Leeds saw a dominant industry in wool during the time of the Industrial Revolution, along with high rates of production in differing industries from printing to iron (Burt and Grady, 1994). Leeds industrial strength saw a surge in factory and mill construction, and much of Leeds increasing development relied on an inrush of Jewish migrants (Leeds City Council, 2015). However, foreign competition was too established by the 1970s and left many of Leeds industries, especially the manufacturing of clothing, in decline (Burt and Grady, 1994). The majority of factories and mills in Leeds central district were left discarded and derelict (Leeds City Council, 2015).
The area had gone into depression, the landscape left scarred. Regeneration plans were vital to save Leeds from the crippling period of deindustrialisation. By feeding money into service industries and rebuilding the city into a more migrant worker and student friendly place, Leeds was able to develop its financial sector in the 1990s (BBC, 2006). The wealth of Leeds has picked up in recent years and this led to an expansion in Leeds retail sector (Anon, 2009). As a result, Leeds is now the “retail capital of the North” with its latest openings of The Trinity Centre and Victoria Gate shopping centres. At present, 86% of employment in Leeds is seen in the service sector (Leeds City Council, 2015).
An issue with many brownfield sites that are seen abandoned along the river Aire which runs through the centre of Leeds, is that of contamination from industrial waste. With the recent regeneration of Leeds, companies attracted to the sites are now able to work alongside the local government and together can invest in converting and cleaning up old contaminated brownfield sites into offices and housing. The council has confirmed that “the accommodation of nearly 20,000 homes will be provided by 2018 due to brownfield site clearing” (Dewar, 2017).