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12.22 Two studies have been undertaken to help the council plan for future housing and population growth. Both studies have identified the anticipated level of housing growth for the city centre. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) identified a need for 68,000 (net) dwellings throughout Leeds. The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) 2009 identified potential housing sites capable of accommodating up to 20,000 new dwellings in the city centre by 2026. The additional population from this level of housing growth (using an average household size in the city centre of 1.5 persons per dwelling) is 30,000 people. This is the maximum level of potential housing growth and is likely to reduce as the effects of the recession and a lack lustre housing market continue to impact on the development rate up to 2026.
12.23 Nevertheless, it is clear that the city centre population has the potential to increase to between 30,000 to 45,000 people by 2026. The existing open space provision based on the 2008 city centre population estimate is 1.81 hectares per 1,000 population. This level of provision will reduce to 0.97 hectares per 1,000 based on the minimum anticipated population of 30,000 by 2026.
12.24 Table 12.3 below demonstrates the forecast employment growth of the city centre up to 2026. The data shows that the city centre is the hub for financial and business services, with over 43% of the district’s employment in this sector accommodated in the city centre. The overall growth in city centre employment is forecast to rise by 12,205 employees up to 2026 from the 2008 figure. Based on the results of previous consultation, employees in the city centre are almost as demanding as residents when it comes to the provision of open space.
Table 12.3 Leeds City Centre Employment Projections
Setting the quantity standard
12.25 PPG17 suggests that it is not realistic to set a quantity standard for civic spaces in light of their specialist nature. Whilst this may be true of city wide provision, there is a clear growing demand for increased provision of public open space in Leeds City Centre. Civic space makes a valuable contribution to the overall provision. Existing UDPR (2006) policy CC10 states that additional public space is required within the city centre. Any development above 0.5 hectares is currently required to provide at least 20% of the developable area as public space. The limitation with this approach is the small number of city centre sites which are 0.5 hectares or above and the lack of consideration for the full range of open space needs of residents. The majority of the public space provided has been in the form of civic space or more specifically hard standing around a central feature of interest such as art or water.
12.26 Whilst the city centre is the centre of commerce for the region, it has also become popular for city centre living. The city centre has a residential population of 15,700 persons (2008). This is expected to double over the period of the core strategy up to 2026. The city centre is 2.97% of the Leeds urban area, but is expected to accommodate up to 20% of the housing growth of Leeds up to 2026.
12.27 The current provision of city centre civic space calculates at 1.2 hectares per 1,000 population. There was general consensus in the responses to the needs assessment that the provision of civic space across the city was adequate.
City centre figures for 2008 derived from the City Centre Audit (9th Edition)
12.28 Residents perception of open space provision in the city centre was mixed.
Household respondents clearly felt that the city centre does not provide enough space whilst on-street respondents views were mixed with 36% consider there was either not enough or nearly enough and 43% consider provision as ‘about right’.
12.29 The council have been assessing the potential of delivering a city centre park following the city centre visioning conference in 2009. The latest proposals are looking at a site South of the River Aire as shown in Plan 12.2. The identified site is three hectares and if delivered should address the negative resident perceptions of lack of green space and increase the current provision of green space within the most deficient area within the city centre (South of the River Aire).
12.30 PPG17 adds that it is desirable for planning authorities to promote urban design frameworks for their town and city centres. The design and planning of new neighbourhoods should take into account the demand for new civic spaces from local residents and ensure that such spaces are incorporated within master plans.
Existing level of city centre open space provision = 1.81 ha/1,000 population Existing level of city centre civic space provision = 1.2 ha/1,000 population
12.31 Setting standards for the city centre is more complex than the rest of Leeds because of the importance of civic space and the requirement to consider the needs of a concentration of visitors and employees, as well as residents. The city centre contains more civic space than elsewhere in Leeds. On a simplistic conceptual level the city centre has separate needs for both civic space and green space; the former is needed to offer spaces for circulation and relaxation of visitors, shoppers and employees and for reasons of aesthetics in the break up of the townscape and the setting of buildings. The latter is needed for recreation and amenity of residents. However, in practice there will be considerable overlap with residents able to make some use of civic space and visitors and employees having need for green space.
12.32 Taking into account the proposed quantity standards for amenity and parks and gardens from chapters 4 and 5 of the study and the existing city centre civic space provision ratio, calculates at 2.65 hectares per 1,000 population of open space provision within the city centre. Using the 30,000 population estimate introduced earlier would indicate that by 2026 the area of open space in the city centre should be 79.5 Ha. This is an additional 51 hectares by 2026. This calculation is presented as a bench mark of the provision required to accord with the city’s proposed standards for those typologies.
This option does not consider constraints in the city centre and the potential availability of land. To increase the provision by 51 hectares would require 11% of the total area of the city centre.
Proposed city centre green space provision is 0.41 ha/1,000 population
12.33 The proposed provision level takes into account the proposed household growth across the city of 68,000 dwellings and assumes at least 10,000 of these dwellings will be provided in the city centre or 15% of the total growth.
The combined proposed quantity standards for amenity, parks and gardens and natural total 3.45 hectares per 1,000 population. The 68,000 new dwellings will create an estimated 235 hectares of new open space provision. The city centre is 3% of the Leeds urban area. Applying this proportion to the total estimated amount of new open space provision for the city centre equals 7.05 hectares.
