'Village' proposals back on track

Joanne Ginley

HOPES of creating a new village on the outskirts of Leeds to transform part of the city's manufacturing heritage into a new community, complete with its own railway station, could be back on track.

Developers, Commercial Estates Group, plan to make a presentation to councillors on Thursday about their proposals.

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The riverside setting of Kirkstall Forge in Leeds is set to be turned into homes, offices, leisure facilities, a hotel, shops, bars and restaurants.

The plan also includes a new train station and allocating more than half the site to be green space allowing for woodland walks and bicycle routes.

In 2007, members of Leeds City Council granted outline planning permission for a major mixed use scheme – but because of the downturn that was placed on hold.

Now, the developers are putting together a revised plan which would see office space and the number of homes reduced.

A report to members of the Council’s plans panel west says: “The project has been delayed due to the economic downturn and has now been revised to move it forward.

“The main change is that the first phase will now be led by office development rather than residential and has involved the doubling of the office content in three grade A office buildings each capable of providing 100,000 sq ft.

“Proposing an office-led regeneration scheme at this stage will raise capital needed to deliver the rest of the scheme given the high capital cost in infrastructure required.

“The delivery of this major brownfield site in a sustainable location supported by rail infrastructure must remain a key objective given the pressure at present on greenfield sites around the city.”

The numbers of homes would be reduced from 1,355 to 1,045, with the revised figures providing 585 apartments and 460 town houses or maisonettes.

The report to councillors says public talks will be held before any revised plans are accepted.

Kirkstall Forge was established by Cistercian monks who founded Kirkstall Abbey in 1152 and opened the forge around 1200. In medieval times the forge made farming tools and equipment for carts and riding.

In the 20th century its products included heavy axles for lorries and for military vehicles including tanks. It closed in 2002.

The forge is on a 56-acre site bordering the A65 Leeds-Ilkley road, the River Aire and the Leeds-Liverpool canal.

A key part of the redevelopment would be a new railway station at Kirkstall Forge.

The report adds: “The site is one of the key regeneration sites in the city with outline permission for a mixed use redevelopment. The delivery of a new railway station at Kirkstall Forge linked with the provision of a new rail station at Apperley Bridge are facilitated and partly financed by the development.”

Metro’s plans for Apperley Bridge, the station at Kirkstall Forge and car park extensions elsewhere in West Yorkshire have been identified as priorities by the Regional Transport Board.

In November, a bid for more than 23m was submitted to the Government requesting funds for a major programme of work in West Yorkshire.

Metro, the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority, is hoping to build stations at Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall Forge, at the same time as adding 628 car park places to existing stations in the county.

Almost 20m would come from the Regional Funding Allocation, while the rest would be covered by contributions from the Local Transport Plan and the developer of the Kirkstall Forge site.