You might not know it, but things are changing in Hull. This city has been changing constantly since I moved here in 2005 and there’s plenty more in the pipeline that you can start to get excited about.
Hull’s never had the best of reputations as a place to live in this country, being awarded a ‘worst place to live’ a couple of times in the 2000s certainly didn’t help. I’ve always found it strange though because even before I moved here, I never thought it was such a bad place.
But it’s changed so much since I arrived here, it’s almost unrecognisable from the city I moved to nearly 16 years ago.
There’s so much more to do now. There are way more restaurants, attractions and, pre-pandemic, so many events like family activities, festivals and theatre shows. This is why I started Hull What’s On in the first place to make it easy for people to see when and where everything is.
I’ve heard Hull described as ‘a city on the edge of the world’, and that’s kind of how it feels to me. Hull is a quite different place to other parts of the UK I’ve lived in or been to. It’s unique but in a good way. I like it. It’s part of the UK but sort of the awkward cousin in the family that nobody really gets.
I love the city centre which, although still has a way to go, is big enough to have all the things you need, yet not too big where it takes forever to get from one side to the other. I love being surrounded by the countryside, and the small market towns. And I love being so close to the beach! For me, Hull’s a great place, and there’s so much still to come which you’ll see with this list of exciting developments happening in Hull over the next few years which will make it an even better place to live.
So there are only two things I don’t like about Hull. No broadband choice and the roads. I’ve always said that for some reason, when one road in Hull gets blocked, the whole system comes to a halt. It’s a bit mental and I can’t explain why, but it does. However, I’m hoping that the work to the A63 from Highways England is going to make a huge difference in a few years time. The A63 is the big dual carriageway coming into Hull from the rest of the country. It’s our corridor in and out of here by car, and right now we’re blocked at numerous sets of traffic lights and crossings.
The recent opening of the Murdoch’s Connection Footbridge is the first big development that we’ve all been excited about. The pesky crossing that it replaces has been a huge obstacle in crossing over to the marina and back, and it brings the traffic to a standstill during busy times. The new bridge takes all that away, and there’s more to come.
The mytongate roundabout (the main roundabout at the bottom of Ferensway linking to the A63 and Ice Arena & Retail Park) will become a bridge with sliproads from and to the A63, which will then run underneath. The traffic lights futher east where the King Billy statue is, will be removed allowing cars to continue straight through with ajoining sliproads to allow traffic to join and exit. You can see for yourself on this flythrough video published a few years ago…
The work to the A63 will be inconvenient for drivers for a few years but it’s all expected to be completed by late 2025 / early 2025.
Now along the A63 as you come into Hull, on the left hand side is the new Bonus Arena; a fantastic addition to Hull which has brought some big names in music and comedy, much bigger than what we would have had without it. Well that whole area is set to be transformed over the next few years. Opposite the arena right now, is an empty Staples unit and car park, plus 2 other empty retail units, while adjacent to the arena and in front of the Princes Quay car park, are some grade II listed buildings surrounded by scaffolding.
In June 2019, Hull City Council approved a joint proposal by Wykeland and Princes Quay to build a 9-storey 150-bed hotel with a rooftop bar in the area south of the arena, in front of the Princes Quay car park. Work to relocate the Earl De Grey pub and Castle Street Chambers – two historical grade II listed buildings – began in October last year as they’ll be located next to the hotel.
The larger ‘Staples’ site opposite the arena is set to bring larger retail units to the city centre but no plans have been submitted as yet, that we know of.
Dock Office Row
A little further up the river Hull on the west bank, is the North End Shipyard which will soon become a visitor attraction as part of the Yorkshire’s Maritime City project.
Reflecting 400 years of shipbuilding history, it’s the place where both HMS Bounty and HMS Boreas, once commanded by Horatio Nelson, were built. This hidden gem behind Hull College, will have its rich story told for the first time when the area is transformed and a new visitor centre is built.
It will also become the new, permanent dry-berth for the Arctic Corsair, preserving her future for the next 100 years.
Moving into the centre of ‘town’, Albion Square is an exciting new retail and leisure development announced by Hull city council a few years back. It’s the space between Bond Street, King Edward Street and Prospect Street where there’s currently an abandoned BHS building and the three ships mural which (for some reason beyond me) many people love (I’m sure it’s full of history, but for me, it looks like the base of an old manky swimming pool – sorry!).
