Leeds City Council and CEG: Transforming an industrial site into a mixed-use community

CEG is leading the development of the 57 acre Kirkstall Forge scheme in Leeds which is transforming the oldest industrialised site in England into a thriving mixed-use community in a unique wooded, riverside setting.

Once complete, the scheme will comprise 1,050 new homes, 300,000 ft² of offices and 100,000 ft² of retail, leisure and community space including a new school. 

CEG has managed almost £40 million of investment to date, in site clearance, decontamination, delivery of infrastructure such as utilities and roads and opening the first new railway station in Leeds for decades. The first 110,000 ft² flagship office, Number One Kirkstall Forge, opened in November 2017 and was almost 70 per cent pre-let at completion, with four floors occupied as Zenith’s UK headquarters. A reserved matters planning application was approved in November 2017 for the first phase of residential and leisure development.

The success of the scheme comes from a genuine and strong public and private partnership. In September 2003, Leeds City Council approved supplementary planning guidance for the redevelopment of Kirkstall Forge into a mixed-use community, creating a planning framework for the forge to guide the redevelopment.

Following extensive community and stakeholder engagement, CEG submitted an outline planning application in February 2005 and outline planning permission was granted in summer 2007. CEG’s approach to involving local people in pre-application consultation is highlighted as exemplary by Leeds City Council in its document ‘Protocol for pre-application discussions with local communities and ward councillors.’

CEG worked with Leeds City Council (LCC), West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and predecessors, the local enterprise partnership (LEP), rail industry and the constituency MP to secure a rail growth funding package from government.

This unity with the city council, WYCA and other public sector partners has helped to turn our vision of Kirkstall Forge into an award-winning reality, with the scheme being recognised for its scale, ambition, partnership and environmental values. “Ultimately, almost 10,000 people will live, work and form a community at the site, bringing millions in new household spend, delivering economic, physical, social and environmental benefits to the area.

Jon Kenny, Development Director, CEG

The Department for Transport agreed to support the £16.9 million required for new stations at Kirkstall Forge and nearby Apperley Bridge with £10.3 million of funding. However, this needed to be delivered within a tight timetable and private finance for the remaining 40 per cent was limited at a time of economic downturn. A Growing Places Fund loan via the LEP allowed CEG to finance its contribution, unlocking the funding package for both new stations. A new junction, access road and bridge were also necessary to open up the site and connect to the new station.

These works were delivered by LCC via a section 278 agreement using Public Works Loan Board finance which will be repaid over the coming years.

Together this partnership has successfully delivered a new railway station at the heart of this mixed-use development and within the first five months of opening it has exceeded the predicted annual patronage. It substantially increases the sustainability, viability and attractiveness of Kirkstall Forge, as well as creating a river-crossing, bus and rail interchange to benefit the 15,000 residents of adjacent Kirkstall, Horsforth and Bramley.

It has also helped to secure a significant pre-let deal by Zenith to forward commit to 63,000 ft² of the 110,000 ft², seven-storey office development. 

Such a significant pre-let is testament to the fact that the offer is unique. This is not an out-of-town business park. It is an office with best-in-class specification connected to Leeds City Rail Station in just six minutes.

Number One Kirkstall Forge has also become the first ever commercial property in Yorkshire to be awarded Wired Platinum certification by the digital connectivity rating company WiredScore.

CEG, in partnership with Wates, Leeds City Council and Leeds College of Building is also delivering the Forging Futures Campus, an innovative vocational training programme in a live construction environment. It acts as an apprenticeship hub for the local supply chain network, as well as delivering Leeds’ future architects, bricklayers, civil engineers, joiners, plumbers and electricians through site visits, curriculum projects, hands-on work experience and mentoring support.

The success of Kirkstall Forge is a great example of how public and private sectors working together can bring about inclusive growth and the regeneration of brownfield sites through targeted investment, innovation and being ambitious and imaginative. It also aligns perfectly with our broader values of Leeds being a compassionate city with a strong economy offering opportunities for all.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader, Leeds City Council