22 Jan 2015

Council digs in to create a city centre oasis in Leeds

Caption: Cllr Richard Lewis looks on as the first ground is broken for the Sovereign Square public green space

It was a milestone moment for what is intended to be an oasis of calm for people to enjoy in a built-up part of Leeds city centre as the first ground was broken on the Sovereign Square green space scheme.

A contemporary public square landscaped with a water feature, trees, shrubs and seating areas will be created at the former temporary car park on Sovereign Street near to the new KPMG headquarters.

Not only will it provide additional green space in the city centre, it will strengthen links with the South Bank and proposed city centre park to be created as part of the regeneration of the area.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for transport and the economy, said:

“I’m so pleased that work is starting on this stunning and imaginative green space. Once complete, Sovereign Square will enable anyone living or working in the area or simply passing through to relax and enjoy a wonderful green bolt-hole in the hustle and bustle of this busy and developing sector of the city centre.

“It will also complement perfectly our broader plans to regenerate Leeds’ South Bank which focus on bringing in new development and further expanding green space.”

Andrew Price, director of re-form landscape architecture, said:

“It is fantastic to be involved in a rare opportunity to create a new public square in Leeds. Sovereign Square is already attracting new businesses but this will also create a space for the people of Leeds. Water will form a major feature in this new space linking a new fountain plaza to the River Aire through a 100m long water rill.

“There will be lawns, fifty new mature trees and a large rain garden that will sustainably manage the surface water on the site and create new habitats in a prominent city centre site. Ultimately, we hope this ambitious project will set the standard for public realm in Leeds, attracting further prestigious businesses to the site, as well as providing a destination for residents, visitors and workers to enjoy.”

The new green space is due to be complete later this year with the paving and water feature installed by October by the council’s appointed contractors Eurovia Ltd. The planting works are being done by the council’s own in-house planting team who work within the parks and countryside service. At the same time, work will also take place on the construction of Bruntwood’s new office development at 3 Sovereign Square, which will complete in summer 2016.

Craig Burrow, director for Leeds for Bruntwood, said:

"As a business we are all about creating places for business success and this new green space will be a key component in achieving this for the new developments around it."

Sovereign Square will include a tree-lined boulevard, grassed area, water feature, rain garden, lighting and outdoor seating, offering a backdrop for street cafes to be developed. The contemporary landscaping will include mature trees and shrubs as well as paved areas and natural stone walls, providing an area also capable of hosting outdoor events.

Notes to editors:

The Leeds City Council-owned Sovereign Street site has housed a temporary pay and display car park since plans were scrapped for the Criterion Place development.

The recent construction of the neighbouring Leeds headquarters of KPMG was the first major office development in the city centre for over five years.

Sovereign Square is part of the council’s vision to extend the city centre southwards and address its shortage of quality green space and is intended to be the forerunner of the City Centre Park south of the River Aire. The new £2.5 million green space will be a catalyst for further development of the area.

The re-form landscape team are based in Leeds and specialise in delivering enduring, high quality public spaces and streets across the UK. They were recently appointed to carry out a £20 million re-design of Hull City Centre’s streets and spaces. Andrew Price and Guy Denton, the two directors of re-form, also designed the Civic and Cultural Quarter in Doncaster and St George’s Square in Huddersfield.

For media enquiries please contact:

Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335

Email: donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk


Contact information

Leeds City Council Communications team