Jewel in Leeds' crown gets new setting


Leeds City Council has unveiled a ‘stylish new look’ for one of the most famous landmarks in the centre of the city.

The area around Leeds Corn Exchange has been transformed by both a public realm scheme and a major package of highways improvements, with the latter forming part of the £173.5m Leeds Public Transport Investment Programme (LPTIP).

The council said it and its partners have spent the last year creating a world-class piece of pedestrianised open space, acting as the perfect complement to the Grade I listed landmark.

Nearly 1,750 square metres of public realm has been created outside the Corn Exchange by upgrading two existing pedestrian areas and removing the stretch of Call Lane that runs between New Market Street and Crown Street.

New seating, trees and sandstone paving are among the design features contributing to what the council called of an accessible space that can be enjoyed day-to-day by shoppers, workers, residents and visitors alike.

The LPTIP highways work has seen new bus, cycle and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure being put in place in the area around the Corn Exchange and across the wider city centre.

An integrated cycleway runs east-west adjacent to the ‘plaza-style’ area, which the council said will also serve as an ideal location for the kind of pop-up events and gatherings that add to the vibrancy of life in Leeds.

Helen Hayden, executive member for infrastructure and climate, said: ‘The Corn Exchange is one of the jewels in Leeds’ crown and we are so pleased that it now has the high-quality setting that it deserves.

‘The creation of the public space and the improvements to local roads will give the area an exciting new lease of life while at the same time encouraging active travel. People-focused infrastructure projects like these will also make our city more investable and help unlock its full commercial potential.’

The building’s owner, Rushbond plc, played a key role in the public realm scheme, both as a design partner and co-funder.

Managing director Jonathan Maud said: ‘It’s thanks to the collective vision of all involved in this scheme that Leeds Corn Exchange now has a world-class public space fitting for this unique gem of a building and much-loved Leeds icon.

‘Inspired by Cuthbert Brodrick’s wonderful architecture with its striking roof structure, this important milestone will allow the building once again to play a central role in the city, linking the beautiful, buzzing interior of the Corn Exchange with an elegant outdoors space.’

Funding for the public realm scheme has been supplied by the council, Rushbond and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, with the combined authority’s share coming through the Government’s Getting Building Fund.

The work on site has been carried out by John Sisk & Son Ltd.

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