Kirkstall Forge

Overview

Kirkstall Forge is a pioneering new place to live and work. It’s where 800 years of history meets 57 acres of new opportunities. As the oldest continually industrialised site in the UK, its manufacturing heritage goes back to the 12th Century.

Its rich heritage includes metal works, iron production and engineering alongside the River Aire. And once the canal and railway arrived, Kirkstall Forge became a key site in the industrial revolution.

We’ve restored the site’s important industrial archaeology, and made it a key part of our development plans. Now, historic Kirkstall Forge is ready to be fired with new purpose and ambition. A place of pride, vitality and new possibilities.

We want to bring the lifeblood back to Kirkstall Forge. And this historical legacy is a huge part of that. Helping us recreate the principles and values that have sustained Yorkshire villages for centuries: a sense of community, local pride, industriousness and a forthright attitude.

To create this vibrant community, we’re working on:

  • 1,050 new homes
  • 300,000 sq ft of office space
  • 100,000 sq ft of leisure and retail
  • A railway station
  • A primary school
  • Bars, restaurant and community facilities
  • Riverside walks, woodland trails and parks

The CEG way: Leading by Example

We were inspired by the opportunity Kirkstall Forge offered and we worked hard for over a decade to realise our vision

We knew the first time we saw Kirkstall Forge that it could be something great. But it’s been a challenge. We’ve navigated the choppy waters of the recession. We’ve jumped through ever-moving hoops of policy change to redevelop a former heavy manufacturing site on the riverside into a new community. Many didn’t believe a train station was possible but we persuaded them and we’re just about to open the first new railway station in West Yorkshire for decades, connecting the site to Leeds City Centre in just minutes. Through it all we’ve stayed the course.

It’s testament to our tenacity. We have the drive to deliver. We stand by our promises. 

We’ve created lifelong partnerships with key stakeholders and residents, inspiring them to see the potential in Kirkstall Forge. And we’re now on the cusp of creating something very special. Bringing to life a connected community for business, residents and visitors. A place to live, work, thrive and prosper, close to the city but offering the tranquillity of a wooded, riverside glen. This is not just a unique vision. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.

We’ve worked collaboratively with Councillors, the local MP, resident’s associations and community groups. And we still play a key role in the local community. We meet regularly with the community and stakeholder liaison group, and you’ll find us every year at the Kirkstall Festival. We’re recognised as an organisation bringing something visionary to the area, with exciting opportunities. Kirkstall Forge is not only unique to Leeds, but sets a benchmark for the rest of the UK.

Key challenges

Kirkstall Forge has been one of our toughest and most rewarding projects we’ve embarked on to date.

Originally a major employment site, the local community was concerned about losing jobs, more traffic and the historic identity of the area. We worked hard to overcome these challenges, showing them that a sustainable new village would bring a wealth of opportunities to the area. A new railway station would overcome local transport issues. And there would be more employment opportunities in high quality new offices, a primary school and in the shops and services on the site.

Allies and advocates have been forged from residents and stakeholders as they recognised the true potential of Kirkstall Forge. The Kirkstall Forge development is a story of collaboration. We have worked closely with Leeds City Council to design a scheme that creates a new benchmark for development in the city and also ensures delivery by looking at innovative new ways to fund key infrastructure – including roads and the railway station.

It was difficult, but we worked to strengthen our relationships. Which ultimately helped us deliver a better scheme.

Key achievements

We have secured the coveted Placemaking Award for the best UK mixed-use development. The judges (world leading architects, planners and urban designers, English Heritage and the Prince’s Regeneration Trust) recognised the scheme’s scale, ambition, partnership and environmental values.

The inspirational design and strong relationships we have built helped us secure planning permission for a thriving mixed community of more than 1,000 family homes, 420,000 sq ft of office space, a new railway station, shops, restaurants, a school, gym, crèche and other leisure facilities. We partnered with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the MP Rachel Reeves and Leeds City Council. They helped us convince the Department for Transport to support a new railway station on the site – and unlock more than £10million in funding as part of the West Yorkshire rail growth strategy.

The official opening of the new Kirkstall Forge station was held on Monday 28th June 2016 with representatives from Leeds City Council, the Department for Transport, the Leeds Enterprise Partnership and other local businesses in attendance. The station has proved to be vital catalyst in kick-starting the £400million Kirkstall Forge development. With sustainable travel choices, fantastic new amenities and a stunning riverside location, Kirkstall Forge will undoubtedly be one of the most sought-after destinations in the north for both businesses and residents. The station links the site directly to Leeds City Centre and just minutes and offers hundreds of free car parking spaces and fully-accessible platforms with lifts as well as staircases.

