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I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed that the tides seem to be turning for developers in the Yorkshire region. Iconic sites such as the Lumiere in Leeds and previously mothballed  master plans, which have been on hold for a number of years, are now getting the attention and funding that they need to move forward.

This is fantastic news for our region. Not only will this turnaround means a greater experience will be had by visitors and shoppers, as well as there being more opportunity for those looking for residential properties in the cities, but it will also create jobs for the many labourers, developers, construction workers and bricklayers who have found recent years particularly difficult.

I have a real passion for development and was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work on two major projects earlier in my career; Bradford, the birth of a new city and Leeds Leads, the marketing of Leeds as a city to those outside of the region.

Working on two major areas within our region and promoting them to other cities throughout the UK, Europe and the World was hugely exciting. I had the chance to work with leading developers, to see sites as they unfolded and to witness and experience the evolution of a brown field site to a masterpiece, a mill building to luxury apartments and a run-down and deprived area to a community hub attracting people of all ages to work, visit and enjoy.

I arranged and managed a number of journalist visits during this time – we refer to them as familiarisation visits – with journalists from national and international papers coming to visit each city in turn. It was interesting to see their imaginations come to life when they were made aware of the projects that were planned.

Double page spreads featured in titles including the Guardian, Independent and Observer. The interest was astonishing, particularly as many of these journalists were based in London and at the time it could be difficult to drag them away from their desks to visit our humble region ‘in the sticks’

Two recent stories that have hit the headlines, which support the shift to greater levels of investment in property and development, are the proposed sale of the Leeds Victoria Quarter for £136million to Hammerson and the multi-million pound scheme to regenerate the neglected Gateway to Wakefield, which is close to the award winning Hepworth Gallery.

Both of these developments will have a huge impact on the areas that they are in. Hammerson are proposing an extension to the Victoria Quarter (let’s get saving ladies!) and the regeneration of the Wakefield Gateway will once again put the city on the map and reiterate that it is a place to work, visit and enjoy. Wakefield suffers from a lack of outside attention, which the Hepworth has certainly addressed, however this must continue.

Building and development to me is about more than bricks and mortar, it’s about more than high rise flats and iconic designs. The regeneration of our area needs constant marketing support and a sustainable communication plan which takes our messages to those who live outside of the region. We need to ensure that we attract the attention of those who will come into our cities to stay and most importantly to spend.

Regeneration needs to meet with objectives – we don’t want a beautiful collection of towns and cities that stand empty. We want a hub of excitement, which delivers shopping, leisure, art, creativity, socialising and what we are famed for – a friendly welcome.

The next few years will be very interesting. Buildings are already going up and with the Leeds Trinity Walk project underway there is already a feeling of anticipation in the city. I hope that I will be joined by others in celebrating the hard hats which are being dusted off and put firmly back on the heads of those who will make these changes happen before our eyes.

It’s this commitment to making our cities more appealing for us and those who come to visit that will keep Yorkshire firmly on the map.

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