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Hemingway attacks 'unsustainable' Leeds

Design guru Wayne Hemingway branded Leeds ‘the most unsustainable city’ and full of buildings that ‘were totally indistinguishable from each other’ at a high-level conference yesterday (31 January).

The Red or Dead founder launched a broadside at the quality of the architecture and the public realm in the West Yorkshire hub during the council-led Leeds City Centre Vision conference.

Hemingway, who spoke alongside the likes of Terry Farrell and civic architect John Thorpe, also called on the council to ban any developer whose schemes did not meet the Building for Life Gold standard from ever working in the city again.

He said: ‘The buildings going up today [in Leeds] are totally indistinguishable from each other and will have to be pulled down in less than 50 years. Leeds has got to slow down and start building for posterity – it’s about civic quality and creating buildings which will be still here in 300 years.

‘If developments are seen as being just temporary… then in terms of energy use [Leeds] is the most unsustainable city.’

Attacking the city’s disjointed public spaces, he added: ‘Wherever you go in Leeds, you hit a full stop. You see other cities go through such development upheaval and manage to keep people flowing.’

He went on to say that Leeds did not offer ‘cradle to grave’ living, and that although ‘loads and loads’ of good words had been written about the future, the city was failing to deliver and could not live up to its branding ‘Live It, Love It'.

During a question-and-answer session after Hemingway’s salvo, he admitted that a similar outburst at the quality of the public realm in Salford had not been listened to. Asked how his comments as a design consultant had been received by the local council, he said ‘Shit'.

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