Work has begun on the latest phase of a significant regeneration initiative aimed at revitalising one of Leeds city centre’s most historic streets, New Briggate High Street. The New Briggate High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) programme, a partnership between Leeds City Council and Historic England, is providing grant aid for the repair and refurbishment of a row of shops and commercial units across from Leeds Grand Theatre.

The extensive refurbishment work will include the installation of timber sash windows and the restoration of traditional design elements to the shopfronts. The anticipated completion time for this phase is five months. This follows the successful progress made in previous HAZ-funded improvements to New Briggate, such as the restoration of the elegant terrazzo paving at the entrance to the Grand Arcade.

The HAZ project is part of a broader transformation plan for the area, aiming to create an ideal environment for local businesses to thrive. Key components of this transformation include the pedestrianisation of the lower end of New Briggate, providing a traffic-free space adorned with trees, benches, ‘street cafe’ seating, and an enhanced entrance to the historic St John’s churchyard. Additionally, the council will deliver other enhancements to New Briggate’s infrastructure, including wider pavements and new cycling facilities. Public realm improvements are also planned for Merrion Street, an essential part of the city centre’s nightlife, as well as the completion of Opera North’s £18 million redevelopment project on New Briggate and Harrison Street.

Councillor Helen Hayden, executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure at Leeds City Council, expressed excitement about the improvement work, stating, “The finished results will make New Briggate an even more attractive place to live, shop, and spend time. The Heritage Action Zone program demonstrates the council’s transformational impact on beloved streets. By creating well-connected and people-friendly spaces, we are shaping an environment that will attract investment, bringing new jobs, homes, and opportunities for all.”

The HAZ’s primary objective is to regenerate New Briggate using government-funded grants for building and public space improvements. The ongoing work on the shops and commercial units employs traditional materials and the latest conservation methods, ensuring that the renovated buildings harmonise with landmarks like the Grand Arcade and St John’s Church. Similar improvements to other properties on New Briggate are also in the pipeline, thanks to HAZ funding.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, executive member for economy, culture, and education, emphasised the council’s commitment to supporting high streets and businesses while celebrating Leeds’s rich heritage. He said, “The work on New Briggate combines those two ideas perfectly, with improvements designed to attract shoppers and visitors while maintaining the area’s storied past.”

One of the visible outcomes of the program so far is the restoration of the Grade II-listed Grand Arcade’s terrazzo pavement entrance, which had shown significant signs of wear and tear. The damaged and cracked paving has been replaced with a flawless design, thanks to funding from a HAZ grant awarded to Grand Arcade owner ATC Properties. Douglas West, property director at ATC Properties, expressed delight at the collaboration with Leeds City Council, stating, “For a local business such as ourselves, [the improvements] represent exactly the sort of support that is welcome and valued.”

Bryan Davies, who leads the New Briggate High Street Heritage Action Zone for Historic England, commended the ongoing work and expressed hopes that the refurbishments would generate new economic opportunities for residents and neighbouring businesses on New Briggate.

Recent enhancements to New Briggate’s infrastructure were made possible by permanently rerouting buses to Vicar Lane as part of the £173.5 million Leeds Public Transport Investment Programme. The renovation work on Merrion Street marked the completion of a series of improvements by the council to enhance leading night-time economy destinations in the city centre over the past decade, including pedestrianisation and remodelling of areas such as Greek Street, Lower Briggate, and Call Lane.