Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Holbeck development plan given first green light

Holbeck in Leeds has moved a step closer to becoming one of the first inner-city areas in the country to create its own localised plan to encourage development and regeneration.

As part of the Localism Act 2011, communities can create a neighbourhood plan which can influence development and improve sustainability in a local area.

The interim Holbeck Neighbourhood Forum made up of residents, businesses, councillors and other local stakeholders has now secured the go-ahead from Leeds City Council to prepare a plan for the newly-designated Holbeck Neighbourhood Area.

The designated boundaries of the area are the railway line to the north, the M621 to the south, the inner ring road to the east and Sweet Street to the west. Within these boundaries are the residential areas of Holbeck as well as a business/light industrial area to the north of the viaduct.

Holbeck is one of four neighbourhood area pilots in Leeds, and is the first non-parished area to be designated. The other pilot areas are at Kippax, Boston Spa and Otley.

The Holbeck Neighbourhood Plan aims to promote regeneration and growth in the area as well as creating closer ties with Holbeck Urban Village and the city centre. Priorities in the plan will be improving pedestrian and cycle links as well as protecting and promoting the heritage assets in the area.

The council, local community and Planning Aid England are working closely on the plan, with the backing of the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
The next stage of the process is to designate the Holbeck Neighourhood Forum, made up of at least 21 people who live, work and carry out business in the area. The forum will then develop the plan so it can be put to an independent examiner for assessment.

Should the assessment recommend proceeding, a public referendum would take place in 2015 for the plan to be voted on by local residents.

Leeds City Council executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services Councillor Peter Gruen said:

“This is a very positive first step in creating a local neighbourhood plan for Holbeck and the council is pleased to support it.

“Giving local people more control over what happens in their communities is important, and there are a lot of people working hard to ensure this pilot project succeeds. We look forward to following the progress of the forum and the plan in the months to come.”

Interim chair of the interim Holbeck Neighbourhood Forum Dennis Kitchen said:

“This is an exciting development for Holbeck. The Holbeck community is looking forward to shaping its own future and taking a real lead in planning and guiding improvements to the area. Holbeck has great potential and lifting the profile of the area through our Neighbourhood Forum is both a challenge and a privilege.”


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde,
Leeds City Council press office,
Tel 0113 247 5472

Senior councillors set to give final approval for new city centre green space

Caption: An artist's impression of the new Sovereign Square

The final approval for a new public green space in Leeds city centre is to be discussed by senior councillors next week.

At its meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 6 November, the council’s executive board will be asked to approve the creation of the new ‘Sovereign Square’ as part of the office development at Sovereign Street which will feature the new Leeds headquarters for global consultancy firm KPMG.

As part of the development on the council-owned land on the site of the former Queen’s Hall, a key feature will be a central green space which will act as an attractive area for visitors, families and office workers. It will provide additional green space in the city centre and will strengthen links with the South Bank and proposed city centre park to be created there as part of the regeneration of the area.

The design put forward for the new Sovereign Square green space, which was granted planning permission in December 2012, will include a tree-lined boulevard, grassed area, water feature, rain garden, lighting and outdoor seating which will combine to offer 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 a venue also capable of hosting outdoor events.

Should the final approval be given, work on site would be scheduled to begin in September 2014 and be completed by June 2015, when KPMG moves into the adjacent building which represents the first new major office scheme in Leeds city centre since 2007.

The new KPMG Leeds building, being developed by Muse Developments, is the first of three new plots which make up the broader Sovereign Street scheme. Of the two remaining plots, one is under offer by the way of an exclusivity agreement and the third will be marketed when the square is completed.

Leeds City Council executive member for development and the economy Councillor Richard Lewis said:

“The designs for the new green space at Sovereign Square look fantastic and will create an impressive new park area in the city centre for everyone to use and appreciate whilst also helping to boost and encourage new investment in the area.

“With the cafĂ© area, water feature and the potential for it to host outdoor events, it will be a wonderful new addition to the city centre and is likely to become a popular visitor attraction in its own right.”

Chris Hearld, KPMG Senior Office Partner Leeds, said:

“We are pleased the council has reached this milestone and we are looking forward to seeing their plans and proposals delivered alongside our new building.”

Development director at Muse Developments David Wells said:

“This is great news for the scheme. With construction of KPMG’s new office building well underway and due for completion in summer 2014, this is an important milestone in the regeneration of Sovereign Street.”

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 in July 2008.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde,
Leeds City Council press office,
Tel 0113 247 5472

Bonfire night set to hit the heights in Leeds

Caption: Six public bonfires will be held across the city by Leeds City Council.

The 5th of November will once again be celebrated in style across Leeds with six public bonfires.

Family friendly Leeds City Council events will be held this year on Tuesday 5 November at Roundhay Park, East End Park, Springhead Park in Rothwell, Woodhouse Moor, Middleton Park and Bramley Park.

An estimated crowd of 70,000 is once again set to attend the city’s biggest bonfire at Roundhay Park, which will include a Capital Radio stage show with presenter JoJo. The bonfire on Soldiers Field will be lit at 7.30pm and followed by a fantastic firework display which will commence at 8pm.

The bonfires at Bramley Park, Springhead Park, Woodhouse Moor, Middleton Park (sponsored by Land Securities at the White Rose Centre) and East End Park will be lit at 7pm, with fireworks at 7.30pm.

