The Concept: 2015

KEEP concept 3

“Think The Centre for Alternative Technology (renewables research and education presented as a visitor attraction*), powering The Biospherics Foundation (innovative closed-loop food, timber and other products), set in a picturesque,  flood-resistant post industrial  park like Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek – with enhanced community facilities, new jobs, recreational amenities and a green transport corridor”  Tom Bliss –

*CAT are now in fact involved, as partners with the two main universities in Leeds and KVDT in the Sustain project



Kirkstall Valley, with its iconic Abbey, historic mills, listed Humphrey Repton park, river, canal, museums, golf courses, nature reserves and green spaces, is one of the major underdeveloped assets of Leeds. And over the years many have suggested ways that it could be sustainably linked, enhanced, protected, cleaned and greened-up, for the benefit of local communities and the city at large.

KEEP Banner Photos

Following approaches from Kirkstall Valley Park (KVP) to Feed Leeds, and co-incidental approaches by potential eco-food businesses to Leeds Beckett University, Tom Bliss (of both organisations and UoL), and Architectural Engineering tutor Petros Tsitnidis, set a challenge to their Brazilian 2015 Summer School interns from the Science Without Borders (SwB) exchange programme: Could the existing aspirations of KVP and like-minded client groups be furthered and even realised by the establishment of an Eco Education Park in Kirkstall – one galvanised by investment in innovative closed-loop food and associated micro generation schemes?

This is what the team came up with:

cropped-lust-keep-logo.jpgThe Place
A major new city park where the usual (and already planned – by KVP) public amenities are enabled and enhanced by educational, research-focused visitor attractions, sustainable product outlets (delivering jobs and revenue for Leeds), and improved community facilities

cropped-lust-keep-logo.jpgThe Partnership
A collection of businesses, city / community services, and community enterprises
each operating independently, but with maximum co-operation for optimal internal recycling

cropped-lust-keep-logo.jpgThe Brand
Used by both park and partnership to express a joint commitment to closed loop, low carbon research, education and enterprise – and to drive sales

(The Summer School proposals from August 2015 appear below – here)

Diagrama 8 CS6

Interactive Map:




Student Projects 5: 2018 + “D+C”

In autumn 2018, we ran an additional module in the KEEP area, called Design and Community. This is project undertaken by all 3rd year degree students that is specifically designed to improve their skills in community engagement.

They work initially as a group, researching the site and relevant topics, then engage with local community stakeholders and the general public to develop a strategy for their sites.

Then they work alone, to develop designs for different areas and/or alternatives for the same area, and present these to community stakeholders and staff.

In the final phase, they take the feedback from this session and combine all work to date into a single coherent scheme for each site, which it is hoped that the local community might then consider taking forward to the next stage.

In 2018 there were two sites;

Burley Village Green (aka Burley Bottom Park)

Group A Portfolio

and the woods between Kirkstall Island Farm and Kirkstall Road.

Group B Portfolio

With many thanks to the people of Kirkstall and Burley who kindly gave up their time and ideas to help.

Kirkstall Island Farm (KIF): 2018

Leeds Beckett Landscape Dpt, Feed Leeds, Kirkstall Valley Park, Kirkstall Valley Development Trust (KVDT), Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and other interested parties have been working on options for the future of the council agricultural land at Burley Mills – in keeping with all of the above.

KIF Logo3

A concept scheme / discussion document was created by Leeds Beckett staff and researchers, and then developed by Feed Leeds as a ‘co-managed’ project with KVDT. The scheme flows directly from the Arup report to create a Community / Commercial Farm, Community Park and Nature Reserve.

The document’s original purpose was to engage with the simultaneous threat and opportunity presented by FAS2 – which was always likely to be game-changing. FAS2 might potentially have done away with all the land (to make flood lagoons), or saved most of it and provided seed corn for necessary infrastructure – or anything between. It later emerges that the farm should escape major flood works, but then it was reported that it might be entirely planted with trees, and the jury remains out. We have been advised that should the farm survive, the flood risk should drop over time as natural flood measures upstream come into effect. The opportunity for the farm project to benefit from FAS2 investment remains. The revised design below therefore includes fewer new water channels because water retention is no longer a priority. Channels do remain a good way to provide security with enhanced wildlife and amenity, so we have retained one in our proposals – with lifting bridges to provide controlled access, along with two of the proposed river bridges and the associated new paths. The revised scheme also reinstates a major role for Leeds 2023 in the form of a performance space well away from housing, with the whole of the park area being a legacy resource for the 2023 Festival.

The Concept Document is here: KIF-5.compressed

The scheme is subject to permissions from LCC, major funding, and local buy-in. The group taking these ideas forward plan to consult with the local community, using well-established Participatory Design techniques, as soon as they have worked out what is feasible. They can be contacted by emailing

NB Tom Bliss and Feed Leeds withdrew from this project in October 2018,
see: 10 10 22 Feed Leeds Minutes Oct 2018 (PUBLISHED)
It is now being progressed, to a slightly different vision, by KVDT

KIF title page

updated master plan 02062018






Centre for Sustainable Cities: 2017

KVDT’s Leeds Centre for Sustainable Cities – now named SUSTAIN – is an evolution of the KEEP concept based at Abbey Mills and St Anns Mills:

The main partners are KVDT, University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett and The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT).

KVDT are now leading on the development of the Farm area, using a different name and concept to Kirkstall Island Farm.


