First allocation of Growing Places Fund boosts development of derelict sites
Property Developers Yorkshire Design Group (YDG), based in The Calls, Leeds, were the first ever business to receive a loan allocation from the Leeds City Region Growing Places Fund back in 2012.
The remediation of the former Yorkshire Chemicals site that was unused for 10 years has provided employment for six full-time workers for six months as well as the expertise of local architects, engineers and quantity surveyors. Extensive remedial work involved eco-friendly ‘pump and treat’ techniques and sinking an 8-metre deep concrete barrier wall to deal with contamination from an adjoining site.
£2m remediation project funded
Looking back, Managing Director, Peter Connolly described the economic climate at the time of his application as “miserable and desperate”. Being relatively small and flexible, YDG did manage to ride it out and, with the help of the loan from the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Growing Places Fund, they initiated the regeneration of a large site close to Leeds City Centre, creating a catalyst for hundreds of new jobs for people in the area.
After identifying two derelict sites, totaling 7.2-acres south of Crown Point Bridge either side of Black Bull Street, YDG was able to secure a bank loan on its existing equity to buy the land. However, the project was still held back due to lack of vital finance to remediate the site. This is where the Growing Places Fund, that provided loans to projects that can demonstrate growth and employment in the region, met their shortfall with a loan of £2m.
Huge local employment boost
This southbank land is now a prime site that has facilitated £30m of development investment that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. Plans to build a new £15m campus for Leeds College of Building to BREEAM sustainability standards have been given the green light potentially creating hundreds of full-time jobs in the region and revitalising a once derelict area of Leeds City Centre.
A new free school has also chosen the site for its Ruth Gorse Academy to be built. The school is planned to open in September 2014 and will offer over 250 places to year 7 students.
Paul Ellison, YDG Operations Director said “No other major city in England has a piece of prime development land of such a size so close to its city centre. This has enabled YDG to develop a new area of operations and raised our profile significantly.”
YDG were not only the first business to agree the loan with the Leeds City Region LEP but they are also the first business to pay the loan back entirely.
Peter Connolly subsequently recommended the Growing Places Fund to other partners in their industry, telecoms and IT, which resulted in at least one other application to Round 2 of the Fund, which closed last year
“The project was in an intractable position but the Growing Place Fund unlocked the door to a turnaround in fortunes of the site and facilitated substantial growth in our business.” Peter Connolly, Managing Director, Yorkshire Design Group.