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Innovation

Bruntwood’s plan to play a major role in the innovation of Leeds

Speaking to The Yorkshire PostRob Valentine director of Bruntwood Works in Yorkshire, said there were a number of ‘really significant opportunities’ in the city at the time and he was talking to the Leeds City Council, the universities and other developers about building new space for that sector.

“I think it’s recognized that Leeds is a little bit behind the curve when you compare it to Manchester in terms of space innovation, but it sees the opportunity,” he said.

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“Because it doesn’t have that offer at the moment, it’s probably not attracting some of the inward investment it could do.”

Rob Valentine, director of Bruntwood Works in Yorkshire.

It is hoped that the building of two new hospitals in the center of Leeds will be the catalyst for a new innovation district in the city. Rather than focused on just one area, the innovation sites will be spread across the city center.

Mr Valentine said: “We talk about a swathe, an arc of innovation across the city, and that’s probably the right approach because there’s no one obvious place in which to deliver it.

“We’ve been working with the city to define that and now we need to get into delivering. We really want to be that strategic developer, that 100-year investor that helps the city to develop that offer. ”

Mr Valentine said new laboratories would have to be built to meet demand. “We know there is a massive demand for wet labs across the UK and increasingly so in regional cities aligned to universities and hospitals.”

Bruntwood is currently developing West Village on Lisbon Street in Leeds after purchasing the 14-storey Castle House last year, which sits adjacent to its West One building and 100 Wellington Street.

Bruntwood Works, the group’s workspace, retail and leisure arm, is bringing the three buildings together as part of its £ 50m Pioneer program, which aims to create clusters of innovative, like-minded businesses within its regions.

The project will connect the buildings through one central courtyard, and blend workspace with independent retail and hospitality. It will mark Bruntwood Works’ first Pioneer project in Leeds.

“I think we could start to shape the innovation space from there,” Mr Valentine said.

He added: “We need to define where the labs can be delivered and start delivering. There are a number of development sites coming forward and we’re having a good look at those. We’re looking for long-term strategic opportunities. ”

Bruntwood’s aim is to add 100,000 sq ft to its Leeds portfolio year-on-year as well as invest in its existing buildings.

Mr Valentine said: “There’s enough space in the city center, without a doubt, but there’s not a lot on the market at the moment.

“We’re always looking to identify what comes next. It will be a mix of recycling buildings and significant amounts of new build too. ”

Take-up of office space in Leeds city center fell by 27 per cent in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021 but Mr Valentine said occupancy at its buildings had ‘held up well’. “I’ve every confidence the city will get back to where it was and beyond, he added.”

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