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The rise of Leeds: The UK's vibrant hub of culture 28 March 2017

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The Northern city of Leeds has just been ranked as the best place in the UK for culture by The Times, but what are the reasons behind this title?

The best place in the UK for culture, a leading Fintech city and home to the world’s best shopping centre. And this isn’t London we’re talking about.

Over the past decade, the West Yorkshire city of Leeds has not only moved from strength to strength but it is now being recognised as a city of culture across the globe. Earlier this month the Northern Powerhouse city was titled the best place in the UK for culture by The Times, proudly ranking ahead of cities like London, Birmingham and the UK’s official City of Culture - Hull.

With support from the likes of Yorkshire Bank, Yorkshire Building Society and Bruntwood, Leeds is preparing to officially present its case to an international panel of judges in a bid for the city to be crowned the ‘European Capital of Culture 2023’. But what exactly is it that makes the Yorkshire city so brilliantly cultural? Here we take a look.

A premier shopping location

With Leeds Trinity shopping centre and Victoria Gate both opening their doors in the past four years, the city has very quickly become a major shopping destination. Following the launch of the Victoria Gate shopping centre just before Christmas, Leeds shot up to third position in the Javelin UK retail rankings, being recognised as the largest premium retail and leisure venue in Northern England.

In addition to this, Victoria Gate has just been awarded the world’s Best Shopping Centre at the international MIPIM Awards, a property market event that took place in Cannes earlier this month.

Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake said the award was “an exciting acknowledgement”. She commented: “Victoria Gate, anchored by John Lewis, is a fantastic new addition to Leeds and the retail and leisure offer in the North of England.”

Arts hotspots

When it comes to the arts, the city has so much to offer. Last year, the annual Leeds International Film Festival - the largest film festival outside of London - celebrated its 30th anniversary with an exciting programme of over 300 screenings at 30 venues.

The city also boasts Opera North, Northern Ballet and the West Yorkshire Playhouse, which takes its shows to the West End. The Henry Moore Institute is known for its variety of art exhibitions, Chapel Allerton (located just out of the city centre) has its own art festival, and in nearby Wakefield you will find the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Located just across the road from Victoria Gate, the West Yorkshire Playhouse has announced plans for a £13.6 million redevelopment scheme. The plans will include the creation of a third performance space that focuses on artist development as well as a new entrance hall.

So far, the development has seen funding commitment from both Leeds City Council and Arts Council England. On top of this, the Yorkshire-based Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation has also made a substantial donation to the fundraising target. Along with developments for Leeds City College and Leeds College of Music already underway, it is hoped that the West Yorkshire Playhouse development will help create a stronger visual identity of the area - known as Quarry Hill - as a cultural quarter.

On top of this, for the first time this year, Leeds will welcome its first ever international cultural festival, taking place from April 22nd-30th. The Leeds International Festival (LIF) will showcase the best of what the city has to offer with a focus on music, moving image and technology.

Business and developments

Craig Burrow, director of Bruntwood Leeds, commented: "It’s fantastic to see Leeds named as the best place to live in the UK for culture. From its International Festival to Light Night Leeds, as well as its cultural buildings, there is lots of great culture to be explored in the city.

“To become European Capital of Culture 2023 would be an amazing opportunity - this could be transformational for Leeds and I’m delighted that we are supporting the bid as a partner. We’re going to be involved in a number of great activities organised by Leeds to promote the bid and we can’t wait for people to see what we’ve got in store for them."

With such a desirable cultural scene, it is not surprising that businesses and professionals across the UK are relocating their offices to Leeds. Not only do companies and organisations in the city have a cultural hub on their doorsteps, but Leeds also offers great access to commercial property and the ability to choose from a highly skilled pool of graduates each year.

Development across the region is showing no signs of slowing anytime soon, with Bruntwood playing a part in this growth. Platform and 3 Sovereign Square are among these developments, helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to connect in this cultural hub.

Are you interested in moving your business to Leeds? Contact us today.

Leeds skyline
Leeds skyline