£10m bailout to keep urban village dream alive

Council bosses have agreed to invest £10m in a housing scheme in a bid to keep it moving.

Members of the executive board agreed to “forward fund” key highways work at the delayed Kirkstall Forge site in west Leeds.

They unanimously backed the release of money on Wednesday on condition the sum is repaid by the developer, Commercial Estates Group (CEG).

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This is the second time the taxpayer has come to the rescue of CEG’s project, which aims to create a ‘village’ of 1,000 homes, 136,000 sq ft of plush office space, and 136,000 sq ft of leisure and retail facilities on the site of the former forge.

Last year the Leeds City Region, a local enterprise partnership of public and private organisations, released £5m to fund the construction of a rail halt.

Kirkstall Forge’s success depends on the creation of a new train station. But before it can be built a new access road is needed.

CEG originally anticipated funds generated by the rest of the development would help it meet both highways costs and the rail halt.

However the start of work on the wider scheme was delayed owing to the recession.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon (Lab, Kirstall) said: “This [scheme] has got a lot of support in the local area. Kirkstall Forge was one of the main employers in the area particularly for Hawkswood.”