Arup Leeds

Arup Leeds Know Your City Strategy & Delivery Plan front page


Arup is a collective of sustainable development experts working across 140 countries to develop a truly sustainable built environment. Founded in 1946 by Sir Ove Arup to “do socially useful work, and to join hands with others fighting for the same values”, shaping a better world is embedded in the firm’s purpose and values.

Arup has built an engaged presence in Leeds over the last 30+ years, championing local employment, delivering community volunteering, and embedding sustainability development into its projects.

The Arup Leeds office is home to more than 480 engineers, planners, digital experts and technical specialists, working on leading digital, property, energy, rail and highways schemes supporting the regeneration of the North West of England. The team have pioneered innovative design and planning solutions for some of the greatest water challenges facing Leeds and Yorkshire, including UK-first flood prevention measures for the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, and are leading on sustainable building design in the region, with net zero carbon ready projects such as 11 & 12 Wellington Place in Leeds - the first NABERS 5* rated building outside of London.

The team advises on city region strategies for sustainable economic development and inclusive growth in Leeds and the North West, helping build a cultural legacy for the city of Hull as part of the UK City of Culture 2017 and supporting Bradford’s successful bid for UK City of Culture 2025. They also partner with local non-profit organisations and local government to engage future industry talent.

Know Your City

In a move to deliver more outcomes-led and place-based social value at an office level, Arup launched Know Your City, a national initiative to roll out social value plans based on local needs for every UK Arup office. The Leeds office recognised the potential of this scheme to make a positive impact for the city, and became the first UK Arup office to develop a Know Your City plan, in 2021.

To ensure that the Leeds Know Your City Plan was addressing local need, Arup worked with Leeds City Council to align the plan to the city’s strategic priorities set out in the Leeds Best City Ambition and Inclusive Growth Strategy, and became a founding member  of the Business Anchors Network. The Network has provided a valuable learning opportunity for Arup to engage with not only the Council, but other like-minded businesses in Leeds too.

As a Business Anchor

To help engage the wider Leeds office around its role as a Business Anchor, the team digitised the Business Anchors Progression Framework into a Microsoft Form. This allowed over 20 senior staff within the Leeds office to complete the self-assessment, the results of which were then collated and formed the basis for a collaborative workshop discussion hosted by Arup with Arup senior leaders and officers from Leeds City Council.

The workshop provided an opportunity to candidly assess Arup’s current progress baseline against the Framework, and resulted in a practical and innovative set of forward actions to increase the impact that Arup can have for local communities in Leeds. This action plan directly informed the Leeds Know Your City Plan and established a foundation for an ambitious and robust vision for social impact in Leeds. The assessment also directly influenced targeted work to look at the local impact and sustainability of the office’s procurement in Leeds.

A priority when developing the Leeds Know Your City Plan was to ensure it reflected the priorities of local communities in Leeds. Alongside undertaking a Local Needs Analysis, Arup sought advice from Leeds City Council about identifying opportunities for Arup to support local communities and build relationships with local community organisations, and organised a further workshop to consider what the Leeds office could practically offer in support of local communities.

Being part of the Leeds Business Anchors Network enables Arup to drive and monitor positive impact on the city and aligns with their core social value approach - ensuring that their collective actions contribute to enduring and systemic change achieved through long term and effective partnership working.

More information on Arup’s approach to embedding social value into projects and across the communities they live and work within is set out in Arup’s UK social value white paper.

An Arup colleague presenting on the UK Social Value White Paper