The area first developed about two hundred years ago in what was then the village of Holbeck. Activities such as flax spinning, iron casting and machine manufacturing were carried out in a range of steam-powered mills and workshops. Interspersed amongst these mills and factories were hundreds of families living in poor conditions in back to back houses.
Why was an urban village created?
The northern part of Holbeck is an area that is in need of major regeneration and in which there is now strong developer interest. It is also an area that is of great importance both historically, as the cradle of the industrial revolution in Leeds, and architecturally, with two conservation areas and a number of listed buildings including the Grade I Temple Works. The special nature of this area merits a special response from developers that respects the scale and quality of its important buildings, the diversity of the area and its potential to develop into a sustainable community. It was clear from the early schemes to re-develop the area a decade or so ago that this was not happening and that the special quality of the area was being lost. In order for the future of Holbeck to be sustainable, the traditional principles of a village, which include a mixture of living, working and recreational opportunities, need to be adopted. It appeared to be appropriate to regenerate the area as an urban village and the Urban Villages Forum (which promotes urban villages) confirms this. The area was subsequently declared an urban village by Leeds City Council in 1999. The effect of this to date has been to increase developer confidence in the area and to change the nature and quality of redevelopment schemes.
The whole of Holbeck Urban Village is designated as a mixed-use area. Mixed-use should apply at the level of the individual development with a range of different types of activity within it, usually separated out vertically, having different uses at different levels. Ground floors adjacent to public footpaths and squares should be reserved for active uses, e.g. retail, food and drink sales, leisure, small-scale office suites or professional services. This will generate pedestrian movement and offer the opportunity in appropriate buildings for window displays which will help to develop a lively public realm and provide ‘eyes on the street’ to enhance personal safety. Retail development will be restricted in scale to ancillary uses, supporting the local population only. This should be provided in a single, central location within the Temple Works area where consent has already been granted. Upper floors could provide opportunities for a variety of uses including residential, hotel, leisure, and workspace such as research and development or office use. The area is known to be suitable for IT-based uses because of the presence of fibre optic cabling and these uses will be encouraged further, provided that they do not reach a level that excludes all other office uses. IT uses may also relate to arts and creative industries and give added impetus to digital arts and media focus for the area. The area is also likely to be attractive to artists, sculptors and musicians because of its unique character and the availability of suitable accommodation. The development of a creative industries quarter in the railway arches on the west side of Bath Road will be encouraged. Encouragement will also be given to activities that support the residential population planned for this area as well as the wider city centre population. This might include, for instance, medical facilities such as doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries and a crèche. An appropriate mix of uses should ensure noise impacts are minimised.
A percentage of each residential development should be affordable, in accordance with Leeds City Council’s revised Supplementary Planning Guidance on affordable housing. Developers should provide a balanced mix of types of