Kirkstall Forge project wins first major tenant

A computer generated impression of the new office development at Kirkstall Forge
A computer generated impression of the new office development at Kirkstall Forge
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ZENITH, one of Britain’s largest independent leasing, fleet management and vehicle outsourcing businesses, has revealed that it plans to move its head office to one of Yorkshire’s most important regeneration sites.

Zenith is expected to transfer more than 300 staff from its current base in Calverley, near Leeds to a new, purpose-built building at Kirkstall Forge towards the end of next year.

It’s the first major company to sign a pre-let deal to establish a base at Kirkstall Forge, near Leeds, which will be served by a railway station from next month.

The £400m scheme promises to deliver 1,050 homes, 300,000 sq ft of offices and 100,000 sq ft of retail, leisure and community space at Kirkstall Forge, which is one of the oldest industrial sites in Europe. The vast site has been empty for around 14 years.

The developer behind the scheme, CEG, has also announced that it will move its northern office from Harrogate to Kirkstall Forge. CEG plans to turn the 57-acre site into a thriving mixed-use community in a wooded, riverside setting.

These two pre-let deals have been signed as the principle contractor Wates starts work on the first phase; an 110,000 sq ft, seven-storey Grade A office building, which will be ready for occupation in the third quarter of 2017.

The building received planning approval from Leeds City Council last year. Zenith will take more than 45,000 sq ft over the three upper floors, including a roof level meeting room suite.

Tim Buchan, the chief executive of Zenith, said: “The forge is another milestone in Zenith’s history and its location presents an opportunity to draw on the highly talented resources from within the North of England and establish a best-in-class headquarters for our future growth.”

CEG is also set to occupy almost 10,000 sq ft on the ground floor. The rest of the ground floor and three remaining floors are being marketed to potential occupiers. Lloyds Bank is providing the funding to secure this £40m office development.

Mr Buchan said: “What’s so fundamental for us is the ability to be able to bring our customers in by train, by plane, by bus, by car. This is what Kirkstall Forge represents for us. The train network here – we are just six minutes from Leeds – opens up a whole new opportunity.”

Jon Kenny, the director of CEG, said: “It is momentous to have secured a pre-let on this brand new speculative development. Securing two tenants and delivering key infrastructure, including the first new railway station in Leeds for decades, before starting development, is testament to the strength of the Leeds market and this site.”

Mr Kenny said he was talking to a wide range of businesses who had expressed an interest in moving to Kirkstall Forge.

He added: “Our target is to hand over a building to Zenith at the end of September 2017.”

Coun Judith Blake, the leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Together with the new rail station due to open shortly, Kirkstall Forge will deliver significant benefits with more than 1,000 new homes, more than 2,000 jobs, training opportunities and apprenticeships, as well as new retail, leisure and community facilities.”

THE KIRKSTALL Forge development will be pitched to global investors today at MIPIM, the annual conference for the world’s property industry which is taking place in Cannes on the French Riviera.

CEG, the developer behind the Kirkstall Forge development, is one of the sponsors of the Leeds City Region stand at MIPIM.

Kirkstall Forge is being marketed as the most ambitious project of its kind in the North of England.

The regeneration of the historic brownfield site has been supported by Leeds City Council, which approved a loan arrangement to enable the early delivery of a railway station, access road and car park in 2014. The site was used for industrial activity for 500 years.