Councillor Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for the environment said:

"Bonfire night is always a special event in the calendar, and I am delighted to say that we will be once again be hosting six bonfires across the city for families and people of all ages to enjoy.

"I would like to say to a big thank you to our sponsors and partners for the important part they play in helping us provide these displays, and we hope everyone has a really fantastic time."

For media enquiries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Apprentice turns chief executive of Leeds Apprenticeship Training Agency

The new chief executive of Leeds Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) starts next week (4 November) and will be drawing on his experiences 18 years ago when he started as an apprentice.

Matthew Thomas, born and brought up in Leeds, has spent his career working with businesses across the city. Starting off as an apprentice electrician with BCS Electrics (based in East End Park,Leeds) in 1995 he worked his way up to become managing director at the company.

Recently Matthew has been an active committee member of the IOD Young Directors Forum, and over the past few years he has also undertaken personal development work with the Common Purpose Leadership Programme, and also the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme in 2012, facilitated with the University of Leeds and based out of SHINE on Harehills Road.

Matthew joins the Leeds ATA from the Navigate Academies Trust, based in Garforth, where he is currently general manager for business services. His role within the agency will be to match talented, focused young apprentices with local businesses who want to skill and grow their workforce.

The ATA is an independent company jointly owned by Leeds City Council and Leeds City College, and showcases the new approach Leeds is taking to creating jobs and developing talent and skills that the city’s businesses need for growth.

Matthew said:

“Having been an apprentice myself, I know first-hand the benefits of this kind of working relationship to both the apprentice and the business.

“I really value what apprentices can bring to a company, and what that company can give back. Whilst I was MD of BCS Electrics, 25% of the workforce were Apprentices or adult trainees.

“Having worked in Leeds with a vast range of businesses, it is great to now be in a role where I can give something back and offer small and medium size businesses the chance to be paired with job ready young people.”

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council and chair of the ATA said:

“It is fantastic to have someone in post that has first-hand knowledge of what apprentices can bring to companies, and what young people can gain from this in return.

“I would like to welcome Matthew to the ATA and look forward to working with him as he moves forward to deliver upon the ATA’s objectives, its business plan and supporting the take-up of apprentices by SME businesses.”

Notes to editors:

The Leeds Apprenticeship Training Agency is a company limited by guaranteed, jointly owned by Leeds City Council and Leeds City College, created to enable the take-up of Apprenticeship placements by the city’s SME business community.

The main aim of the Leeds ATA is to make it as simple as possible for SME’s to take on an apprentice by removing some of the bureaucracy and burdens they would normally face. It will match young people, who are job ready and want to find careers, to apprenticeships with local businesses who want to skill and grow their workforce.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

Council plans for winter and festive period

This week marks the launch of a national campaign by the Met Office about getting ready for the winter months.

Leeds City Council already has a number of initiatives in place to help keep the city moving during the winter period.

From gritting roads to insulating your home, or even ensuring the right people get their flu jab in time, the council is making sure everyone is aware of how to prepare.

With the cold weather approaching quickly, people will soon see a difference to their fuel bills. Wrap Up Leeds ECO, a council led scheme to help people heat their homes for less is available to anyone who owns their own property or privately rents in Leeds. People can find out if they could benefit by calling 0113 395 0757, emailing or visiting

The council already has a mountain of 19,000 tonnes of grit ready to cover the map of primary and secondary routes, but as always a reminder that paths and residential roads cannot be treated due to the sheer size of our city.

Currently there is a campaign running to raise awareness of the flu jab. People aged 65 or over, or pregnant, or who have a health condition such as asthma, chest or heart complaints or diabetes are at the greatest risk. This year children aged two and three are also being offered the vaccine. For more information visit

Looking after the elderly and vulnerable is key during the colder months. Simply checking they are ok and have enough food and their heating is working can make a real difference. For information and advice about the Older People’s Neighbourhood Networks, call the Leeds Directory’s helpline on 0113 391 8333 or go to

The snow and bad weather can affect everything, from businesses and schools to transport and other services. The council website, will be updated with school closures, and businesses will receive a ‘Leeds Alert’ from the council’s emergency planning team should the weather take a turn for the worst.

The council’s Safer Leeds Partnership will be promoting the ‘darker nights’ campaign with West Yorkshire Police to raise awareness of what people can do to make their homes more safe and less vulnerable to burglary.

In the city centre,taxi marshals will be on hand as we get closer to the countdown to Christmas, to help late night revellers get home safely and patrol the city streets.

But this year it is not just about the wintery conditions, as part of a campaign against payday lenders, Leeds Credit Union wants to encourage more people to come to them for financial advice and support in the lead up to Christmas, rather than turning to payday lenders to fund the festive break. Checking to see if you receive all the financial support you are entitled to is also important. For people wanting advice on utility bills and benefits, the council’s welfare team (0113 376 0452) can assist along with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (0844 477 4788).

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:
“Preparing the city for the wintery months includes so much more than the obvious stock piling of grit and travel planning.

“We work closely with a number of partners across the city to keep the city moving during the cold snap, but we do we do rely on local communities to work with us, as we cannot cover everything. Whether it is checking on a neighbour or lending a hand, all of this helps.”

To receive up to date information about school closures, gritting, and other council news follow @LeedsCC_News and Leeds City Council on facebook or for more detailed information visit

For more information about the Get Ready for Winter campaign visit


For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450