Plans submitted to create new student accommodation and multi-purpose events venue in the heart of Leeds

Downing has submitted a planning application for a major mixed use scheme to create high-quality student accommodation and a brand-new multi-purpose events venue in the heart of Leeds’ cultural district.  

The proposed development would transform two plots of land adjacent to the Leeds First Direct Arena in the city centre, including the site of the soon to be vacated Yorkshire Bank HQ.

The submission includes a detailed planning application for two purpose-built student accommodation buildings on Merrion Way and Clay Pit Lane and also seeks outline consent for a new multi-purpose events space, the development of which would be taken forward by Leeds City Council at a later date.

The proposed student accommodation scheme will address the need for high-quality student housing in the city. The proposals comprise 1,200 student bedrooms, across two of buildings of 38 and 17-storeys respectively, including a mixture of five and six-bed cluster flats with shared living/dining spaces and individual studio units, along with a range of accessible bedrooms. The sustainable development will incorporate photovoltaic panels and air source heat pumps.

If approved, the plans will also pave the way for the creation of a 9,940 square metre facility at the centre of the Leeds Arena Quarter, designed to attract additional corporate, cultural and live events to the city and provide Leeds’ residents with an exciting new amenity.

Based on projections for similar-sized events facilities, it is estimated that a new multi-purpose events space in Leeds could contribute up to £13.5 million of Gross Value Add (GVA) to the local economy every year. The proposed development of the multi-purpose events space will offer 2,000 square metres of flat floor space used for exhibitions, banqueting, standing and seated entertainment events, 1,700 square metres of breakout and seminar space, and a 900 seat auditorium for conferences. The facility will be able to host popular gigs and shows that require a more intimate space than is offered by the First Direct Arena, but larger capacities than other venues in Leeds, filling a gap in the city’s existing events provision. With a range of different spaces potentially available within the venue, it would also provide opportunities for local community led activities and events.

The proposals for the student accommodation and events venue also have the potential to create approximately 390 jobs in the construction phase and 45 full-time operational roles across the student accommodation and multi-purpose events facility, with the potential for this to rise to up to 200 part-time hospitality positions for large scale events.

The application follows a public consultation which ran in late summer 2021 and found support for the proposed development to be extremely strong, with 85% of respondents stating that they supported the proposals overall.

“Leeds has one of the largest student populations in the UK, with growing demand for purpose-built accommodation. Our proposals will add high quality new living spaces in the heart of the city, close to its esteemed academic institutions.

“Having delivered numerous successful schemes in Leeds, we are excited to have worked closely with the City Council to bring forward plans for a multi-purpose venue which would enrich the city’s events capacity, bringing its offer in-line with other core UK cities.

“Each element of the plan promises to regenerate unused space in part of the city that will benefit economically from additional footfall and provide new opportunities for the local supply-chain.”

George Tyson

Projects Director at Downing

The plans are the latest in a long line of successful developments delivered by Downing in Leeds, including Leeds Central Village, the award-winning Broadcasting Place and the Leeds Beckett School of Arts.