City Square renovation should provide a ‘Leeds welcome’, council says

A document, set to be discussed by the authority’s Executive Board next week, speaks of the importance of the plans to provide the “Leeds Welcome” for those visiting the city, adding that the area will be many people’s first experience of the district.

A design competition, led by the Royal Institute of British Architects, was started in September to determine design options for the future redesign of City Square, with the final plans expected to be announced in the summer of 2021.

The report, set to go before councillors next week, states: “City Square is a gateway piece of public realm in Leeds city centre. It is often the first experience people have of Leeds when arriving in the city and a key gateway for most visitors, residents and workers. It is the pivotal area of public realm in the city centre, from which a matrix of parks, green spaces and squares connect.

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The plans could see City Square double in size.
The plans could see City Square double in size.

“These spaces provide and embrace activities and active lifestyles such as social interaction, external dining, cycling, walking, running and relaxation. It provides the ‘Leeds Welcome’ which should be a positive first impression and experience of a city that feels as good as it looks.”

It added that an expanded City Square would contribute to economic recovery from Covid-19 by supporting businesses to increase on-street trade, while there would be “great potential” to increase outside seating for existing businesses in the area.

On Channel 4’s impending arrival in the former Majestic cinema, it added: “A traffic free, vibrant location will provide an attractive setting for news reporting and a positive impression of the city.”

A short list of designers is set to be drawn up next month while decisions around which developer will be selected to do the work is expected around June 2021.

The report concludes: “The increase of available space for public realm provides a unique opportunity to reconsider City Square and its wider environment. The increase in space will also allow consideration of the form and function of the space and create the opportunity to recreate a space which reflects our ambition to be the best city.”

The report is set to be discussed by councillors at Leeds City Council’s Executive Board on Wednesday, November 18.

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