

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THE First phase of a regeneration project aimed at transforming the oldest street in Leeds to create a “vibrant cultural quarter” has been revealed.

A dilapidated area of Kirkgate – next to the landmark First White Cloth Hall building in Leeds city centre – is earmarked for a new development with proposed uses including flats, shops, restaurants and offices or artists’ workshops.

Developer City Fusion Ltd presented their vision for a new building at 101-104 Kirkgate and demolition and redevelopment of 10-11 Crown Street to members of Leeds City Council’s city plans panel.

A planning application is expected to be submitted later this year.

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The scheme includes the site of the old Hills Furniture store, which was demolished after a devastating fire in November 2015.

Simon Smithson, of Farsley-based Think Architecture and Design, told the meeting: “The scheme is an opportunity to start the regeneration of the whole area to form a new vibrant cultural quarter.”

Mr Smithson later told the YEP: “It is part of a bigger jigsaw for the whole site. We will shortly be submitting schemes for more properties on Kirkgate and an area at the back of the site, which is currentkly used as a car park.

“A large portion of the properties will be aimed at the independent and art sectors. To have an area that is maybe a bit bohemian and alternative is a good thing for the city.”

Coun Graham Latty (Cons/Guiseley and Rawdon), told the meeting: “I don’t feel in this context the building is doing anything to re-create or perpetuate the oldest street in Leeds. In design it is very harshly modern.”

Mr Smithson later said: “It is a contemporary piece of architecture based on the heritage of the area. It is slightly different, but than again we are not building in 1830. Building a pastiche of something would be quite disastrous in my view.”

- The First White Cloth Hall on Kirkgate dates back to 1710 and was one of the city’s most important buildings in the industrial revolution.

The current City Fusion scheme does not include the hall, which is the subject of separate discussions between Leeds City Council and City Fusion.

It is hoped the discussions will lead to the restoration of the hall using part of a £2.6m Townscape Heritage Initiative cashpot aimed at regenerating existing historic buildings on Kirkgate.