12.34 This equates to 0.41 hectares per 1,000 based on a likely population in 2026 of 30,700 people and is 0.06 hectares per 1,000 population in excess of existing green space provision. The proposed increase would represent only 1.5% of the total city centre area providing a deliverable option considering the small plots coming forward for redevelopment during the period.
Although not all development plots would deliver on site green space due to their size, location or other individual site circumstances.
12.35 In developing a planning policy to deliver new city centre green space the council will need to consider the threshold between seeking on-site provision and collecting off-site contributions. Experience from elsewhere in the city has shown that small green spaces offer limited function and practicality.
They are often difficult and expensive to maintain, and because of their size are mistakenly ignored by potential users as private space or soft landscaping as part of the setting for adjacent buildings.
12.36 In association with the above open space provision for residential developments it is also proposed to ensure that civic space provision increases, considering the projected growth in city centre employees and visitors. Consultation on the City Centre Area Action Plan Preferred Options sought responses on provision of open space as part of all development proposals. The responses generally favour a site threshold of policy implementation of less than 0.5 hectares. The vast majority of respondents felt the size of open space to be provided on-site should be 20% of the site area.
12.37 These proposals would suggest a tightening of the existing UDP policy regarding civic space which implies wider application than currently and treats greater provision of open space, rather than civic space.
12.38 In progressing delivery of additional spaces and considering the compact nature of the defined city centre, a strategy is required to develop a network of pedestrianised streets, civic squares and amenity spaces that link to other blue and green infrastructure both within and surrounding the city centre.
The River Aire and Leeds and Liverpool Canal flow through the city centre and are over looked for their contribution towards open space. The inner city parks that surround the city centre are larger, multi-functional green spaces
and should also link into this network.
12.39 The provision of green and blue infrastructure in densely developed urban areas will become increasingly important in combating the effects of climate change. They create crucial breaks in sealed surfaces to assist with urban cooling, slowing storm water run off and reducing air pollution. Green roofs and street trees will also become more important in this regard.
Current Provision Quality
12.40 As table 12.4 below shows, the quality of city centre open spaces is generally high. The low score for the churchyards is a reflection of the current dilapidated condition of St John’s Churchyard. This site is undergoing refurbishment in 2011 and will bring about improvement at the lowest scoring open space site in the city centre.
12.41 Civic space is well maintained to accommodate high volumes of use by visitors. Some sites are worn and in need of refurbishment as and when opportunities arise, such as Victoria Gardens which was improved in early 2011 due to financial assistance from a high street retailer.
Table 12.4 Quality of City Centre Open Space
Setting a quality standard
12.42 The standard of 7 out of 10 (70%) for amenity space, parks and gardens and natural has already been proposed in the relevant chapter. There is no quality standard for churchyards, although as evidenced by the council’s capital works programme, their improvement for increased public use is a priority.
12.43 It is not proposed to adopt a formal quality standard for civic space as advised by the PPG17 Companion Guide. However, analysis of the quality data collected through the audit reveals that the existing quality of civic space in the city centre is currently ‘fair’, leaving some room for future improvement.
Current Provision Accessibility
12.44 As plan 12.2 shows, the distribution of open space north of the River Aire is generally even and widespread. Visually there appears to be a less open space south of the river. There is only one amenity site located south of the river in Leeds City Office Park. Access to a formal park is only possible by leaving the city centre and accessing an inner city park. As shown on plan 12.2, the proposed location of the city centre park provides an important opportunity to create additional provision in an area of both quantitative and accessibility deficit.
Setting an accessibility standard
12.45 The location of existing civic space is generally based around the historic location of large municipal buildings with open frontages and pedestrianised streets and other access routes. It is not proposed to create an additional accessibility standard for civic space. Other relevant city centre open space typologies have their own proposed accessibility standards which can apply in the city centre.
12.46 A city centre visioning conference in 2009, concluded that one of the three priorities to improve the city centre was provision of a city centre park. The Leeds City Centre Audit (2007) noted that 51% of people it surveyed thought the city centre did not have enough public open spaces.
12.47 The audit of city centre open spaces conducted for the purposes of this study recorded 50 open spaces of different types across the city centre. The existing open space provision based on the 2008 city centre population estimate is 1.81 hectares per 1,000 population. The current provision of city centre civic space calculates at 1.2 hectares per 1,000 population. It is proposed to introduce a standard for provision which combines parks and gardens, amenity space and natural provision at 0.41 hectares per 1,000 population in the city centre.
12.48 It is, therefore, recommended that the key priorities for the future provision of city centre open space should be addressed through the Leeds Development
Framework (LDF) and / or other delivery mechanisms, are:
• ensure that the LDF contains policies that protect city centre spaces from development;
• if the LDF proposes a strategy of accommodating significant levels of population growth in the city centre, plan for provision of green space (as per the proposed standards) in association with new residential development;
• prepare a strategy to develop a network of pedestrianised streets, civic squares and amenity spaces that link to other blue and green infrastructure both within and surrounding the city centre;
• plan for the future role of green and blue infrastructure in Leeds City Centre in combating the effects of climate change.
Chapter 13 Implementation Introduction
13.1 The PPG 17 study has identified several specific issues relating to the provision, quality and accessibility of open space, sports and recreation facilities across Leeds.