Former insurance company HQ could be turned into 230 co-living homes

Plans to deliver 230 new co-living homes in the city centre have been submitted to Leeds City Council.

The proposals for 42 The Headrow – the former Direct Line HQ building – are being brought forward by Watkin Jones Group, a developer, builder and third-party manager specialising in new homes for rent across the UK and Ireland.

Self-contained studio apartments are being proposed, each with their own living, cooking and en-suite facilities.

The building will be designed with shared space for residents to meet, relax and socialise.

The design will repurpose the existing building, maintaining its façade, with new carbon reduction technology that tackles the climate emergency, reduces energy bills and achieves BREEAM Excellent status for energy efficiency.

Emer Green, senior planner at Watkin Jones Group, said: “We received positive and constructive feedback on our proposals when we met with the public and local stakeholders in the summer.

“Co-living is a successful concept in a growing number of major UK cities but is new to Leeds and we are grateful to everyone that took part in the consultation and welcome the comments made.

“As a result of the feedback we received, a number of positive changes have been made to our plans, including an increase in space for residents to use, a covered atrium area to allow year-round relaxation, an on-site gym and an increase in studio sizes.

“We recognise the importance of getting this right, as a new element of the housing mix, and in respecting the prominence of the building and its siting on the Headrow.”

Watkin Jones Group is a specialist developer, builder and third-party operator of new rental homes with strong experience of adding long-term value to communities.

If the redevelopment is approved, 42 the Headrow will also have on-site staff providing a concierge service, along with landscaped roof terraces offering additional space where people can work, meet, and exercise.

Specialist consultants including Turley, SWAP architects and Social Communications have collaborated to support Watkin Jones with the plans.