We are now on site constructing the first 110,000ft, seven-storey Grade A office building which will complete in Autumn, becoming headquarters to Zenith, the UK’s leading independent leasing, fleet management and vehicle outsourcing business. CEG will also open a new office on the ground floor.

The reserved matters planning application for the first phase of residential development will be submitted before the end of 2016 and we aim to be delivering new homes, as well as a new school, leisure and retail facilities on the site in the coming months.

Kirkstall Forge Old signageKirkstall Forge Old signage

Kirkstall Forge New train stationKirkstall Forge New train station

Key benefits

This is the most ambitious project underway in the North of England. It will create jobs, training and apprenticeship opportunities during the build. And make space for 2,400 people to work permanently in the office, leisure and retail facilities. Within the next decade, almost 10,000 people will be able to live and work in Kirkstall Forge.

We’ll work with Leeds City Council, the Leeds College of Building and our principal contractor to create an innovative vocational training programme. Teenagers and adults will have the opportunity to work alongside our builders, architects and engineers. Schools will be able to visit our onsite skills village. And with our apprenticeship opportunities, we’ll help create Leeds’ future architects, bricklayers, civil engineers, joiners, plumbers, electricians and developers. Through site visits, curriculum projects, hands-on work experience and mentoring.

As well as delivering a new community with all the education, health, retail, leisure, employment and recreation opportunities that brings, Kirkstall Forge will also bring economic revival. Not only to a site with an 800 year history, but to the wider region.

At CEG, we don’t just build bricks and mortar. We build communities.

Testimonials

Kirkstall Forge is promoted by Leeds City Council as a best practice example of how to engage stakeholders and the community in future development proposals. Here’s what people have to say:

MP for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves:
“The Kirkstall Forge development brings houses, jobs and investment to this great site on the River Aire and the first new train station in Leeds since 1988. Kirkstall Forge is unique; the quality of the on-site amenities, combined with its stunning riverside and woodland location, will undoubtedly make it one of the most sought-after destinations in the north for businesses and residents. Kirkstall Forge is set to stimulate the local economy and will ultimately be a catalyst for major regeneration, much-needed housing delivery and job creation on a brownfield site.”

Kirkstall Councillor, Lucinda Yeadon:
“A long campaign to bring a station to the area has finally paid off, enabling the Kirkstall valley area to reap the benefits of a direct rail link to the centre of Leeds. Along with many others in the community, I am looking forward to this impressive scheme coming to fruition.”

Stephen Rennie, Chair of the Hawksworth Wood Community Association:
“Hawksworth Wood Community Association welcomes the development of the Kirkstall Forge site. The forge workings on the site date back at least to the founding of the Kirkstall Abbey and our estate was built largely to house the workforce of the former Forge works and its associated heavy industry. So, the site and its uses are of great importance to us. We felt very keenly the loss of job opportunities as the Forge shrank and died.

“The new development will bring the site back to life and restore some measure of confidence to economic growth in the area. A substantial new population will bring jobs and infrastructure this part of Leeds currently lacks. We will all benefit from that. Public access will be improved and it is looking likely that as part of the S106, there will be some benefit to this impoverished estate.

“Site design has developed with the full knowledge of local people throughout. The various changes in proposed layout, housing mix, and commercial provision have been communicated very effectively at a number of levels. There have been regular meetings with local people, a good level of documentation for local newsletters and a presence at local planning and festival events.

“We are looking forward to welcoming new neighbours on the Kirkstall Forge site, and we are confident at as the project grows and develops, we will be kept in the loop as effectively as we have been to date.”

Leeds City Council executive board member for the economy and development, Councillor Richard Lewis
“The re-development of the forge site is hugely important to the city and that’s why the council has pulled out all the stops to get things moving. The headline figures of 1,000 new homes and 2,400 new jobs are a major boost to the city, but only tell part of the tale. This is a brownfield site with a long industrial heritage which will have a rail link to the city centre and which is next to the A65, but is at the same time a very attractive green space with the river running through it. It has a huge potential as a great place to live and work and to regenerate the wider Kirkstall area.”

Jon Kenny, Development Director at CEG:
“Kirkstall Forge has been built around established principles that can make a development become much more than a collection of buildings, spaces and amenities. Principles that encourage people to interact, form connections and establish a location that a community can take pride in.”

James Barton – Skill Mill Co-Ordinator:
“The Skill Mill have been working at Kirkstall Forge since the start of this year. This partnership has enabled the young people on our project to gain valuable work experience at a major development in Leeds. We have carried out a number of different tasks on site and the young people have had the opportunity to learn.”

CEG

Property by example

We believe in leading by example. We’re proud of our projects, and think they’re the best way to show just what we’re capable of, read through our case studies to find out more.