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A birds eye image of the Corn Exchange an new public realm work going on outside it


World-famous Leeds landmark gets smart new surroundings

A stylish new look for one of the most famous spots in Leeds city centre will be officially unveiled at a fun-packed celebration event taking place this weekend.

The area around Leeds Corn Exchange has been transformed by both a public realm scheme and a major package of Connecting Leeds highways improvements, with the latter forming part of the £173.5m Leeds Public Transport Investment Programme (LPTIP).

Leeds City Council and its partners have spent the last year creating a world-class piece of pedestrianised open space in front of the Corn Exchange, acting as the perfect complement to the Grade I listed landmark. The building’s owner, Rushbond plc, has played a key role in this public realm scheme, both as a design partner and co-funder.

The LPTIP highways work has seen new bus, cycle and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure being put in place in the area around the Corn Exchange and across the wider city centre – further delivering on the ongoing implementation of the council’s Our Spaces strategy.

Both schemes – which, together with other public realm initiatives in Meadow Lane, Cookridge Street and Greek Street, underline the council’s commitment to giving Leeds a greener, better connected and more inclusive city centre – are now poised for completion.

And this Saturday, May 14, that double milestone will be marked in style with a free day of entertainment and activities for all the family at the Corn Exchange, which was built in the 19th century and is today a top shopping destination.

Nearly 1,750 square metres of public realm has been created outside the Corn Exchange by upgrading two existing pedestrian areas and removing the stretch of Call Lane that runs between New Market Street and Crown Street.

New seating, trees and sandstone paving are among the design features contributing to the welcoming nature of an accessible space that can be enjoyed day-to-day by shoppers, workers, local residents and visitors alike.

An integrated cycleway runs east-west adjacent to this plaza-style area, which will also serve as an ideal location for the kind of pop-up events and gatherings that add to the vibrancy of life in Leeds.

The highways improvements around the Corn Exchange have been led by the council’s Connecting Leeds team and have focused on prioritising buses, pedestrians and cyclists while aiming to reduce congestion in the city centre.

Wider pavements, safer cycleways, enhanced bus priority measures and new facilities for bus users now all form part of the streetscape in an area known as the Corn Exchange Gateway, which includes roads such as Call Lane, Bridge End, Lower Briggate, New Market Street, Kirkgate and Duncan Street as well as sections of Boar Lane and Vicar Lane.

The Corn Exchange Gateway work – and other initiatives such as the construction of Aire Park and the general traffic-free overhaul of City Square – will support the council’s net zero ambitions and its vision of Leeds as a place where people don’t need a car to get around.

The transformation of the Corn Exchange area also complements and connects with regeneration efforts in nearby Kirkgate. Projects here include the recently-completed restoration by Rushbond of the historic First White Cloth Hall building and the conservation and reuse of other properties as part of the Lower Kirkgate Townscape Heritage Initiative.

Work at Meadow Lane, meanwhile, has seen the narrowing of the highway, the removal of the old Hunslet Lane surface car park and the creation of new green space as part of the flagship Aire Park project. New-look pedestrianised spaces have also been created on Cookridge Street and Greek Street, helping to make the city centre an even more attractive place to visit and live.