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Ian Simpson's Leeds Lumiere scheme put on hold

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Ian Simpson’s twin-tower Lumiere scheme in Leeds, which was destined to become the tallest residential development in Europe, has been indefinitely put on ice.

Developer KW Linfoot blamed the lack of available finance for the decision to stop further work on the 173-m high, £220 million city centre project.

However the Yorkshire-based property group said it had not cancelled the 992-apartment scheme and, because the proposals could yet proceed at some point, would not be paying back any deposits. It is understood KW Linfoot had managed to secure pre-sales of around 80 per cent of the homes.

Joint managing director of the company Richard Dean said: ‘It is disappointing to have to change our plans but what we are looking at here is a postponement not a cancellation.

‘We were hit by our inability to find banks in the market willing to fund the scheme at the moment in time.’

The move is the latest twist in the tale surrounding the project, which will feature two towers of 55 and 33 storeys.

Two years ago the scheme was unveiled with a fanfare – a flamboyant party featuring stilt walkers, Del Boy look-a-likes and Philippe Starck (AJ 12.10.06) who was to work on the interior fit-out.

And last year Leeds-based Brewster Bye was brought in as ‘executive’ architect – a move which was followed by the decision to slightly lower the ceiling heights to squeeze in a few more apartments.

Since then construction work has started on the first phase of piling – meaning the decision to mothball the scheme will leave a 0.3ha hole in the city centre.

Councillor Andrew Carter, Leeds City Council's executive member for development, said:

'I was disappointed to hear that work was to cease on the Lumiere building, but clearly Kevin Linfoot has taken the right decision for their business in the current economic climate.

'This serves to underline the severity of the economic downturn and its impact on the city.'

Ian Simpson Architects refused to comment.

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