Q&A with Vastint UK’s Simon Schofield

Aire Park is one of the most significant development masterplans to come forward in Leeds this century, with the potential to provide jobs, homes and destination activities on a massive scale as the city’s aspirations for the South Bank advance. Place Yorkshire spoke to Simon Schofield, head of development north at Vastint UK.

What is currently on site at Aire Park, and what are the timelines for completions?

Our initial plans for the site were submitted in 2016 and we’ve made significant progress already, but there are lots of exciting elements in the pipeline which everyone from local businesses to residents can get involved in.

The first new buildings on the site will complete this year and we’re really excited to open the doors to 1 and 3 South Brook Street. Not only are these the first of Aire Park’s commercial buildings but they are also the first part of the city’s newest commercial district, South Brook Street, which takes its name from a historic street which connected Hunslet Lane to Crown Point Road. Offering 210,476 sq ft of grade A office space, interest in these buildings is already high.

Office space is close to complete. Credit: Place North

Once complete, South Brook Street will feature seven buildings, creating space for over 8,000 workers, 730,000 sq ft of grade A commercial space, including some of the largest floorplates available in Leeds. Designed with ESG and resilience at their heart, the buildings are targeting a BREAAM ‘Excellent’ certification, as well as having been pre-certified for a WELL Platinum accreditation.

The next building to complete will be MU4, an 81,591sqft bull-nosed office building with ground floor retail.

Alongside our new buildings, we’ve also recently launched the first pieces of new public realm known as Tetley Green and Theatre Gardens. These areas connect 1 and 3 South Brook Street to The Tetley and form part of the site’s eight-acre public park.

Generous floorplates will be available, said Schofield. Credit: Place North

What’s happening with The Tetley?

We have now submitted our planning application to safeguard the future of the iconic Tetley building. Our plans will see the basement level transformed into a bar and restaurant area and opened up to the public. The ground floor will feature a new food hall as well as new amenities including Changing Places facilities.

In addition, the first-floor plans show an event space and business lounge with the upper floors creating 13,000 sq ft of office space. We’ve also proposed an extension be added to the eastern façade of the building, which has traditionally always been connected to other buildings within the brewery complex. As the custodians of this cherished Leeds landmark, our plans aim to breathe new life into this almost 100-year-old building whilst retaining many of its historic features.

Most recently we revealed our plans for the final phase of the Aire Park masterplan which will see the development extend south of Crown Point Road bringing additional residential and leisure space as well as an extension to the park and public realm as detailed in the OPA II second outline planning application.

Plans have been lodged for a new direction at The Tetley. Credit: Place North

What will be delivered on the residential side?

When complete, Aire Park will deliver 1,400 high-quality homes with easy access to Leeds city centre and convenient routes to the train station in only seven minutes.

We have submitted a planning application for the first phases of residential buildings within Aire Park, which will bring 421 new homes to the area across seven buildings. The homes will be a mixture of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with balconies, access to communal courtyards and a concierge service.

Designed to promote wellbeing and healthy lifestyles, the development is centred around the public park, populated with 700 trees, which will host one of the largest outdoor event spaces and children’s play areas in the city.

As well as being close to nature, residents will also enjoy a vibrant eco-system of shops, bars and restaurants, with the refurbished Tetley building as a focal point.

Can you talk us through the key points of Outline Planning Application II?

Situated south of Crown Point Road with Black Bull Street running from the north-east to the southwest, and the A61 along the south-west boundary, phase two of the masterplan is an extension to our existing site, which strategically connects the South Bank to the city centre and Leeds Dock, creating an accessible and safe route for pedestrians and cyclists to use.

The plans for the second and final phase of the Aire Park masterplan feature 502 homes (of one to four bedrooms) including affordable housing, 20,000 sq ft of leisure space, earmarked for cafes, restaurants and cultural activities, and a new 500-space multi storey car park.

In addition to the new elements of the built environment, the plans also reveal the final acres of the park and extended public realm. This extension will make the park the largest new city centre green park in the country, providing a wide range of benefits to visitors and future residents including additional outdoor event space for cultural activities.

Phase two takes the scheme beyond Crown Point Road. Credit: Virtual Planit

How has the park been received so far? When will the whole of the new public space be open to the public?

The beginnings of the public realm include the first new green space, aptly named the Tetley Green, located opposite the brewery’s former headquarters. The new greenery was seeded in 2023 and is now blossoming and providing a shot of colour to the area.

