Regeneration aims to draw the crowds while protecting city centre’s heritage

Work is under way on the latest phase of a regeneration programme which aims to support local businesses and revive the traditional character of one of Leeds city centre’s most historic streets.

The New Briggate High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) programme – a partnership between Leeds City Council and Historic England – has provided grant aid for significant repairs and refurbishments to a row of shops and commercial units opposite Leeds Grand Theatre.

The work – which includes fitting of timber sash windows and reinstatement of traditional design features to shopfronts – is expected to take about five months.

This phase of the programme follows positive recent progress on other HAZ-funded improvements to New Briggate, including restoration of stylish terrazzo paving at the entrance to the Grand Arcade.

The HAZ work is part of a wider transformation of the area designed to give shops and other independent local businesses an ideal environment in which to trade and flourish.

Key elements of the wider transformation include:

  • Pedestrianisation of the lower end of New Briggate to create a traffic-free space complete with trees, benches, ‘street cafe’ seating and a spruced-up entrance to the St John’s churchyard;
  • Delivery by the council of other enhancements to New Briggate’s highway infrastructure, including wider pavements and new cycling facilities;
  • Public realm improvements – including new surfacing and footways – on Merrion Street, which plays an important role in the city centre’s night-time economy;
  • Opera North’s completion of the £18m redevelopment of its buildings on New Briggate and the adjacent Harrison Street.

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure, said: “It’s really exciting to see improvement work starting on these buildings, with the finished results set to make New Briggate an even more attractive place to live, shop and spend time.

“The Heritage Action Zone programme highlights the way that the council, alongside partners, can have a transformational impact on streets that we already know and love.

“By creating well-connected and people-friendly spaces across the city, we’re shaping the kind of environment that will attract further investment.”

Similar improvements to other properties on New Briggate are currently in the pipeline, again thanks to funding from the HAZ programme.

Cllr Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “We’re hugely proud of Leeds’s heritage and the part its history continues to play in the thriving, fast-moving city we call home.

“The work on New Briggate combines those two ideas perfectly, with improvements that are designed to bring in more shoppers and visitors, but which are also in keeping with the area’s storied past.”

One of the most visible results of the programme has been the restoration of the Grade II-listed Grand Arcade’s terrazzo pavement entrance.

Damaged and cracked paving was replaced by a like-for-like design, with the work being carried out by Andrews Tiles and funded by a HAZ grant awarded to Grand Arcade owner ATC Properties.

Douglas West, property director at ATC Properties, said: “The Grand Arcade is one of the city’s most impressive and historic retail spaces and, as owners, we are always keen to give it the love, care and attention it deserves.

“We were therefore pleased to be able to work with Leeds City Council on the restoration of the terrazzo pavement outside our New Briggate entrance, with this refreshed area now providing a suitably-stylish approach to the arcade.”