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Adam Sims: 'We have a dream for Leeds'

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Adam Sims, managing director of One Leeds, on plans to build a ‘game-changing’ £1 billion development south of the city centre

What is the One Leeds scheme?
We are developing his site with a purpose – to house World Trade Centre exhibition halls and conference centres.

It includes everything we need as human beings to exist in a city  - offices, shops, essential services such as doctors, nursery, dentist, dry cleaners, convenience stores , plus restaurants, bars and cafes, game-changing residential units, apartments 2.0 and town house style units for families and older generations. We also want it to be the region’s number one leisure destination with its 5 acre green park, water fountains and art installations .

Why did you choose Ian Simpson for this project?
We wanted the UK’s best architect outside of London, Ian is one of the best architects in the world and certainly the best post-industrial architect this country has ever produced.

How have the proposal been received?
Our plans have been warmly received with genuine excitement and they have been [explained to a raft of] key stakeholders, from the chair of the LEP to the chair of the Civic Trust, from local councillors to the prime minister’s special advisors and the Shadow Chancellor.  

How do you respond to claims the plans are ‘pie in the sky’?
A lot of big projects have that label until they are delivered. We have a dream and we are prepared to work until our last breath - if that is what it takes to make the dream a reality.

We’ve been negotiating with [part landowners] Carlsberg for more than a year both in the UK and in Copenhagen and directly with their UK chief exectuive since April.  Carlsberg understand their obligations to our city and they have a top team of executives who we believe will do the right thing for Leeds.  We’ve also shown our plans to ASDA’s chief executive via the City’s inward investment agency Leeds and Partners.  

Isn’t part of this site earmarked for a HS2 station?
HS2 will bring people from around the world straight to the Southbank. So the site needs to be a landmark worthy of a great city. Not just world class but world leading. That’s what we’re intending to create.

If the scheme did get off the ground would you be looking at getting other architects involved?
We’d like Frank Gehry to design a public art installation, and we would also like young innovative architects to work alongside Ian and Rachel Haugh to design some of our public spaces and essentially the park. We want the park to be one of the best in the world and that requires imagination, vision and creativity. If we can find that from a younger generation we will hire that talent in a flash.

What are you looking for in an architect? 
Imagination, vision and creativity and essentially soul and spirit. Leeds is a complex city with a strong industrial past and we’d like someone who understands who we are as people and where we are going.

One Leeds masterplan

One Leeds masterplan

What do you think of Leeds city council’s vision for the area and their approach to planning generally?
The Southbank plan is really good, we have strong feelings towards providing public space and community services and we believe are wholly aligned with the [council’s] vision for the city.

Which regeneration scheme inspires you most?
There are too many to mention. The stand outs are - Canary Wharf for the creating a new part of London and a new financial centre for the UK. Millennium Park in Chicago for the amazing civic spaces created and Meadowhall in Sheffield for the sheer fact that Paul Sykes transformed a rusty old industrial area into an estate now valued at around £1.6billion which millions of people have enjoyed the benefit of and will continue to do so for generations to come. 

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Be yourself and think big

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I can see some pink boxes, some green boxes, some tall ones, and an egg shaped park. Being an architect has never been easier.

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