Sheaf Street: Leeds venue suddenly closes alleging 'devastating' impacts from surrounding Aire Park development

An independent music venue and cafe based in Leeds has suddenly closed down, alleging “devastating” impacts from a nearby mixed-use development.

Sheaf Street, which was based in Leeds South Bank, has announced that it will close with immediate effect. The company said that issues brought on by the Aire Park development, which surrounds the venue, had in part led to its closure.

In a statement issued on 30 October, Sheaf Street said it had first considered closing in May of this year, before taking the decision to continue trading. Issues around rising stock and utilities costs were also cited as reasons for the venue’s closure.

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Its statement said: "The Aire Park development, which completely surrounds us, has had a devastating impact on our trade. The cafe has been forced to close since January this year, losing a vital stream of regular income with no compensation for the disruption.

Sheaf Street, located in Leeds South Bank, has closed with immediate effect. Picture by Google Street View.Sheaf Street, located in Leeds South Bank, has closed with immediate effect. Picture by Google Street View.
Sheaf Street, located in Leeds South Bank, has closed with immediate effect. Picture by Google Street View.

"Our industry is facing a real crisis post-pandemic, with low attendance, rising costs, increasing fees, significantly reduced spend per head, and skyrocketing utilities and stock costs, all on top of trying to recoup huge pandemic losses.”

The Aire Park development, which is located on the South Bank of the River Aire, will include a two hectare city park, up to 850 new homes, and a 400 bed hotel. The first phase of the project is due for completion later this year.

A spokesperson for Vastint UK, the developer of the Aire Park scheme, said: “We’re very sorry to hear the news that the Sheaf Street venue is closing and that the extremely difficult post covid trading conditions which have affected many businesses around the country have taken another cultural landmark.

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“We wish to reaffirm our commitment to our programme of urban regeneration across Aire Park, working in partnership with Leeds City Council to develop plans which meet with the aspirations for the area and wider South Bank masterplan.”

The family-run Sheaf Street was first founded in 2017. The venue said that it would attempt to relocate some planned events where possible, but that the majority would be cancelled. It added that ticket holders will be contacted by the ticket providers to receive full refunds for any cancelled events.

In its statement, Sheaf Street added: "The hospitality sector is a vital economic driver for our city.

"We believe Leeds as a city doesn't fully recognise the important assets that it has."

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A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said they were “saddened” to receive the news of the closure.

They added: “We would like to thank Sheaf Street for the contribution they have made to the Leeds creative scene over the years.

“The council has worked closely with the venue owners over the years providing grants, rates relief and advice to access any available support. We have also been in frequent contact with the developers of Aire Park to ensure measures are in place to try and mitigate the impact the work has had on footfall. Unfortunately, as we have seen, other factors such as changing work patterns post pandemic and the rising cost of living have also had a major impact on many businesses as well as on the council’s own finances and services.”