Education institutes expand into former offices as Leeds seeks to retain graduates in the city

14 December 2016

A new education district is emerging in the south of Leeds city centre, as education institutions take office space previously used by corporate occupiers, according to new research from Savills.

The firm reports that Elliot Hudson College has recently moved into HSBC’s former office building on White Rose Office Park and there are plans to turn the former KPMG office, No.1 Embankment, into a secondary school to cater for 600 students.  Additionally, the Ruth Gorse Academy and the University Technical College opened their doors in Hunslet in autumn this year. 

David Aspin, chief executive of Munroe K, joint owner of White Rose Office Park, comments:  "Universities and the Education Funding Agency are working together to position themselves as a positive combination, as Leeds strengthens its position as a regional centre for learning.” 

While some secondary office buildings are being converted into residential apartments in other regional city centres, Savills reports that in Leeds this it outweighed by education institutions undertaking conversions in order to establish a sought after city centre presence.   For business parks, promoting education use supports the creation of a more diverse mixed-use environment, while locating students closer to businesses helps to introduce them to the corporate world and gives recruiters access to a pipeline of potential employees. 

The firm highlights that there are eight established universities in the Leeds City Region, attended by approximately 116,000 students.  Very few graduates move to London after graduation, bucking a wider national trend and contributing to the region’s strong talent pool.  This is a key factor in attracting investors and businesses to Leeds, says Savills.

Clare Bailey, associate director in commercial research at Savills, adds: “Leeds is already very successful at retaining graduates, in part due to its great leisure, cultural and retail offer and relative affordability compared to London.  The hope is that by closing the gap between education and the workplace, this will further help retain talent within the city and facilitate future growth.”


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