FOUR thousand people could live or work on the former home of Yorkshire Post newspapers under plans to turn the site into a thriving riverside community.
The mixed use development in the heart of Leeds could include company head offices, a top class hotel, a residential tower, restaurants and open spaces for visitors who want to admire the riverside views.
Fox Lloyd Jones, who are acting as agents for the landowners, have been talking to Government departments, utility firms and media companies who have “live requirements” for office space in Leeds, and, if planning permission is granted, the first occupants could move on to the site during 2017. The iconic tower, which is the only part of the old site still standing, is being re-clad and could be incorporated into one of the new buildings. The site was acquired in early 2014 by YP Real Estate for an estimated £2m and the buildings, which included the offices and the print works of the Yorkshire Post, have been demolished, leaving a prime five acre development site. YP Real Estate was founded in November 2013, and its directors are Andrew Pettit, David Newett and George Llewellyn-Smith.
The application includes plans for three detached HQ office buildings positioned along the inner ring road frontage, together with a 200 unit residential block, which will be targeted at the private rental market.
Paul Fox, of Fox Lloyd Jones said the scheme could incorporate a new hotel if required. He added: “It’s a gateway site with lots of history.”
Mr Fox said that people either loved or hated the old Yorkshire Post building, and the landowners now wanted to create a sustainable community in its place. He said Leeds needed a good destination hotel, and if the city wanted its own version of Manchester’s iconic Lowry Hotel, then this could be the ideal location for it.
“The lack of activity during the recession years created a shortage of space for people who required it,’’ he added. “It’s now a ‘space race’ to get buildings up to meet requirements.
“We are looking to build high quality apartments designed for long term rentals.”
The proposed buildings will only occupy 60 per cent of the site, which means there will be plenty of open space to provide links with neighbouring schemes, such as the MEPC development at Wellington Place.
“It will be completely integrated into what MEPC is doing,’’ Mr Fox added.
To support the on-site population, which could reach 4,000 workers and residents, the planned scheme includes a range of convenience stores and leisure facilities which spill out into a south facing riverside space.
Although an application was made for use of the site as a commuter car park, that has now been withdrawn. Fox Lloyd Jones said that market demand suggests the scheme will be delivered sooner than expected. Planning consent was secured last week for the re-cladding of the former Yorkshire Post clock tower which will be adapted and upgraded for digital media advertising purposes and retained in the short term.
A number of media companies have indicated that they are looking for extra space in Leeds, including BSkyB’s Yorkshire-based betting business Sky Bet. Yesterday, Richard Flint, Sky Bet’s managing director, confirmed that the company was looking for space, but not necessarily on the former Yorkshire Post site.
Mr Fox added: “Our design team has worked collaboratively with a team from Leeds City Council for a number of months to evolve the scheme. We feel it will offer a positive contribution to the development of the city.”