Jon Kenny, development director at Commercial Estates Group which is leading the £350m Leeds South Bank Scheme, made the comments as HS2 bosses published a new report which suggests the high-speed rail project will provide a major economic boost for the city.
The HS2 report says the promise of high-speed rail services starting in the city by 2033 has acted as a “catalyst” for the Leeds South Bank scheme, which is due to be one of Europe’s largest city centre regeneration projects over the next 30 years.
Public consultation is currently taking place on the masterplan, which is intended to involve the creation of at least 8,000 new homes, a new city park and a reimagined River Aire waterfront. The arrival of HS2 stations at a remodelled Leeds Railway Station is a key element of the plans.
Mr Kenny said: “South Bank will double the size of Leeds city centre, an opportunity no other UK city can boast. The investment into the area will create thousands of new jobs, with workers relying on fast, reliable sustainable travel solutions. To grasp this opportunity, the delivery of HS2 is essential. It will attract companies seeking high quality, well-connected business space, boosting demand and acting as a catalyst for increased productivity and economic growth.”
David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, said that the successful local campaign to change the location of the city’s new HS2 station so it will now be integrated with the existing station, rather than 500m away as originally planned, had been an important step for the South Bank plans.
“The original plan was for HS2 to have the most efficient way to get into Leeds. Not only Leeds, but also the communities around there, said this doesn’t work for us, we have got a perfectly good station but we need access that is better integrated in the existing station. We changed the design as a result.
“There is a lot of vacant land around there and the chance for the city to expand. We are delighted with the way Leeds has delivered.”