The government’s design watchdog has hit out at initial proposals by Jacobs and Populous for Leeds’ new city centre arena
CABE’s design review panel said its was concerned about the lack of architectural thinking, in particular regarding the appearance of the 12,500-seat fan-shaped venue in Claypit Lane, and told project backer Leeds Council there needs to be a ‘step change in the quality of design thinking’.
The high-profile project, which also includes a large public square designed by Whitelaw Turkington, will sit on the site of the already demolished Brunswick Terrace campus of Leeds Metropolitan University next to the Leeds Inner Ring Road.
Although ‘applauding the city-centre location’ and ‘the decision to develop a new music venue on this site’, the commission said it could not support the planning application and was worried that an ‘outline planning submission’ would potentially ‘weaken the quality of the finished building by predetermining a site layout that does not make the most of the potential urban design and architectural solutions’.
The review panels added: ‘More thought is needed in order to define how the arena building relates to the city around it and how open space and architecture will work together successfully.’
In response a spokesman for Leeds City Council said: ‘We are pleased that CABE supports the city centre location and recognises the contribution that the Arena will make to the night-time economy.
‘We understand why they don’t like an outline application for a scheme of this nature, however, for practical reasons it is the necessary approach to deliver the scheme at this time. The design is continuing to evolve and develop and we have every confidence that it will achieve a long-term legacy for the city.’
To read more about the Leeds Arena project click here