Leeds council propose major developments to city centre with 'Leeds Innovation Arc'

Leeds City Council are proposing a series of major developments to the Western part of the city, which aim to bring in new businesses and jobs, as well as improving public spaces.

Plans include 3,000 new homes, two new city parks, and improvements to public areas and walkways.

The proposal, which has named the area Leeds Innovation Arc, hopes to attract new businesses into the city by creating 1,000,000 sq ft of new floor space, and repurposing 1,000,000 sq foot of heritage buildings.

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It also aims to bring together some of the city’s major centres for research including universities and hospitals, allowing for more collaboration between institutions, as well as with businesses and employers.

Leeds Innovation Arc aims to bring in new businesses and jobs to the city, as well as improving public spaces.Leeds Innovation Arc aims to bring in new businesses and jobs to the city, as well as improving public spaces.
Leeds Innovation Arc aims to bring in new businesses and jobs to the city, as well as improving public spaces.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, noted the benefits he felt could be achieved through the project.

“The thing that really excites me is the opportunity to bring together three key institutions in the city,” he said.

“We can bring together the universities, the health service, and the council, and really play into our strengths to deliver some significant development and job opportunities for the city.”

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The proposed development area curves through the city from Woodhouse Moore, past the University of Leeds buildings, and down to Wellington place, near Leeds Central Station.

New walking and cycling routes are proposed, as well as new transport links.

The proposal also includes the development of new flexible workspaces for businesses and universities to use.

Eve Roodhouse, chief officer for culture and economy at Leeds City Council, noted how similar collaborative projects are already being undertaken in the area by the University of Leeds through their Nexus service, which links university experts with businesses.

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“Nexus is an example of the nature of spaces that we're going to create and they've had huge success already,” she said.

“It's about spin-outs from the university, but it's also about spin-ins, so the businesses that have been attracted to the area can tap into the expertise that exist within the universities and grow.

Cllr Lewis also noted that the proposals seek to take advantage of Leeds’s growing tech sector.

“We've got a workforce in this city of around 450,000, and already 10 per cent of people that is people in tech and startup businesses, It's a significant chunk of our economy at the moment, and is only going to get bigger as we move forward,” he said.

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Cllr Lewis noted his belief that such developments could be beneficial to those on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.

“Having an approach like this is about looking at economic development, but also how we link some of the most deprived parts of the city into areas we know are going to have high job growth,” he said.

“A lot of the most deprived areas of Leeds are around the city centre, so it’s about linking those areas with institutions like colleges and universities that are able to give people the skills and opportunities to be part of the tech centre.”