Owners of Leeds Dock put site up for sale for £32m

THE development giant which transformed a major waterside development into a thriving office and leisure destination has put the site on the market for more than £32m.

Leeds Dock. PIC: Gemma Keir

Allied London is selling its interest in Leeds Dock for offers over £32m after five years of ownership, The Yorkshire Post can exclusively reveal.

The firm, which was behind Manchester’s Spinningfields development, is understood to have paid about £1.5m for the 150-year lease to the site, then known as Clarence Dock, when it was bought from its previous owner, property group Lend Lease, in 2012.

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Clarence Dock, failed to live up to its pre-launch hype after opening shortly before the financial crash in 2008.

Many of its retail units were never occupied and prices of its upmarket flats plummeted in the years following.

Allied London’s vision was to turn it into a “destination” site with offices sitting among successful restaurants and leisure facilities.

The 1.2m sq ft site now includes 1,100 apartments, providing homes to 1,800 residents, and is home to a workforce of 2,000.

Allied London’s economic interest is 161,845 sq ft and is multi-let to 16 tenants.

The investor rebranded the site and set about creating “a new office hub for digital and creative industries”.

Its proposals also sought to make the outdoor space more attractive for residents, workers and visitors to use during the day and in the evening.

Michael Ingall, Allied London chief executive, said the new masterplan was aimed at returning the site to the original intentions behind the dock’s redevelopment.

He said at the time: “It has become isolated due to inappropriate uses and the site’s inability to communicate with the immediate and surrounding communities.

“There’s nothing here. It’s become isolated because it has no spirit and it has no soul.”

More than three quarters of the rent today comes from office space and the rest from leisure/retail space.

About half of Leeds Dock’s rent comes from Sky, which opened its £6m Digital Centre of Excellence there last year and employs 650 staff.

The area is also home to the Mumtaz restaurant, which opened in 2009, and a number of creative and digital agencies. Yorkshire Water has an office there and the Royal Armouries museum is also at the site.

The reinvention has boosted Leeds’ South Bank, which sits 500 metres south east of the city centre.

Although the sale is being handled by a Manchester-based agent, it has caught the interest of Yorkshire property experts.

Ben Hall, regional senior director for Yorkshire at GVA, said: “Leeds Dock is a key strategic site on Leeds’s South Bank.

“Owner Allied London has worked hard to attract people to the location through an exciting programme of events, as well as occupiers in the creative and digital industries, including Sky Betting and Gaming.

“This has helped to bring jobs and footfall to Leeds Dock and build its profile as an attractive place to live, work and play.”

He added: “Given Allied London’s programme of investment and initiatives at Leeds Dock, it is likely that its coming on to the market will be of significant interest to investors and potential buyers.”

Leeds Dock has a current void rate of 3.6 per cent, excluding The Malt House, a 25,321 sq ft vacant building, which is being marketed to potential buyers as a development opportunity.

The site generates a total gross income of £2.2m per annum, equating to £16.25 per sq ft.

The dock, known as New Dock, was originally built in 1843 for boats using the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the Aire and Calder Navigation.

Allied London changed Clarence Dock’s name back to New Dock in 2012 but later changed it to Leeds Dock ahead of its investment in the site.

Allied London and property agent Metis declined to comment on the sale.