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Climate Innovation District, Leeds - Citu Group Developments Ltd

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Climate Innovation District

Who is the developer/client of the project?


Citu Group Developments Ltd



Describe the context of this project and the point it has reached in its development in 250 words max. When is the project expected to complete? Please upload a masterplan drawing that best describes the project in its location

The Climate Innovation District represents a pioneering new approach to delivering sustainable places in the UK. The district spans both banks of the River Aire in the east of Leeds city centre and will comprise family houses, apartments, ‘The Place’ a large zero carbon office building and centre for excellence in tackling climate change, retail spaces, a primary school, a small care home, and a community café.

The district is designed to reduce carbon emissions at every stage. Buildings are timber framed, manufactured in Citu’s onsite factory, to reduce embodied carbon. Passivhaus principles have been used to create homes with excellent insulation, triple glazed windows and MVHR systems that require over ten times less heating than an average UK home. The whole development is raised by several meters to create a car-free landscape perfect for pedestrians and cyclists, free from traffic pollution.

The first section of the development is now complete, which consists of sixty-six townhouses set in a car-free landscape of greenery by the river. Also complete is ‘The Place’, the first zero-carbon office in Yorkshire. A new pedestrian bridge now connects the two banks together, and a riverside park has been created which now hosts a pop-up bar which has brought this space to life. Building on phase II on the south bank is now underway, with new townhouses going up to for occupation later in the year. Apartments are now under construction, with foundations complete and erection commencing, with first handovers to customers expected in early 2022.




What do you see as the greatest success of this project to date? How has it made a promising start on the journey to its completion? 250 words max. Please upload an image of the project to support your statement



The Climate Innovation District’s greatest success to date is how it has already become renowned as being at the forefront of sustainable placemaking and is catalysing wider change, generating national media coverage, being cited at a case study in council planning guidance and cited as a ‘breakthrough innovation’ by the Grantham Institute.

Crucial to its success as a place has been the car free landscape. This unlocks space so that the majority of the district can be open green space, accessible to all. As well as green spaces surrounding the homes, we’ve planted meadows along the riverbank and areas where residents can grow their own food. A wide variety of edible planting has been woven throughout the landscape so fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables are available throughout the year.

Four major pieces of public realm are being created in the district, carefully positioned on an East-West axis guiding pedestrians and cyclists through the place. These include: ‘The Green’ a 50m x 30m area of green space and trees in the centre of phase 1 on the north bank, connecting to the pedestrian bridge. ‘The riverside park,’ a 35mx35m green area lined with planting meeting the bridge on the south bank and looking out on to the river. ‘Clarence Square’, a 30m x 30m civic square and ‘Central Square’, a 20 x 40m communal open space.

These are connected by a pedestrian boulevard. These nodes of public spaces will enable community interaction and encourage more sustainable travel choices.



How are you responding to changing demographics, behaviours, market context, policy, transport habits and the climate crisis since winning planning? What is your sustainability strategy and how are you mitigating carbon use and construction pollution? 250 words max. Please attach images, drawings or reports that support your statement


The goal of the Climate Innovation District from the outset been to act as a catalyst that both enables and encourages more sustainable behaviour. Since work on the site commenced in 2017, plans have been updated to provide not only a primary school, but create a ‘multi-generational facility’ that consists of a primary school, small care home, community cafe and 1-2-bedroom apartments for young people all in the same building to encourage inter-generational interaction within the community. As well as being designed to be zero carbon, using a timber frame and ultra-efficient design, the primary school component will also take the radical step of not providing any car parking (except for blue badge holders) and instead providing ample cycle parking and public shower facilities, which was taken in response to the climate emergency.

We’ve also evolved our plans for ‘The Place’, our new zero-carbon office building since the project’s inception. To meet increased demand for a sustainable zero-carbon office space, we’ve added a storey to allow us to lease space to commercial tenants as well as it being our new headquarters and a centre of excellence for tackling climate change. We also improved the sustainability of the design to further reduce carbon emissions by replacing the originally planned steel frame structure with a hybrid CLT glulam structure, using recycled piles and a new cemfree low carbon concrete product for the foundations and replacing plasterboard (which can’t be recycled) for the internal fit out with more sustainable materials.


Please share any figures on how the project is making a positive environmental, social and economic impact. Data or reports, article references or media clippings may also be attached to support your argument. 250 words max.


For its pioneering approach to creating a sustainable place, the Climate Innovation District has been featured on: Channel 4 News, BBC One: Inside Out, BBC One: Look North, Channel 5 News and ITV News as well as being covered by The Guardian, Sunday Times, Telegraph, New Stateman, and Architects Journal.

Residents quotes:

“The position of the houses makes it feel like a calm oasis in a busy city. We have our own unique sheltered enclave, with the River Aire sweeping past. It looks like we’re in Stockholm.” – Craig

“We really love our home, it is full of light. The rooftop terrace is great. We love the location, which means we are both able to walk to work in the city centre.” ¬– Marlene

“I love living near the river. A lot of what makes it so great is the community. We’ve got a really good community here; so far, we’ve got somebody from; Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, China, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Malta. It’s so multicultural, which feels really amazing.” – Katrina


“It has sustainability running through it” – Wayne Hemmingway, designer.

“This is the future” – Hillary Benn MP

“Shows how sustainable and creative with space you can be with a central urban site” – Leeds Community Homes

“Citu’s concern for our wildlife has gone to the top of their agenda. The developers have captured the opportunity to sow grasses and plants that help create a more resilient place for wildlife.” – Professor Chris Gorse, Leeds Beckett University

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