Leeds considers future evening economy policy

One of England's major cities is preparing to rein in the explosion of its evening economy to protect residents' amenity.

Leeds City Council is considering a study by consultancies Chesterton and Urban Practitioners into the stresses caused by the authority's early 1990s decision to encourage round-the-clock living in the city centre.

The report claims that the growth of the late-night economy has helped to fuel the regeneration of the city, which has experienced the fastest employment growth - 12 per cent - of any metropolitan authority in England in the past decade.

It shows that the number of nightclubs, bars and restaurants in the city centre has nearly tripled in the intervening decade and finds that the growth of the late-night economy is a key factor in the success of universities in Leeds in attracting more candidates than any other city.

But the consultancies also point to a downside of the policy. The arts and cultural sector makes up a relatively small percentage of the overall entertainment offer, they maintain, and restaurants form a declining proportion of leisure use.

The report highlights the tension between the proliferation of late-night entertainment outlets and the needs of the city centre's residential population, which has grown from 4,300 to 5,200 between 1999 and 2002.

Leeds city centre manager Pauline Foster said: "These new residents are increasingly finding the night-time activities at odds with their desire for peace and quiet." The report makes recommendations to enable the city to appeal to a wider cross section of the population and not just to young drinkers and clubbers.

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