We look forward to launching the next piece of green space in the summer of 2025 following two seasons for the seeded grass to develop and bring another wave of colour to the site.

How does the development tie into the emerging transformation of the South Bank?

Part of our drive at Vastint UK is to uncover the potential in fringe city sites which offer a thread of history as well as the chance to make a long-term impact on the area. Aire Park is such a development, as part of the wider regeneration of the South Bank area of Leeds we know it will have a transformational impact on the city.

We passionately believe that Aire Park is a cornerstone of this regeneration project. A key part of our new public realm will be the promotion of new active travel routes offering safe connections for pedestrians and cyclists between the city centre, South Bank and Leeds Dock.

Can you tell us about the supply chain?

The overall masterplan was designed by Supervene, with Ryder designing 1 and 3 South Brook Street, and Supervene and Enjoy Design delivering designs for The Tetley which will preserve the iconic landmark for another century. We’re also working with Planit to deliver the landscaping within our new park.

What are the one-off elements that make Aire Park stand out?

The 1 and 3 South Brook Street buildings have specific design elements which pay homage to their surroundings and heritage. From the brick colour curated to match the existing brickwork of the Tetley building, to the etchings on the buildings’ facings which echo the ornate designs of the parallel Salem Chapel, the buildings have been designed to blend naturally into the Leeds history Aire Park sits amongst.

Across the development, we’re looking to create something new whilst remaining true and sympathetic to the local aesthetic. Within our proposed designs for The Tetley this includes the retention of the art deco façade and other period features such as wood panelling and parquet floorings throughout the building. Any new addition or alteration will work in harmony with the existing building palette and look to feature red brick alongside areas of more ornate arrangement, buff stonework and gold and black detailing as seen in the Tetley’s landmark lettering.


What’s the story with the public realm?

In terms of the public realm and the park space specifically, the parkland landscape has been designed with an emphasis on biodiversity, connectivity and fostering community well-being. The park is being created for all users and will boast events spaces, an amphitheatre, play area, fountains, fitness opportunities, pedestrian and cycle routes and large areas of flexible green space.

An enhanced lighting strategy will maximise the park’s usability and ensure it can be used throughout the day and evening by all members of the community.

The new park is the result of a major collaboration between Planit, Vastint, and Leeds City Council, that provides much needed greenery in the centre of the city. It is the latest in the growing network of green spaces in the area and links the David Oluwale Bridge, Meadow Lane Green Space and Hibiscus Rising to the developing Aire Park.

Aire Park includes eight acres of green space. Credit: via Aberfield

When complete the park will bring over 700 new trees and diverse plants to the city centre not only to create a beautiful space to dwell but also to encourage vital new corridors for pollinating insects and wildlife. Thus, enhancing biodiversity and strengthening the city’s ecosystems.

The expansive green space of Aire Park will serve as a vibrant new hub for the local and wider city community, and its central location enables easy access to the city’s wider transportation, amenities, and cultural attractions. The design integrates several pedestrian and cycle routes, and links to wider bus and cycle hire schemes therefore promoting active and sustainable modes of travel throughout the city centre.

And the transport facilities?

In line with the development’s environmental focus, transport facilities have sustainability at their core. The 500-space multistorey car park will service the commercial space on the development, offering all electric car charging ports, at which point it would become one of the largest EV charging hubs in Europe. The new car park will also include secure bicycle spaces, which is supported with all of the offices including provisions for cyclists to shower and store belongings.

Anything we’ve not covered so far?

Continuing the site’s beer and brewing connections, in addition to breathing new life into The Tetley, the Aire Park masterplan also incorporates the refurbishment of the Crown Hotel pub. The pub, situated on Crown Point Road, closed 30 years ago and as part of our plans will undergo a full restoration creating a new vibrant hospitality offering around Aire Park and the Leeds South Bank.

Our masterplans also include the provision of a new hotel, creating new jobs and space for visitors to the city. Throughout the whole development, our desire is for Aire Park to be a true mixed-use community. A place which offers something for everyone and bolsters the city’s local and visitor economy by offering residents, businesses and visitors something truly different, a slice of nature at the heart of the South Bank.

Work continues on-site, with the Crown Hotel and the phase two plot outside the boundaries. Credit: Place North

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