Located on a former engineering site with an industrial heritage going back to the 12th Century, Kirkstall Forge is one of the most ambitious projects currently underway in northern England aiming to create not just physical spaces but an entire sustainable community with almost 10,000 people living and working on site within the next decade. CEG have already overseen £40 million works in the area including flood defence works, decontamination of the site, infrastructure, office space and the first new railway station in West Yorkshire for decades, connecting the site to Leeds City Station in minutes.
There were two speakers at the event; Paul Richardson, Investment Manager at CEG and Gareth Chambers from Pierre Angulaire who provided overall project management services for the scheme. Gareth has been involved in the Kirkstall Forge project for over 10 years and his passion and ambitions for the area were plain to see. It is clear that there has been an emphasis on creating a community from the start with employees based at Number One Kirkstall Forge, the first commercial space in the scheme, benefitting from planned social activities, fitness initiatives such as yoga and running sessions, modern and light spaces to work and cycle schemes to name a few.
As well as creating a sustainable community, the scheme also creates jobs, training and apprenticeship opportunities throughout the build processes through their Forging Futures Campus programme in partnership with I Consult Yorkshire, Leeds College of Building, EN:Able Futures and Leeds City Council. The programme provides vocational training, site visits and work experience for local people, students and young people not in education, employment or training and has recently welcomed the first 11 recruits to a two year apprenticeship programme. More about the Forging Futures programme here.
In addition to outlining challenges and successes to date, the speakers also gave an overview of developments yet to come including the '2 Kirkstall Forge' office block, a school, leisure facilities and prototype houses that the design team will live in temporarily to roadtest – a great idea! The presenters did make an interesting point about the need to balance the ambitions of the scheme with the need to attract businesses and residents to the area in the early stages; for instance allowing the first houses to have space for cars weighed up against the drive towards active and more sustainable travel options. However, as Gareth pointed out, these things are a step change and it is clear from the employees at Number One Kirkstall Forge, that they are already seeing positive changes in their working patterns and work life balance as a result.
CEG showed a number of videos at the event and these can be viewed at the links below;
Constructing Excellence Yorkshire and Humber would like to thank Laura Kenny and Aisling Ramshaw from CEG for all their help in organising the event and they look forward to a repeat visit soon!
Constructing Excellence in Yorkshire and Humber (CEYH) is the regional partner to national Constructing Excellence, the single organisation charged with driving the change agenda in construction, housing and regeneration. CEYH is run by the Centre for Knowledge Exchange based at the School of Built Environment and Engineering at Leeds Beckett University. The network organises a wide variety of seminars, workshops, conferences and networking events throughout the year designed to share best practice, promote positive change and improve cross sector collaboration bringing together the industry for the benefit of all. Events are open to students, staff and the wider built environment industry.