A commercial property development in Leeds could play as significant a role in boosting the North of England’s economy as the Spinningfields financial district in Manchester, a major business event was told.
The Wellington Place scheme in Leeds will provide employment for around 11,000 people when HMRC and NHS Digital establish bases on the site, according to a new report.
The study from Hatch Regeneris concluded that Wellington Place is now one of the most successful city centre regeneration projects in the UK, contributing a total economic value to date of £200m. The site, which was once part of Leeds Central Station and had suffered from years of neglect, is already home to major employers including Sky Betting & Gaming, Irwin Mitchell, Shulmans, Ward Hadaway and Willis Towers Watson.
However, the report from Hatch Regeneris says the true impact of Wellington Place is only just about to be realised.
It added: “This critical mass of activity will also help to unlock the real potential of Wellington Place, supporting the viability of new amenities and residential development on neighbouring sites.”
James Dipple, the chief executive of MEPC, which created a vision for the scheme in collaboration with Leeds City Council in the mid 2000s, said he hoped people would be talking about Wellington Place instead of Spinningfields.
He said: “We have the ability to learn from what others have done and improve on it.
“We have the vision, the commitment, the passion and long term investment. Spinningfields has been developed on a fairly piecemeal basis but we have carried on from the end of the last recession through until now.
“We have plans to carry on that investment, despite what’s happening in the UK at the minute. We see the value of investing in a place like Wellington Place.”
The report concluded that 65 per cent of all Grade A office space delivered in central Leeds since 2009 has been at Wellington Place.
The report also highlighted the “long and growing list” of activities that MEPC arranges at Wellington Place to keep customers happy. Occupiers praised the partnership between the tenant and landlord as one of the site’s key strengths.
Mr Dipple said: “Our investors provide us with the headroom to engage with the customers and make sure they are very happy. Companies want to stay here. There is a purpose behind it.
“There is lots to do here. Single buildings sitting on a street don’t work anymore.”
The report into the economic value of the Wellington Place scheme was discussed in front of a panel and invited audience.
The report found that 4,800 people already work at Wellington Place, and this number is set to rise to 11,000 when the hubs open for HMRC and NHS Digital.
The study found that 90 per cent of occupiers have expanded since moving to Wellington Place and 60 per cent of the jobs there have been taken by Leeds residents.
Around 1,000 tonnes of C02 has been saved due to the energy efficiency of the buildings.
The panel debate about the report was chaired by Greg Wright, The Yorkshire Post’s deputy business editor and featured James Dipple, Tatiana Bosteels, the director of responsibility and head RPI at Hermes, Oliver Chapman, associate director and lead Researcher, Hatch Regeneris, Amanda Beresford, partner and head of planning, Shulmans, Martin Farrington, director of city development, Leeds City Council and Angela Barnicle, chief officer for asset management and regeneration, Leeds City Council.