Skyscraper cut down to size in new plan for Leeds centre

The site of the Lumiere development in Leeds
The site of the Lumiere development in Leeds
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WITH its gleaming towers, the soaring landmark earmarked for the heart of a booming Yorkshire city seemed to epitomise the optimism of the years leading up to the economic crisis of 2008.

Lumiere in Leeds would have been the tallest residential building in western Europe, but in common with many ambitious projects, the plans were scrapped at the start of the credit crunch and the site of the planned development on Wellington Street has since become an eyesore.

Now plans have been submitted to build a more modest office and hotel complex there instead as planners at Leeds City Council also examine further proposals to develop another mothballed city site on Sovereign Street and to revive Clarence Dock, which has struggled to attract visitors since it opened in 2008.

The “realistic” proposals have been praised by Leeds Civic Trust director Kevin Grady, who said: “The days of the 50-storey tower are over for the foreseeable future.”

Next Thursday members of Leeds City Council’s city centre plans panel will study a pre-application presentation for an office and hotel scheme up to 11 storeys high for the former Lumiere site.

Lumiere was due to boast two glass towers, which would have been 54 and 32 storeys in height respectively.

All of the £225m development’s flats were sold ahead of construction work starting in December 2007.

Prices started at £110,000 for a studio flat while a two-bedroomed apartment would have set its buyer back £280,000.

However, by the summer of 2008 construction was on hold as the credit crunch began to bite.

Developer Kevin Linfoot, the driving force behind the project, said it would have been “commercial suicide” to continue – but also predicted that the development would go ahead eventually.

Just over six months later his KW Linfoot Plc firm went into administration.

In February, Deloitte, the liquidators of the former Lumiere development, appointed EC Harris as asset managers for the site with a view to obtaining revised planning consent for an office scheme with a hotel.

The council’s plans panel for the city centre will on Thursday also consider a pre-application for a proposed four-storey office building and green space in Sovereign Street in Leeds.

The land had been chosen as the site for the proposed £115m Criterion Place “Kissing Towers” scheme, which was also scrapped in 2008.

Its twin towers, one 47 and the other 27 storeys tall, would have had space for 300 apartments and a 160-bed hotel.

A city council spokesman said more information about the developer behind the proposed Sovereign Street scheme would be released next week.

The panel’s meeting will also discuss the next phase in the re-development of Clarence Dock, which was recently bought by Allied London.

The new owners want to re-brand the site as New Dock, the name it had from the 19th century until the 1990s.

At the meeting, Allied London will present its plans to promote New Dock as a destination for start-up, digital and creative firms.