And could we have these on all the weirs?



Growing Better CIC Vertical Farm: 2017

Steps are now being taken towards a KEEP-style vertical farm, by Growing Better CIC

Phase 1, the test bench seen in the video above, has proved the process and established a market for microgreens.

Phase 2 will install a shipping container, currently being fitted out following a successful crowdfunding campaign, at the West Leeds Activity Centre (WLAC), to the north west corner of the KEEP site. A second unit is also being developed at Unity Business Centre on Roundhay Rd.

Phases 3 and 4 are planned to develop into a much larger zero-carbon hydroponic factory, housed either in one of the mills, or in a purpose-built facility, as suggested by the KEEP concept.

A linked project will, it is hoped, grow mushrooms from spent coffee grounds.

Growing Better CIC is run by, among others, three members of the Feed Leeds committee, and there are plans for other Feed Leeds food projects to be housed at WLAC, including a fruit tree nursery, community growing, a composting business and a school food hub run by LESSN, to tie the existing work of the centre with education around food and food growing.




Student Projects 3: 2017

Innovative proposals for the Morrisons and playing fields area from  Saumya Sampat:


Saumya Sampat proposals

Full proposals here: Saumya Sampat – Morrisons area

Alternative proposals for the same area from Teri Aken, Sam Sinn and Ed Stratton:

Ed's Island

Eds Flood

Full report here: Teri Aken, Sam Sinn and Ed Stratton

Marc Delaunay‘s proposals for the whole KVP area.


Kirkstall Abbey water meadows by Davanshi Rajgarhia:
Full report here: Davanshi Rajgarhia

New ideas for St Anns Mill by Lucy Junes:Lucy

Full report here Lucy Jones – St Anne Mill



Student Projects 2: 2016

Between September 2015 and January 2016, Masters students from Leeds Becket University, working on the Cities Alive module, (with tutors Tom Bliss, Chris Royffe and Ruwan Aluvihare teaching around the principles promoted in Arup’s Tom and Sally Armour’s book of the same name), took the concept proposals created by the summer school students, (see Step 1 below) and developed them to the next stage.

NB These proposals are more strongly influenced by the post-grad module requirements than the core objectives of KEEP.

Wayne's World

Visualisation of new bridge, park and vertical farm by Wayne Worsdale 2016

Wayne developed Area 5 (between the railway and the canal) – containing the green technology energy park, one potential site for a vertical farm, sites for the other innovative food producers and green industries, the marina, and general park amenities. Area 5 (Green Technology Park) Wayne Worsdale

Charlie Coppice pic

Visualisation of coppicing in the Nature Reserve (above) and detail of Forest Garden planting (Below) by Charlie Caldicott 2016

Forest Garden Plan

Charlie investigated how the nature reserve in Area 4 might be made more productive, without detriment to its status, by introducing coppicing, forest gardens and grafted orchards. Area 4 (Nature Reserve) Charlie Caldicott

Trash Trap

Vivian’s wonderful Trash Trap Bridge 2016

Vivian looked at Area 6 in more detail – this is the area which contains Armley Mills and weir, extending up to the marina and sports area. Area 6 (Armley Mills +) Vivian Ng


Visualisation of riverside café  by Mohamed Al Abri 2016

Mohamed explored the possibility that the private 9 hole golf course on Redcote Lane might be relocated to within the LCC 18 hole course, which is being privatised (with the local club possibly only taking half of the course), thus freeing up riverside land for KEEP development. Area 3 + (Farm and Golf Course) Mohamed Al Abri

Other students developed ideas influenced by KEEP in other parts of the valley.



Student Projects 1: 2015

This is the proposal document produced by the summer school students

Summer School Proposals as a 117 page booklet

NB This contains a few errors, omissions and ‘big ideas’ – as student work will

Summer School proposals as separate chapters (for easier access)

Introduction Summary, background, survey and analysis

AREA 1 New under-bridges and Abbey Mills brewery, shops and green enterprise

AREA 2 St Anns Mills, vertical farm, sustainability centre and businesses (3 options)

AREA 3 Community research farm, shop, café, accommodation and gig space

AREA 4 Canoe club and nature reserves with coppice, orchards, hydro power etc

AREA 5 Energy farm and green technology park

AREA 6 Armley MIlls, sculpture trails, solar furniture etc

Appendices – references for Summer School Proposals (2015)

Includes research findings on: Deep Green Building Standards (‘The Living Building Challenge’), River Stewardship, Small Scale Renewable Energy Projects, Soils and Compost / Waste Remediation, Vertical Farming and Small Scale Closed Loop Food Systems, Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, Laura Fogg MA proposals for St Anns Mills in full

The proposals were shared with interested parties in a seminar at Leeds Beckett on 15 10 15.

KEEP seminar audio


Other relevant Leeds Beckett Student Proposals

Insects for Human Consumption The Grubbies (from Baker, Contini and Wyman MA) (NB these proposals relate to Meanwood and Hyde Park, but are very applicable to KEEP)

The Grubbies

Gotts Park Public Garden schemes (Emma Oldroyd and BA students)

Since the seminar, the KVP committee applied for and won funding for a Pocket Park at St Anns Mills to connect the existing path between the river and the rugby ground with the bridges over the weir by the fish pass. The first phase of this has now been built.

Pocket Park Proposal by KVP