Aire Park in Leeds Gets the Green Light!

Opportunities to create new city parks are often few and far between, so we are particularly delighted to announce that plans for Aire Park on Leed’s South Bank have taken a step forward, gaining unanimous planning approval from councillors at the Leeds City Plans Panel. Planit-IE has been working with Vastint UK over the past three years to develop proposals. This decision marks the end of the beginning and celebrates the monumental effort by all the consultants and client to deliver a truly exemplar new public park for Leeds City Centre.

Aire Park will be the “largest new city centre green space in the UK”, and the first two phases will provide approximately 2.3ha of public open space. Future phases of development will continue the park both to the north and south, providing an additional 1.2ha, totalling 3.5ha. This welcome and significant development of public open space is designed under the canopy of the Leeds Climate Emergency declaration in 2019, and we have endeavoured to deliver a space that reflects the needs of Leeds’ future, as well as its present. Design options have been assessed throughout to consider and minimise impacts and benefits to the environment.

As a multi-functional space serving as both a journey and a destination, Aire Park offers a series of verdant connected open spaces, to provide a multitude of facilities and uses throughout the day and night, and all year round. The Tetley Triangle, a new civic heart in the north of the park includes a flexible events space at the foot of the iconic Tetley building to the east, and links to the Grade II Listed Salem Chapel in the west. Concerts, markets, outdoor cinemas, and pop-up events will be programmed within the Tetley Triangle to create a vibrant and dynamic hub, full of life and activity. Nearby, an open grassed amphitheatre-style space allows visitors to sit, relax and enjoy the Tetley Triangle.

On arrival from the west, leading from Meadow Lane, the new Theatre Gardens provides a calming, contemplative, sensory garden where visitors can sit within the perennial planting and take a moment to relax. A raised plinth within the space harks back to the original Theatre which was built on Hunslet Lane in 1771, alas no longer standing, and creates a platform upon which children may play, or stage amateur dramatics, or provide a setting for public art. Plant species have been selected for their scent, texture, colour and seasonal change, as well as their resilience to our changing climate.

The park will be surrounded by mixed use buildings, offering commercial and residential opportunities, and the ground floor uses will provide active frontages along the park’s boundaries. Shops, eateries and café spill out spaces will create flurries of activity that anchor the buildings into the landscape and extend the townscape of Leeds southwards over the River and into the park.

The central green heart of the park features generous sweeping lawns, biodiverse pollinating gardens, a blossoming cherry avenue, a sculpted playable grass mound, and a woodland edge which signals the start of a 1km running track that will extend around the edge of the park. Two new children’s play spaces will be sited adjacent to the woodland edge to allow families to gather and play in a safe, imaginative and exciting environment.

These spaces and elements come together to deliver a landscape that is fair, generous, welcoming and verdant; which provides a healthy green public space for local residents and workers for Leeds today and Leeds tomorrow. We are proud of our designs for Aire Park, and look forward to delivering it in a city which many of us here at Planit-IE hold dear to our hearts. The first two phases are set to be completed by 2023, in time for the Leeds International Culture Festival; see you there, in the park!

Aire Park forms the centre of the new development being brought forward by Vastint, which covers 8.5ha of land including the former Tetley Brewery. Planit-IE is the lead landscape architecture consultants and we have been working with GL Hearn, Curtins, Pritchard Themis, Desco and Stantec.

Written by Hannah Murton, Project Landscape Architect