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Leeds tower axed in housing market fall

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Make’s Spiracle tower in Leeds city centre has been scrapped due to a collapse in confidence in the residential property market – and more schemes could follow suit, an expert in the city has warned.
Developer Fairbriar has decided to pull out of the £160 million redevelopment of the Leeds International Pool site – a joint venture with HBG Properties – spelling the end for the cylindrical 24-storey ‘centrepiece’ apartment block (pictured).

Project architect Sean Affleck admitted ‘the time wasn’t right’ for the skyscraper, which was first unveiled back in 2005. He said: ‘It is a shame because this was a fantastic building. But there’s a loss of confidence – everyone is a little bit nervous.’

It is understood HBG Properties, Leeds City Council’s preferred bidder for the plot, intends to press on with a revised, mixed-use plan using the remaining half of the original design team, Leeds- and London-based Carey Jones.

However, demolition of the 1960s John Poulson-designed pool has been put back until September and the council has now submitted an application to build a temporary car park on the site while proposals are finalised.

Leeds property agent Jonathan Morgan believes the ditching of the Make scheme is the tip of an iceberg. He said: ‘This is no surprise, as the rate of residential delivery in Leeds has been outstripping the rate of take-up.

‘With the lack of available finance for developers and the amount of properties in the planning pipeline [circa. 25,000 households] there will be more residential schemes mothballed.’

He added: ‘We are in a period where developers are not taking any risks, and I expect this to last for up to another two years.’

Doubts have also been raised about Architecture 2B’s Arc, the replacement for Levitt Bernstein’s doomed CASPAR prefab housing scheme in the city centre. According to Architecture 2B, the future of the scheme and its developer, the Life Property Group, is ‘in the balance’ due to the market slowdown.

Meanwhile, also in Leeds, Assael Architecture’s Green Bank housing project for Wimpey City, which was put on ice last year, could resurrect itself in a new ‘commercial-led’ format.

But Leeds city architect John Thorp denied the city was in crisis. He said: ‘Leeds is not in retreat – it is more a time to adapt and adjust existing plans.’
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