Following the recent announcement that HS2 would not be coming to Sheffield and Leeds after all, some might have assumed that demand for crane hire in Yorkshire would drop, with the region becoming an apparent backwater away from a high-speed spine running from London to Manchester via Birmingham.

However, the latest developments and proposals suggest this is not the case at all - and not just because of the promise of a new tram system in Leeds to match the one Sheffield established 30 years ago.

The latest developments concern planned major new property developments either side of the River Aire, just west of Leeds station and south of the river in Holbeck, an area rebranded the ‘South Bank’ as part of a major regeneration project.

A key proposed development in the area is the Whitehall Riverside scheme, which Town Centre Securities (TCS) and Glenbrook have joined forces to propose.

 If it goes ahead, a site just three minutes walk from the station will feature two new office buildings providing 215,000 sq ft of office space, a 108-key hotel, a multi-storey car park, plus two apartment towers of 18 and 15 storeys respectively, providing 532 new homes.

TCS has already developed adjacent land with the No.1 Whitehall Riverside offices, Whitehall Riverside apartments and a Premier Inn hotel.

Development director at TCS Craig Burrow commented: “We are excited to be bringing the new Whitehall Riverside masterplan forward and are confident that the proposed mixed use approach will unlock the full potential of this incredible site.” 

Another proposed development in the area, reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, will need even taller cranes to build if it gets the green light, as it involves 488 apartments housed in towers of 26 and 31 storeys respectively.

However, the largest development in this area of the city to have a planning application submitted this month came from developers Westrock and Platform. Their proposal is for a ten-building development on Sweet Street in Holbeck, which will include six residential blocks containing a total of 1,235 flats, with these being between ten and 27 storeys in height.

The other four buildings will include shops, offices and a new ‘clubhouse’, which will involve the restoration of a closed pub.

If all these planned developments suggest great optimism about the future for Leeds as a boom town for city centre living, this would be an accurate assessment.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post earlier this month, property specialist Jonathan Morgan of Linley and Simpson with Morgans said that since the end of lockdown, the level of demand for rental property in central Leeds “has taken off like never before”.

"It is now highly likely that we will look back on the post-lockdown years as being the real boom years for city living in Leeds,” he predicted.

Should this upbeat outlook turn out to be justified, Leeds will swiftly shake off any gloom arising from the HS2 decision, perhaps benefit from the extra transport access to and from the city centre provided by the new tram system, and keep the construction sector busy for many years to come.