Historic Leeds civic buildings given green light for conversion to £62m student accommodation scheme

12 July 2021

Historic Leeds civic buildings given green light for conversion to £62m student accommodation scheme

Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel has given the green light to McLaren Property’s application to convert listed former council offices to a 17,490sqm student accommodation development with 474 beds valued at £62 million.

The new development repurposes the Leonardo Printworks, the Leonardo building and Thoresby House in the Civic Quarter of Leeds City Centre, as well as new accommodation on the former car park site. The buildings had been variously used as schools, printworks, a teaching college and most recently the Council offices.

The new student accommodation will be within 5-10 minutes walk of The University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett and Leeds Teaching Hospital. It will provide a premium live-study lifestyle in an area of high demand from students.

McLaren Property, architects Cartwright Pickard and heritage consultant ID Planning worked closely with Leeds City Council to revisit previous commercial proposals for the site and to improve the retention of historic features. Leonardo Printworks and Thorseby House are Grade II listed Victorian buildings.

Re-purposing of the listed elements as well re-use of the modern building structure substantially reduces the embodied carbon of the new development. Operational carbon emissions are minimised through connection to the city council’s low-carbon district heating system, as well as through a thermally efficient fabric and the use of rooftop photovoltaic panels.

Construction is due to start in August 2021 and to complete by August 2023 in time for the 2023/2024 academic year.

Historic Leeds civic buildings given green light for conversion to £62m student accommodation scheme
“It is really positive to see McLaren Property’s sensitive reuse of the council’s Leonardo and Thoresby buildings as new accommodation for students in Leeds City Centre. The redevelopment will bring additional footfall into our city centre which will help boost our post covid recovery that is already enhanced by proposals from the British Library, National Infrastructure Bank and the Bank of England all looking to locate into our city centre. I look forward to seeing Mclaren’s development take shape and complete in 2023."

Martin Farrington
Leeds City Council’s Director of City Development

“There was a great meeting of minds on this project, especially given the complexity of the listed buildings and that it is McLaren’s first student project in Leeds. From a standing start in December when we first began looking at the site it has taken just seven months to get to a minded to grant in July.”

Tom Gilman
McLaren Property’s Regional Managing Director