The plans will reverse the almost decade long disappointments following the recession where the anticipated ‘tall towers’ boom was cancelled. Eight skyscrapers in the City Centre have been proposed on three key sites. The development is considered vital to the City’s long-term economic vision and holds great potential.
To meet growing demand a special panel has been set up. City plans panel chairman Neil Walshaw said the council “absolutely” welcomes proposals for tall buildings, and that there was no reason why Leeds couldn’t go really big and bold and eventually have a Gherkin or a Shard-like structure of its own. He said the authority was expecting a “wave of developments” of the kind. However he also stressed: “We don’t want a repeat of Lumiere and the Kissing Towers. What we want is certainty.” He said the renewed developer interest in building super towers was a “pretty ringing endorsement of where we are as a City,” adding that “if someone is building 40 storeys, they are thinking big.” And addressing potential developers directly, he added: “We want you to step up a level. We are not going to insist on Gherkins, but innovative is good. Let’s go for iconic,” he added.
Martin Hamilton, director of Leeds Civic Trust, said the City’s renewed focus on big buildings was “a sign that things are picking up.” And referring to the dormant Lumiere and Kissing Towers schemes of almost a decade ago, he added: “This time round we will definitely see one or two of these buildings happen, as long as the economy doesn’t take a nosedive.” He said Leeds already had an impressive skyline but there is “definitely” scope to enhance it. “Our view is that as long as the buildings are high quality, and wind issues like those at Bridgewater Place are considered, height is not a concern. We are happy with the principle.”
Jon Kenny, development director at developer CEG, said: “This proposed £350million investment into the South Bank regeneration area will provide much-needed new homes, leisure, office space and vibrant public realm. “We will deliver inspiring architecture and landmark buildings at this important gateway site as part of a carefully considered masterplan.”
The plans will boost the economy and also provide jobs and homes for numerous people, making this a welcome development.
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