Over the last decade the city of Leeds has undergone a lull in development, with many former industrial sites around the centre standing idle. New investment has led to many being developed again, among these the former Monksbridge steelworks on the site of the redundant Leeds & Thirsk Railway, which includes a magnificent “stranded” Grade II listed Gritstone viaduct over 350m long and comprised of twenty massive stone arches.
Working with Alpha Real Trust and Foundation Real Estate, our clients who bought the site in 2015, the design team have a unique opportunity to create a landmark public park on top of the Victorian megastructure to create the amenity and access spaces for a new residential development of significant scale.
The team won the £95 million project in competition in 2015 and have now submitted the design to planning, following positive local political and officer feedback. With an expectation of a resolution to grant consent in early spring 2017.
The brief for the development, as well as delivering 600 homes, at Monksbridge centred on three main objectives;
- To animate and bring life to the upper surface of the historic Grainger viaduct
- To activate and bring people to the arches below
- To create a true sense of place and a destination for Leeds
Surrounded by 600 new “Private Rented Sector” homes, linked to bars, cafes and restaurants, the park will be connected back into the city with lift and stair towers, wrapped in mirror finish steel, lit like torches to guide residents home.
A linear series of mid-rise blocks, in soft red/brown brickwork stand on dark ceramic bases, fluted with salt glazed finish reflecting the viaduct’s stonework. The blocks respond to the viaduct form, curving gently, climbing in scale to a tower of 21 storeys overlooking the River and the city.
The 20 arches, many converted to allow new bars and restaurants are linked to the park by a glazed atrium. The design for these has been developed in line with the guidance and on site discussion with Heritage England and the Victorian Society, who both support the scheme. Where the site meets the Leeds/Liverpool
Our work on Wellington place, both in terms of master planning and regeneration of “city edge” sites, as well as working with listed railway structures meant the team were well placed to bring knowledge and local understanding to the project.
The public space flows from the city, through Wellington Place, and the nearby latitude developments both being comprised of new office space accommodating over 8000 office workers and over to 1500 residents living nearby, along, on top of and under this new “Highline Leeds” which will become a destination for the city, the region and beyond.