28th May 2021

Green light for development is hailed as major boost for Leeds City Council’s City Square vision

Leeds City Council has hailed confirmation that work is set to start on a major office development in City Square as a vote of confidence for its drive to breathe exciting new life into this key gateway site.

City Square House will stand on the Wellington Street side of the square, near Leeds City Station and the recently-revamped Majestic building.

Global law firm DLA Piper has signed a deal with developer MRP to take more than 80,000 sq ft of prime office space in the 12-storey development. Leading UK design and build contractor, McAleer & Rushe will commence construction later this year on the project which will meet the needs of the post-coronavirus era through a clever blend of technology, open plan design and roof gardens.

It is one of a number of forward-thinking schemes coming together in City Square, with the Majestic having been chosen as the home of Channel 4 following a stylish and sensitive redevelopment of the landmark former cinema, ballroom and restaurant.

Work is also continuing on several projects to improve Leeds City Station as part of the Leeds Integrated Station Masterplan, while a competition was launched in September to find an expert design team that will help give an eye-catching and environmentally-friendly new look to City Square’s public space.

Welcoming news of the green light for City Square House, the council today said the scheme was an ideal illustration of how the business sector – like the rest of Leeds – stands ready to bounce back from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“City Square is already at the heart of life in Leeds and we are determined to improve it still further, creating a world-class space that is a source of pride for all our residents.

“The new development will help us achieve that aim and I look forward to seeing it take shape alongside the many other transformative projects planned for the city centre.

“It also offers a timely reminder that Leeds is very much open for business, despite the huge challenges posed by COVID-19.

“Schemes like City Square House will form part of a Leeds-wide effort to ensure our economy recovers from the pandemic in a way that leaves no one behind.”

One of the largest law firms in the world, DLA Piper can trace its story back 250 years to the establishment of a founding office in Leeds.

DLA Piper quote

Andrew Dyson, Leeds office managing partner at DLA Piper, said:

“Leeds is an integral part of the heritage of DLA Piper and our move to City Square House represents our long term commitment to the city.

“We employ just short of 600 people in Leeds, currently across two sites.  This move will bring our two Leeds offices under one roof and will no doubt give us many more opportunities to collaborate on a number of levels.

“These new state of the art offices will be a huge asset for us in retaining our great people and continuing to attract the very best talent from the region and beyond.

“This is a bold move given the current climate, it is also an exciting opportunity for us to design an office for the future way in which our people and our clients will work together.  In light of the pandemic this feels more important now than ever before.”

Angus Monteith, Property Director at MRP said: “We are confident in the opportunities this major £85m development will present to the City of Leeds which will act as a catalyst for future investment. We are delighted to secure DLA Piper as the anchor tenant for City Square House, a global law firm, with such a strong local history.”

Eamon Fox, partner at property consultancy Knight Frank in Leeds, advised DLA Piper on the deal.

Around 600 of the law firm’s staff are due to move into the new building in 2024 following a year-long fit-out that will create best-in-class workspace with large flexible floorplates of up to 16,000 sq ft, upper level terraces and a double height reception area.

Exterior glazing will provide a pleasing complement to the classical façade of the neighbouring Majestic, where nearly three years of redevelopment work has been carried out – and now finished – by the Leeds-based Rushbond Group.

Channel 4 confirmed in December 2019 that the Majestic would be its new national headquarters, with the broadcaster set to take up residence there later this year.

Nearby, the area around Leeds City Station is in line for enhancements as part of the Sustainable Travel Gateway scheme, which has secured £39.5m of funding from the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund. Works are due to start towards the end of 2021.

The design competition for City Square’s public space, meanwhile, is being led by the Royal Institute of British Architects on behalf of the council and contractor Balfour Beatty.

The reimagining of the area as a whole could see it doubling in size and closing to general traffic, reducing carbon emissions and offering a stunning, inclusive welcome to the culturally-rich and vibrant centre of Leeds for residents and visitors alike.

The redesigned City Square will be positioned among an enhanced network of pedestrian and cycle-friendly routes, boosting footfall and revenue for local and independent businesses as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The design competition is part of the council’s wider Our Spaces strategy for delivering improved public realm for the people of Leeds.

Recent additions to the area around City Square include the Platform office building – an ultra-modern redevelopment of the old City House tower block above Leeds City Station – and the 34 Boar Lane contemporary workspace hub.

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