URBAN REALM: Artist impressions for new Leeds Corn Exchange plans
Early plans to revamp the area around one of Leeds’s most iconic buildings are set to go before council decision-makers next week.
The area around the Corn Exchange looks set for £1m-plus improvements to create public green spaces, pedestrianised streets, as well as a so-called “pavilion” building in the area immediately surrounding the Victorian structure.
It’s all part of council’s “grey to green” plans, which aim to create more green spaces in dense, built-up areas – which hopes to create 6,700 square metres of new “urban realm” by March 2022.
A report, which is set to go before next week’s Leeds City Council Executive Board meeting, states: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Corn Exchange to be re-anchored into the streetscape.
“The new Corn Exchange Pavilion will be an integral element of this transformational programme, to match the ambitions and aspirations of the public realm design in respect of quality, design integrity and climate change responsiveness.”
As part of the plans, the northern section of Call Lane would be closed between Crown Street and New Market Street, creating a wholly pedestrianised area.
The report adds that “street clutter” would be cleared and replaced with street furniture and green spaces, as well as an area for “pop up events”.
It states: “The space is designed to be usable, accessible, vibrant and active – managing the complementary but diverse needs of different people: bus passengers, workers, city shoppers, residents, cyclists, visitors to the Corn Exchange, as well as being responsive to the climate emergency.”
A “pavilion” building would also be set in the grounds, which will be a satellite building to the Corn Exchange that is expected to be developed by CX (Leeds) Limited, the occupiers of the Corn Exchange.
The document added: “A design team has been assembled, led by the award-winning architectural practice Carmody Groake working in collaboration with the wider city council-led design team, to progress the designs, to evolve an exemplar building in line with the wider ambitions around Our Spaces.
“The building will be capable of being used by one or two occupiers for a variety of uses, one of which is likely to be café, with a responsible design in relation to energy usage, choice of materials, biodiversity and life-cycle demands, supporting and contributing both direct and indirect to the vibrancy, vitality and sustainability of the Corn Exchange and the wider renaissance of the Kirkgate area.”
The scheme overall is expected to cost just over £1.5m – with £300,000 coming from the private sector.
The Corn Exchange was opened in 1863, having been designed by influential Victorian architect Cuthbert Brodrick, who also designed Leeds Town Hall. The building was renovated into a retail space in 1990, before further refurbishment in 2008.
The council hopes work can start on site in May this year, and be completed by November.
Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter
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