We were really excited to get the opportunity to go to the YEP Leeds breakfast seminar at Addleshaw Goddard on 27th February to hear all about the Leeds Our Spaces Strategy. This extremely insightful seminar opened our minds, and our eyes, to the incredible journey Leeds is on at the moment in a bid to make it a much more people-friendly city and hopefully secure the title of city of culture in 2023.
Leeds City Council did a tonne of research into what the people of Leeds wanted to see from a regeneration project and the response was huge. People wanted more green spaces and areas where they could appreciate the stunning architecture, get some peace away from the buzz of city centre life and where children could be safe to play and explore.
The Our Spaces Strategy was born and LCC had a massive responsibility to deliver exactly what people wanted. In a city where 53.6% of commuters still drive to work, Leeds has had a reputation for being heavily focused on vehicle travel since the 1970s, when it was coined as ‘The motorway city of the North’. By creating more walkways and pedestrian-only zones across the city, this reputation will be amended and the aim is for more people to realise quite how accessible and safe the city is without a car.
Jane Walne – Head of Projects and Programmes at Leeds City Council, delivered the breakfast seminar with real passion and it was clear she is proud of being part of such a huge project. She firmly believes in making Leeds a ‘vibrant, inclusive and world class public realm’ and stated “Our Spaces is about life between buildings. Every space you create is a legacy for the people who use it.” It was also fairly poignent that the seminar was hosted at Addleshaw Goddard at Sovereign Square, which is one of the first regeneration initiatives of the Our Spaces Strategy. Standing outside of the office, it was clear to see the direction the strategy is going in. Lots of greenery, seating areas and a fountain sit comfortably inside a square of glass-panelled office buildings. The juxtaposition is chic and be-fitting a city centre with huge ambition.
By regenerating some of the poorer areas, such as Holbeck, and tidying up some of the existing, but under-utilised, parts of Leeds, there is a hope that Leeds city centre will gain more synergy and offer a more communal vibe. People will be able to truly celebrate the heritage of Leeds and become better connected, both physically and through cultural projects. Quarry Hill, near Leeds Playhouse, will be completely revitalised and become Leeds' 'Cultural Quarter'. A focus on arts, architecture and creativity will see a whole host of events and projects popping up across the city.
The ambition for Our Spaces is to boost the already burgeoning economy in Leeds and create a compassionate city where people’s health and wellbeing can be directly improved. Because current Leeds citizens have been involved in the research informing the strategy, the results should be phenomenal and we can’t wait to follow its progress.
To find out more, go to https://leedsourspaces.commonplace.is/about
For future YEP Leeds events, go to: http://www.yepglobal.com/events/