Tuesday, 19 August 2008

YEP - Is Leeds' flats boom over?

Nearly 800 homes will not now be built at Manor Road/Sweet Street, Holbeck, Leeds.
19 August 2008
By Debbie Leigh
New figures obtained by the YEP today show a dramatic fall in the number of city-centre flats being built.

Of the 12,700 apartments in the pipeline at the beginning of last year, 7,170 units have been axed or mothballed – equivalent to seven and a half Lumiere skyscrapers.
That means 4,250 flats delayed or ditched in addition to high-profile schemes which have recently fallen victim to the credit crunch like Spiracle, Kissing Towers and Lumiere.

Over five years Leeds had become a symbol of the building boom, known for the number of cranes on its skyline but there were fears the market had reached saturation point.

With the credit crunch making mortgages hard to get and little funding available for residential building projects, many developers cited "current market conditions" as the reason for shelving their schemes.

Units that will not be built include:

1,009 flats at Temple Works, Holbeck;
788 homes at Manor Road/Sweet Street, Holbeck;
584 apartments at Caddick Development's Quarry Hill project;
490 homes at Brunswick Place;
Between 280 and 330 flats at MEPC's Wellington Place;
272 apartments at the Mayfair scheme at Cropper Gate.

Delayed schemes include:
720 units at Crosby Lend Lease's Latitude site, on Globe Road
57 flats at Manor Road.

A spokesman for Kenmore Property Group said it was looking to amend its plans for Cropper Gate, swapping the homes element for commercial uses as Leeds was "probably oversupplied now in terms of residential schemes".

And when Castelmore abandoned its scheme at Brunswick Place it blamed a lack of appetite for large-scale mixed-use developments in the economic conditions.

A spokesman for Crosby Lend Lease said work on its Globe Road site was on hold until market conditions improved.

Andrew Carter, deputy leader of Leeds City Council and executive member for development, said: "The fact that a number of schemes have been put on hold is just a sign of the current economic situation.

"I'm as worried as everybody else about the economic downturn in the UK, I think we are in a for a bumpy ride, but Leeds is better placed than any other northern city – in my view."

Leeds Chamber of Commerce's policy director Ian Williams said the last decade had seen 59,000 jobs created and the estimated value of the city's economy was set to grow from £13bn to £17bn by 2016.

He added: "Leeds is actually in a good position. And even with the recent talk of recession we still have businesses speaking with us on a daily basis, outlining that they are performing well in the current economic climate."

The dwindling property market in Leeds has already seen 1,974 apartments ditched by developers, such as Spiracle on the site of Leeds International Pool, Kissing Towers at Criterion Place and Green Bank.

Work on Lumiere dramatically halted last month because of lack of funding and despite developer KW Linfoot's claims that building could re-start early next year, the scheme remains on hold.

And there could be more homes to bite the dust yet.

Montpellier Estates has outline planning permission for City One, a mixed-use development with 450 homes.

A spokesperson said: "With regards to the residential element of the scheme, this is still under review and has yet to be decided."

City living expert Rachael Unsworth, from the University of Leeds School of Geography, said the building downturn could prove a blessing for the city's future.
"We were heading for a major oversupply of a particular kind of accommodation. We were going down the wrong road and we can reconsider."

Around 850 city-centre flats are expected to be completed this year and there are long-term projects like the 282-unit Isis Waterside Regeneration development at Granary Wharf and 410-unit Saxton by Urban Splash, due to be completed at the end of 2010.

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