Leeds River Aire

River Aire waterfront in Leeds

Leeds ranked as one of the UK’s top creative cities

Leeds has been named as one of the UK’s top creative cities in a new report by global real estate advisor CBRE.

CBRE has published, ‘Creative Regions’, a first of its kind report, showcasing the top 25 regional creative locations outside of London.

These locations are identified as having the key ingredients required by this sector to progress and develop as future destinations for the creative industries (including publishing, film, TV, media, digital, computer programming and information services). 

CBRE believes common characteristics of successful creative locations include large concentrations of creative businesses and professionals, deep talent pools of highly educated graduate populations, large and growing millennial populations, good transport connections, quality of life and proximity to world class universities with strong research and computer science ratings.

And as a destination for creative businesses, the report shows that Leeds has a lot to offer. It is seen to offer a strong quality of life in terms of choice between urban lifestyles or rural environments and accommodates a number of creative clusters.

It benefits from good transport links, a young, highly educated talent pool and strong university research ratings. It also offers attractive business rates and office rents, as well as competitive labour costs and relatively low cost of living compared to London and many South East locations.

Well known digital hubs, which are vital to creative businesses looking to build strong networks and innovate, are also ever present and include Test Space Hub, Digital Hub, Leeds Innovation Centre, Creative Industries Hub and Sky Technology Hub. 

These hubs provide vital networking and knowledge support for creative businesses to grow and develop. As a creative sector destination, Leeds has great potential.

The city also benefits from the economic base of its city region, which incorporates other nearby towns and cities, including York, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield and Harrogate.

This wider economic area contributes additional intellectual capital via a number of other major UK universities, including the Universities of York and Bradford.

In addition, the wider city region employs almost a similar number of people in the creative sector, as Leeds does in its own right, thereby enhancing the wider regional offer in this part of Yorkshire.

Jonathan Shires, senior director at CBRE, said: “The tech phenomena looks set to continue in the UK.  Technology and creative industries, in general are not affected by regulatory restrictions or fears over single market access.

“Contrary to common perception, large numbers of these companies are based outside of the capital and this will continue to be the case. Evidence shows that regional cities such as Leeds also have the critical mass of talent necessary to compete successfully in this sector.

“There are many tempting reasons to locate to the area, including quality of life, access to large talent pools, transport connections and cost of living.  Indeed, given the growing cost of higher education and the cost of living in London, the large regional centres such as Leeds are increasingly proving an attractive proposition for graduates and employers.”

Emma Jackson, associate director in CBRE Research, added: “As this sector continues to grow, the choice of office space and where to locate will be ever more critical to its sustainability and future growth.

“Through an in-depth understanding of the unique characteristics and potential of particular markets, which this new research offers, businesses will be better placed to make effective, cost efficient and informed property decisions that will greatly aid in the quest to attract and also crucially to retain the best talent to create competitive advantage.”