The Concept

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:



Arup Report & Centre for Sustainable Cities

Arup River

Arup’s report reassesses and reenergises the original KVP plan.

KVP Strategy for Delivery – June 2017 (Amy McAbendroth)


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

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


Feed Leeds, KVP and KVDT are working on options for the future of the council agricultural land:

KVP Farm+Reserve2

Growing Better CIC Vertical Farm

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.

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.



Step 3: Flood-related student projects 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


Step 2: Student developmental work 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.


Step 1: Summer School ideas 2015

This is the proposal document produced by the summer school students

Summer School Proposals as a 117 page booklet (see below for smaller chapter files)

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


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

KEEP seminar audio


Following a very successful seminar (audio above), the project was further developed by Urban Design and Landscape Architecture students at Leeds Beckett. See Step 2 post above.

Since then, interested parties have reportedly been working on business plans, and the KVP committee have applied for Pocket Park funding to secure the heart of the site for future developments.

Pocket Park Proposal by KVP

Background Documents

KVP Nature ReserveOther relevant Proposals for the Kirkstall Valley

Kirkstall Valley Park – main website (Cllr John Illingworth)

Kirkstall Valley Project LCC 23-07-15-1 (from Paul Quarmby)

KVP Proposals (2009) (from Chris Royffe)

KVP Draft 09 (from Chris Royffe)

Kirkstall Vision (from Lindsay Smales)


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)


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

Yello Woods