Chairman's Blog: Property and partnerships

I was fortunate enough to lead the Leeds City Region’s largest ever delegation to MIPIM UK in London last month, and was energised by the united ambition of both the private and public sectors to drive economic growth across our City Region.

Scale and opportunity

During the three-day conference and exhibition, I met with delegates from around the world including China, The Netherlands, Canada and America. It was clear from those conversations that the investment opportunities in Leeds City Region, including some of the large scale opportunities currently in the pipeline such as Thorpe Park Leeds by Scarborough Group, Victoria Gate in Leeds by Hammerson, The HD One in Huddersfield by Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd, and our big six investment opportunities including Bradford City Centre Growth Zone, York Central and the M62/M1 corridor in Wakefield – are gathering global interest and investor momentum is continuing to grow. Development investment and infrastructure alone in our City Region is approaching £10 billion.

I am especially pleased by continued progress on the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone, where Muse Developments recently announced the completion of its 80,000 sq ft industrial unit at Logic Leeds. David Wells, the Regional Director of Muse, quoted that a number of firms are interested in the site following the recent announcement by the John Lewis Partnership that it will be occupying the neighbouring plot on the estate with it start of the art 50,500 sq ft distribution warehouse in spring next year. Alongside this, Samuel Grant marked the opening of its new 50,000 sq ft warehouse, on the Thornes Farm site, while Temple Green has also secured two new planning consents from Leeds City Council to open up the access to some 950,000 sq ft of proposed new industrial space on Phases 3 and 4 of its £96m, 165 acre site.

Making the Northern Powerhouse a reality

The collaboration between industry and civic leaders on display at MIPIM UK affirms to me that we are on the right path to achieving extraordinary growth in our City Region. And it’s not just collaboration within the City Region that’s driving forward growth, but collaboration across the North as well.

As I wrote in my previous blog, the Northern Powerhouse is still a work in progress. But colleagues from across the great Northern city regions of Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and Leeds are working together to make a virtue of our strengths to open up new national and international opportunities. There was unanimity on this point during a panel discussion at MIPIM UK in which I participated with Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, Pat Ritchie, Chief Executive of Newcastle City Council, Ged Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of Liverpool City Council, and Diana Terris, Chief Executive of Barnsley Council. Of course there is healthy competition between these powerhouse city regions, but we’re determined to race to the top together for the benefit of the millions of people who live in the North and pool together our unique strengths and assets to ignite this powerhouse in the North.

Securing the right deal

There was much to celebrate at MIPIM UK but we must not be blinded by the light. The North still faces many challenges as last week’s State of the North report from the IPPR North think tank highlighted. Devolution could be the key to helping us meet these challenges head-on, but it’s vital we get this right if we are to seize what the Chancellor has called a “once in a generation opportunity”.

As a businessman, I believe in building on what works and, as our united front at MIPIM UK shows, our City Region partnerships clearly work. There is exceptional trust and cooperation between local businesses and councils which is delivering impact across the region. Through our 2014 Growth Deal – the largest of any LEP in the country – our City Region has already secured many of the devolved powers and investment announced in the Manchester, Sheffield City Region and North East devolution deals.

With all this in mind, it’s important that we secure the right devolution deal, one I believe that should be focused on an economic geography, economic evidence and economic outcomes, to ensure that all our businesses and residents are able to share in the benefits of a stronger economy that delivers our full ambitions.

Partnership in practice

The Leeds City Region MIPIM UK 2015 was the largest ever City Region investment delegation, bringing together 55 industry and civic leaders, demonstrating strong private and public sector partnerships in practice. It was encouraging to see representatives from all of the City Region’s local authorities share the stage with their private sector colleagues and so I’d like to thank everyone who was involved; Thorpe Park Leeds our headline sponsor, Hammerson, Commercial Estates Group, Shulmans and The HD One our sponsors; and our partners, Arcadis, Bilfinger GVA, Deloitte Real Estate, Gent Visick, Savills and Turner & Townsend.

To find out more about Leeds City Region’s attendance at MIPIM UK and its delegation visit: Or if you are interested in investment opportunities in the Leeds City Region contact our inward investment team on 0113 378 1555 or email