The first spade has gone into the ground at Latimer’s flagship development on Kirkstall Road in Leeds, with a number of key local stakeholders from Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority attending a ceremony to officially mark the start of work.

Martin Farrington, director of city development at Leeds City Council, Adam Brannen, head of regeneration at Leeds City Council and Melanie Corcoran, director of delivery at West Yorkshire Combined Authority, were present for the ceremony at the site of the £350m development.

The development on Kirkstall Road is being delivered by Latimer, the development arm of Clarion Housing Group, the UK’s largest housing association.

Once complete, it will create a new district on the banks of River Aire, providing 1,792 homes, including 355 student rooms and over 4,000 square metres of commercial space. The development will set a new benchmark for the provision of affordable homes in Leeds, with over 500 of the properties to be available on affordable tenures including social rent and shared ownership.

The Latimer scheme at Kirkstall Road will also deliver 2.2 hectares of green infrastructure including a new square, a riverside park and reinstatement of an existing bridge over the river – actively seeking to promote alternative modes of travel, encouraging walking, cycling and the use of public transport.

Richard Cook, group development director at Latimer said: “It has been fantastic to finally mark the start of work at what is set to be a game-changing regeneration of the Kirkstall Road corridor and the land alongside the River Aire.

“The area has seen little in the way of regeneration in the last 20 years and this scheme will give a new lease of life to Kirkstall Road and Leeds as a whole, providing a high-quality mixed use, tenure blind, sustainable community that will attract residents, businesses and visitors.”

The development is set to offer a range of one-bed, two-bed and three-bed homes and planning has been granted for 259 parking spaces to be delivered as part of the project. 50 per cent of these will have electric vehicle charging points fully installed and the remainder will have the necessary infrastructure in place to facilitate further electric vehicle charging points should demand require.

Martin Farrington, director of city development at Leeds City Council, said: “This marks the start of a major mixed-use investment in a long-vacant brownfield site that will kick-start the regeneration of the Kirkstall Riverside corridor, and it strongly aligns with our plans to meet the housing needs of all our residents and communities.

“As new developers in the city Latimer and Clarion Housing Group have brought a very welcome collaborative approach and ambition, which will see the delivery of over 500 affordable homes on this site. I look forward to seeing this project progress and to continuing our positive relationship on this and future schemes.”

As the development arm of Clarion Housing Group, Latimer is committed to building homes for all tenures and reinvests any surplus back into the organisation to support its social mission. In 2020/21 Latimer built a record 2,136 homes – 90 per cent of which were affordable.

Latimer is also working with Leeds City Council and Leeds-based homelessness charity St George’s Crypt to provide short term homes on the site. 10 modular units, which include one management office, have been constructed on site and are being managed 24-hours a day by St George’s Crypt.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire and Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said: “Schemes like this are vital to address the housing shortage across West Yorkshire with affordable and sustainable homes.

“Everyone deserves a good, secure home and we will continue to develop brownfield land across the region and regenerate places like Kirkstall to bring new jobs into the region.

“This project will also support the incredible work of St George’s Crypt and play a small part in providing much needed help to those struggling with homelessness.”

Following the commencement of enabling works at the site, the main works will commence next summer, with the first homes projected to go on sale in 2024 and the first residents moving in in 2025.