Proposals for the major regeneration of an area south of Leeds city centre will be discussed by senior councillors next week.
A report on principles to guide the transformation of the area of Hunslet Riverside will be considered by Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday 23 September.
Hunslet Riverside refers to the area directly to the south of Leeds Dock between Hunslet Road, the River Aire and the local centre of Hunslet. The report outlines aims to regenerate the area to complement developments at Leeds Dock and the adjoining South Bank, which is one of the largest city centre regeneration initiatives in Europe with the potential to deliver approximately 35,000 new jobs and 4,000 new homes. Similar guiding principles for the regeneration of the South Bank were approved by the executive board in July.
A regeneration plan for Hunslet Riverside will aim to deliver a mix of high quality developments resulting in housing, growth and job creation to boost the city’s economy and provide benefits and opportunities for the local communities in Hunslet and Richmond Hill.
There would also be a focus on helping to attract families into that part of the city, boosting connectivity with the city centre through improved waterside routes, reducing the dominance of traffic, the possibility of building new pedestrian and cycle bridges across the River Aire, as well as improving the physical appearance of the area.
In terms of housing, capacity for 2,000 new homes within and around Hunslet Riverside has been identified in the Aire Valley Leeds Area Action Plan, which itself will be subject to public consultation starting later this month. An award-winning eco-housing development providing 287 family homes and apartments at Yarn Street has now been completed, with planning permission granted last month for 312 more low-carbon homes at Low Fold. This development also includes new open space and a new bridge across the River Aire for pedestrian and cyclists.
The plans make a priority of bringing the key historic landmark buildings of Hunslet Mill and Victoria Mill back into use. The former flax-spinning mills which were built in the 1830s and 1840s are Grade II and Grade II* listed, which means Hunslet Mill at Grade II* is amongst the most important eight per cent of all buildings in the country. They have lain empty and largely derelict since the 1980s and as a result are on Historic England’s Buildings at Risk register. The council is currently in discussions with the owners and Historic England about protecting the buildings and looking to identify a viable programme of restoration and re-use that can form a centrepiece of regeneration plans for the area.
The principles include discussing regeneration possibilities with the various landowners in the Hunslet Riverside area, as well as working with developers and interested parties to optimise the use of council-owned land in that section of the city.
Improving the look and feel of the area is also to be considered, with enhancements to public areas including the waterfront and using art installations in the same way as those potentially being developed for the South Bank to animate and boost the local environment.
The plans aim to complement the developments taking place around Hunslet Riverside, which include improvements and new investment at Leeds Dock, the new southern entrance at Leeds Rail Station, new companies moving into the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone, and the significant education ‘cluster’ being developed to the west which is estimated to bring 10,000 students to the area every day when complete.
Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said:
“The area to the south of the city centre represents a massive opportunity to provide a huge long-term boost to the local and regional economy, but only if we get it right and ensure that the transformational benefits and opportunities are felt by all the local communities in the area.
“New developments in the South Bank and at Leeds Dock are very encouraging, but we need to make sure Hunslet Riverside is also at the forefront of this regeneration so that people in Hunslet, Richmond Hill and the surrounding areas can benefit.
“It’s also vital that we celebrate the heritage of this area and its role in placing the city at the forefront of the industrial revolution – conserving and re-using buildings like Hunslet and Victoria Mills are a big part of this and will be as important to the future of this area as they have been to its past.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to revitalise the area and work with stakeholders to attract investment and jobs, as well as making new homes and providing an inclusive, connected and desirable area where people and especially families want to live and visit.”
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