Holbeck Urban Village Named Best Neighbourhood

Holbeck Urban Village in Leeds has been crowned as the UK and Ireland’s best neighbourhood at the 2015 Urbanism Awards. It beat off strong competition from regenerated housing estate Devonport in Plymouth and picturesque resort Broughty Ferry in Dundee.

The award is one of five given out annually by built-environment network The Academy of Urbanism to recognise the best, most enduring or most improved urban environments. Voted on by its members, who include leading architects, planners and developers, each award covers a number of social, economic and environmental factors, including good governance and commercial success.

The urban village, located to the south of the city centre, picked up the award for its success in creating and sustaining a neighbourhood of almost 400 businesses since 1999. This has been done in spite of considerable setbacks caused by the recession.

Home to creative and digital enterprises, Holbeck Urban Village caught the judges attention with its innovative re-use of historic buildings. Key to the result swinging in Holbeck’s favour is the way in which the local estate manager, Creative Space Management, has been flexible with its plans over time. According to the Academy, this has allowed the neighbourhood to grow through the recession by adapting when circumstances have changed.

Richard Guise, lead assessor for award, said: “Holbeck shows that a thriving creative community can be established in an inner area that was almost totally vacant. New studio-based businesses are attracted by its sense of place and the flexible spaces provided by the well-conserved industrial heritage.”

Visiting during July, the Academy was also impressed by the way in which the neighbourhood has been set-up to encourage collaboration between local companies through the provision of cafes and restaurants.

Looking to the future, the Academy also praised site manager Creative Space Management for sewing the seeds for a larger number of residents to move in. “The area is becoming further enriched by a growing residential population and the potential of improved links with the city,” Guise added.

The Academy runs the urbanism awards to help promote and learn from great places. Stephen Gallagher, communications manager at the Academy, said: “This result is hopefully the start of a strong relationship whereby other neighbourhoods across the UK, Ireland and further afield can learn from the work going on in Holbeck Urban Village. In turn, the neighbourhood can also look to pick up lessons from our other award winners.”

This year, the Academy says that it has seen the emergence of collaboration and ‘co-production’ as a key ingredient in the delivery of successful places. Drawing on this year’s other winners, it says that partnerships like those demonstrated in Holbeck Urban Village are essential in creating a place that can compete at a high level, attract investment and retain people.

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