Leeds Convention Centre: Council bosses consider ditching plan for controversial new events venue

Council bosses are considering dropping controversial plans to build a new convention centre in Leeds, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

Leeds City Council secured outline planning permission for the new conference centre on the site of the old Yorkshire Bank building close to the First Direct Arena in November 2022 despite strong opposition from the Harrogate Convention Centre over concerns about the impact on its business.

But the council has now confirmed to The Yorkshire Post that it is now exploring other options for expanding the city's capacity to host conferences. It came after a source, who did not wish to be named, told this newspaper that the scheme was being put on hold.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A council spokesperson said no final decision has been made and an "announcement will be made in due course" on the best way forward.

An artist's impression of the potential venueAn artist's impression of the potential venue
An artist's impression of the potential venue

The spokesperson said: “Leeds is already a heavyweight national presence in the business events sector, with the city being consistently named one of the UK’s top 10 conferencing destinations.

“Conferences generated more than £150m for the Leeds economy in 2022 alone and we are therefore committed to exploring all opportunities that will help make us an even more attractive choice for the organisers of major events.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“One option we have is the proposal for a multi-use events building on Clay Pit Lane, outline planning permission for which was secured in 2022.

“At the same time, we are currently working with external partners on further options for enhancing the city’s conference facilities.

“It would be premature at this stage to comment in detail on that work.

“Once we have assessed all the options available to us and decided which would deliver the maximum benefit to the city, then an announcement will be made in due course.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“In the meantime, the long-term plans for the Clay Pit Lane site remain very much on the table.”

The potential convention centre is part of wider plans for the site including the building of new student accommodation.

When the outline planning application was approved, a council report at the time noted that a detailed business case for the events venue had yet to be brought forward which meant “limited details” were available for how it would look.

But the report stated: “The venue is anticipated to host corporate banqueting, awards ceremonies, live entertainment, conferences and exhibitions, together with gigs and shows which require a more intimate space than is offered by the First Direct Arena, but larger capacities than existing venues in Leeds.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Politicians and businesses in Harrogate had opposed the plans on the grounds it would have a severe impact on the town’s own conference calendar and visitor economy.

But Leeds Council said an expert report had concluded the impact of the new venue on Harrogate would be “reasonably negligible”.

Since outline planning permission was granted, the Royal Armouries venue across the city has grown its reputation as a conference venue – with its flagship events now including the hosting of a major annual real estate conference called UKREiiF for thousands of delegates.

This Friday, it will host the Convention of the North political conference with speakers including Michael Gove and Angela Rayner.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.