Three key areas along Leeds’s waterfront are set to be transformed by local architects as part of an ambitious regeneration of the city centre.
City Reach, Whitehall Riverside and the former Yorkshire Post site are to be revitalised in a bid to improve the public realm alongside the Aire.
Landscape architects Re-form, who are based Tower Works in Holbeck Urban Village, have been appointed to oversee the projects with a brief to harness the unique qualities of the historic waterway.
Fourteen staff will work on the schemes, which include a residential development on the former Yorkshire Chemicals site at City Reach. Planning permission has been granted for 800 new homes, including 234 student apartments and commercial units.
City Reach will also feature a ‘pocket park’, new streets, urban squares and shared courtyards, while an existing footbridge will be refurbished to provide a link across the Aire to Otter Island.
The architects have taken on the Whitehall Riverside project to develop the existing business hub by adding more Grade A offices, cafes, bars, a hotel and a multi-storey car park. Outline consent was given in 2014 and a detailed application will be submitted this month for features such as a stepped terrace and flood management measures.
The developers of the former Yorkshire Post newspaper offices have tasked Re-form with creating a major new gateway to Leeds with a mix of commercial, leisure and residential uses located on what was once an inaccessible stretch of the waterfront. An urban square and basement parking will be provided.
The huge regeneration effort has excited Re-form director Guy Denton:
“The river was once the main artery of the city, and we hope that our designs will have a rejuvenating effect; opening up the waterfront once again by creating green, well-connected, social spaces for people who live, work and enjoy the city centre. We are creating places that attractive, but also perform an important function by contributing to flood management and increasing biodiversity.
“It’s encouraging that more public and private sector organisations are looking to harness the transformational effects of investing in high quality design in our public spaces. We look forward to working with our clients to see their ambitions realised.”
The firm is also behind the design of Sovereign Square, the first new public space in the city centre for more than a generation.