I visited Leeds Dock this afternoon. What a depressing place. I don’t know how long it’s been there but it’s already showing signs of falling apart. Compared to what it might have been the Leeds waterfront / river area is a bit rubbish. It has the distinct look of a 2000s property boom gone wrong. You just know they will have talked a lot about 'exciting spaces' and ‘regeneration’ – which many people have now spotted was short-hand for property speculation / expensive flats. Cheaply built expensive flats by the looks of it. I think all the cool young people earning a fortune in ‘digital industries’ are supposed to live in them when not out jogging to the office, eating sushi, playing ping-pong outside cafes and riding bikes with no gears to Tesco Metro. But I think the word ‘faux’ applies to a lot of it – faux public spaces, faux community, faux cool, faux bleeding edge…For people who have ‘lifestyles’ but oddly find that they don’t always feel as great as they should.
I don’t know when it was all built but it was clearly quite recently. But now we see the stains on the buildings, the cracks, the weeds, the plastic coating peeling off posts and railings, plants and green algae growing where they’re clearly not supposed to, rusty bits on vents and fittings and maintenance budgets (if they have them) presumably not up to the task. Like a smart City trader after a weekend in the cells it doesn’t look so smart any more. It looks a bit abandoned really.
And basically it’s a pile of tower-blocks. I don’t know if anyone estimated how long they’d last when they built them, my guess is that was a question dodged, but I predict that it’ll be less than 20 years before the first one comes down and the questions start getting asked as to how they got away with so many shoddy buildings that no-one really wanted or needed.
I just Googled ‘Leeds Dock’ and it seems it has a website – “Leeds Dock is a thriving public space featuring the best the city has to offer, from flexible contemporary workspace to quirky cafés and outdoor dining”.
It doesn’t look like it’s thriving (if it was maybe they wouldn’t have to insist it was) and I suspect that most of the space is actually private. Quirky cafes – oh Lord save us! Look at the News section for a list of Tweets about how brilliant it seems to be desperately trying to be.
Am I just being harsh and cynical? Probably. Are these people really having a wonderful time? Perhaps so and I should embrace 'independent food' and 'agility workshops 'to improve your run' (for only £12.50!) and waterside yoga and...well, perhaps it's just not for the likes of me...