Martin Farrington, Leeds City Council

Real Estate Publishers recently caught up with Leeds City Council’s Director of City Development, Martin Farrington, about his role in promoting one of the UK’s largest cities at what is an exciting time of new development in Leeds.

London vs Leeds

“London is a world city and the characteristics of the real estate market in inner-London are particular to London only. Outside of that area, you then enter into a secondary market, which is similar to the markets in cities such as Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester – where good development propositions can still work, especially if the public and private sector work well together and understand who is best placed to take the lead and who is best to support.

Why invest in Leeds?

“Leeds has a number of strengths. On the leisure side, the Leeds Arena is a fantastic development being brought forward, which is also bringing with it a host of other development opportunities. The new arena will set a benchmark in Europe, which is where Leeds wants to be recognized.

“On the retail side, we’ll also benefit from the largest retail development to open in Europe next year, namely Land Securities’ £350 million Trinity Leeds project, which we’re supporting.

“On the office market, we’re bringing forward our Sovereign Street site. This centrally located site is really our trump card at the moment. It’s only two minutes’ walk from the main train station in Leeds. It will provide a new central business district in Leeds, and we’re fortunate to have a partnership arrangement with KPMG as the first anchor tenant on the site. On the back of this we have seen high subscription and interest in the remaining development plots at this site.”

What sets Leeds apart from other regional cities?

“Leeds doesn’t compete with London, but competes on a regional level, particularly in terms of its legal and financial services sectors. There are a number of full service legal practices that do international business here and can compete with London law firms in terms of fees. And the strength of the Leeds office market is that it has such high-quality office occupiers as part of its mix.

“Manchester and Birmingham are fantastic cities in their own right. But what Leeds offers is an excellent quality of life. We have protected the green belt, so that the city still has an urban core, surrounded by distinctive towns and villages, which few cities have today and which I do think sets us apart.”

Related Features