Leeds’ newest district SOYO, or SOuth of YOrk road, will be the city’s new cultural district. The attention of property investors has been drawn to this area of Leeds city centre, as the area has undergone vast redevelopment with the construction of Leeds’ newest luxury shopping centre Victoria Gate, the home of John Lewis. The district will be built adjacent to West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds College of Music, BBC studios, Northern Ballet Head Quarters and is set to become a key development in the regeneration of Leeds City Centre.
Leeds’ New Cultural Quarter
The SOYO proposal includes 106,000sq ft of offices, 35,000sq ft leisure, in excess of 700 residential units, a multi-storey car park, 7,500sq ft retail facilities, a medical centre and a series of vibrant public squares. This type of redevelopment is contributing to long-term economic growth in this area of the city centre and is essential for property investors to be aware of when considering capital growth potential of the property.
West Yorkshire Playhouse
The West Yorkshire Playhouse, which opened in 1990 is set to have a £14 million facelift. Redevelopment will include a brand-new entrance, studio and improvements to the buildings interiors for the thousands of visitors they host every year to enjoy. The Playhouse is a big pull for tourists for the city and was shortlisted for a top tourism award in the Arts & Culture category as part of the prestigious Welcome To Yorkshire White Rose Awards.
The city’s transport system is well positioned for access in and out of the SOYO district. Tenants will have a 6-minute walk to the bus station and 10-minute walk to the train station. Generally, Leeds is one of the most well-connected cities in the UK with exceptional rail, air and road links. London is just two hours away by train and one hour by air. Major roadways including the A1, M1 and M62 are in the vicinity, bringing drivers right into the city centre.
Within the immediate vicinity of the development is the completed Victoria Gate, a new £165 million luxury shopping centre which is also home to the largest John Lewis store outside of London. The true value of Victoria Gate has been revealed as it is expected to attract over £82.5m of inward investment to Yorkshire during its first 10 years. It’s no surprise then that the economy of Leeds ‘grew faster’ than London since Northern Powerhouse was launched back in 2014.
Investment into the Education Sector
A key growth area for development in Leeds is in the education sector. The city is already served by three universities and has the fourth biggest population of students in the UK. The crane survey recorded four new starts in 2017 adding over half a million sq. ft into the development pipeline. This included Leeds City College’s Quarry Hill campus and developments at both the University of Leeds and Leeds College of Building.
From Students to Young Professionals
Rental potential and longer-term capital growth is strong as more graduates are staying in the city to work in its growing financial, technology, professional services sectors. Three major universities support a thriving student population who are encouraged to stay in the region by more affordable house prices than in the South East ensuring high rental demand and healthy yields for landlords. House price growth in Leeds was at the highest in the UK, with average growth of 5.7% in 2017.
Leeds is the second largest financial city after London and has an economy worth £64.6 billion. There are over 30 national and international banks in the city, with First Direct and Yorkshire Bank basing their headquarters there. The city is seeking to establish itself as a strong Northern centre for financial services. A report from law firm Irwin Mitchell said Leeds has expanded its financial sector substantially in recent years, with the city’s total output from finance and insurance increasing by 40 per cent between 2012 and 2015.