The city of Leeds is one of the UK’s largest cities, and is said to be one of the top contributors to the nation’s overall economic output. Its GVA (Gross Value Added) produced by over 109,000 different companies within the boundaries of the city currently stands at £60.5 billion and equals 5% of England’s total economy. With a working population of over 1.9 million people, Leeds has one of the fastest growing workforces in the UK outside of London.
Besides its excellent work force, this thriving economy is furthermore supported by its superb infrastructure through road, rail and air networks. Its situation is only set to improve as together with Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield, Leeds is set to boost the Northern region by expanding its connectivity through the bespoke HS2 high-speed rail project, set to begin as early as 2017. HS2 is forecasted to bring an extra £7.8 billion to the Leeds City Region economy once completed. Furthermore, as part of this two-phased project worth in excess of £40billion, Leeds is expecting to see the development of a second train station – Leeds New Lane. It will possess a total of five new platforms, and will be connected to Leeds City national railway station by a pedestrian foot path.
In line with the proposed new train station and general HS2 network, Leeds will be required to make changes to its surroundings, particularly around the South Bank region. Here, the area is already experiencing major regeneration, with even more schemes planned in the near future: The South Bank regeneration scheme will transform 136 hectares from Holbeck Urban Village to Leeds Dock at the river Aire. Being the equivalent of the size of 190 football pitches, it is set to be one of the largest city centre regeneration projects in Europe. Additionally, it is expected to bring 35,000 jobs as well as 4,000 brand new homes to market. Its three main areas are: Holbeck Urban Village, South Bank Central and Leeds Dock.
Holbeck Urban Village has so far seen £250 million worth of investment being poured into it over the last 16 years, resulting in mixture of high quality residential as well as commercial mixed use developments, including such future projects as Tower Works Phase II, Water Lane, Round Foundry Phase 2, Bath Road and Temple Works. South Bank Central will simultaneously see the rise of sustainable businesses and residential communities, benefiting from its closeness to Leeds retail and financial centre, the proposed New Lane train station and its beautiful waterfront. Lastly, Leeds’ Dock area is going to become a vibrant destination to work, live and play. The main focus points here are going to be the commercial side of things facilitating desirable visitor attractions such as the Royal Armouries Museum, encouraging tourism to the local area.
Overall, the Leeds authorities are investing heavily into the transformation of its city, making it one of the most sought-after destinations for work, lifestyle as well as leisure. Its already exciting landscape of culture combined with 21st century living will be further enhanced by major regeneration schemes such as Leeds South Bank whilst large national projects such as HS2 are going to ensure its competitive edge over other large cities in the UK.