The Council sold 2.7 hectares of property at Red Hall Nursery and down-sized to a 40% smaller 1.8-hectare site at Whinmoor Grange in 2015. The Arium is set to maintain the same productivity as Red Hall producing two million bedding plant and 250,000 edible plants each year.
The city’s former nursery at Red Hall generated an income through on-site retail selling surplus stock to the public and sponsorship opportunities. The combined income per annum was in excess of £400,000.
The council aims to generate further income with The Arium through purpose-built plant retail and visitor facilities. Small horticultural retail areas have been created for the sale of surplus plant material. The council is also hoping to enhance sponsorship opportunities in community parks.
In addition, The Arium will provide an opportunity for cross-council trading by maintaining the production capacity of Red Hall, but on a smaller site. The new nursery will still maintain an important role in sustaining the Leeds ‘in bloom’ initiative.
The Arium will grow produce in-house because it is neither economic nor possible to buy produce in, according to a council document produced when the decision to build at Whinmoor Grange was made in 2015.
The new site will include a sowing and germination room, potting line and storage and a rain water harvesting system.
The breakdown of the development costs includes, external works (£1.6m), glasshouse construction (£4m), fees and other costs (£400,000) and the review and re-location (£500,000).
The council funded the project, in part, from selling its property at Red Hill through a Local Growth Fund (LGF) loan approved by the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for £2m at 0% interest.