Anyway, the council acquired the land and are looking to work with a private developer over the next few years to see their vision come to life. They want to relocate the current Ice Arena from Kingston Retail Park on the south side of the A63, into the new development so it’s an attraction that’s easier for everyone to access daily.
Around the new Ice Arena, they’re planning for more retail, office and residential spaces as well as nice open public spaces for people to enjoy. This is likely to be around 2024/25 time for completion but they’re currently stuck due to the newly listed status of the three-ships mural.
City Centre Living
Over the next few years, you can expect to see lots of new apartment blocks pop up around the city centre. There are so many patches of land that the council has earmarked in their plan for residential development. Waterfront apartments are planned for different areas along the River Hull such as the East Bank development (where the tall Premier Inn currently is), further up on Dock Office Row next to the North End Shipyard attraction, and Wincolmlee (where there’s currently a gravel car park).
Add to that, the proposed new £30m high-rise apartments on Ferensway opposite the new DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, the new Glass House apartment block which has been completed at the old police station in Queens Gardens, and loads of housing and apartments at the marina – Fruit Market and Humber Quays.
Also, with the Ice Arena moving into the city centre, that leaves plenty of space for a developer on the old site next to the Odeon Cinema which was only recently revamped into a luxury cinema. Council want this to be more residential housing too.
This is all great news for the city! I’ve always said that it’s not rocket science when it comes to getting more people in the city centre… if you can get more people working there and living there, then it’ll have increased footfall. More footfall will mean more investment from large UK retail companies and attractions. So that Ikea, Wagamama or TGI Fridays might not be too many years away if the council’s plan comes about.
The marina area is definitely one of the city’s jewels in the crown. It’s just beautiful down there in the spring and summer seasons and the council are planning to keep it that way.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen the area transform with new pathways and roads, buildings and grants for businesses to start along there. We’ve seen restaurants and galleries open up and office blocks on Humber Quays. Now we’re seeing the completion of Beal Homes Fruit Market housing development alongside Wykeland Group’s office developments for C4Di and the new Arco Headquarters next to the new 350-space multi-storey car park.
Next to the office blocks on Humber Quays, there’s more land earmarked for residential apartments, offices and leisure too!
I love that there are plans to create a better Queens Gardens. I love city centres that have great outdoor spaces and Queens Gardens right now is looking a bit ‘worse for wear’, let’s say. Hull city council have announced plans to update this amazing space to give new water and art features, poetry and restoration of the rose bowl fountain.
The plans also incorporate modern, eco-friendly features, including electric vehicle charging points, the introduction of plants and trees to increase the gardens’ biodiversity and the incorporation of designs and functions that will allow the area to be used for flood alleviation.
The £4.3m Queens Gardens refurbishment is being funded by Hull City Council and plays a key part in the Yorkshire’s Maritime City project.
With BBC Building, and the new Glass House, this is going to look fantastic once it’s completed.
Whitefriargate is a bone of contention amongst many Hull-loving residents. Many years ago, it was a fantastic high street in the city centre, but with the development of Princes Quay in the 90s and St Stephens in 2007, shops left the street and migrated to the new centres leaving Whitefriargate full of empty units.
Hull City Council have announced plans to develop the street into a more cultural setting for independent shops, bars and cafes which from what I can tell, is pretty much what everyone in Hull would love to see. Big thumbs up!
In fact, the council have been awarding grants to new business ventures down there. The most recent being Wrecking Ball Press who were awarded £100,000 for their new cafe and venue.
Over the next few years, we’ll start to see better leisure facilities around the city too. Recently, the council announced plans to restore the old lido at Albert Avenue baths which look fantastic! They’ve recently invested £250,000 in restoring the old East Park splash boat too and with the refurbishment nearly completed at Beverley Road Baths, the options for swimming and water fun around Hull look pretty decent indeed.
Oh and I forgot to mention that they’ve ‘splashed out’ £850,000 on a new water splash pad at East Park which is set to open this summer too!
To me, this sounds a little way off but Hull City Council still have ambitious plans to create a cruise terminal in the city centre, down by The Deep.
If it comes off, it would mean a huge boost to the local economy with over 100 jobs expected to be created, and plenty of tourists coming in and out of the city, stopping in our hotels and spending in our restaurants.
Hull’s heading in the right direction…
Whichever way you look at it, these plans are incredibly exciting and are going to improve our city no end. The council have faced some criticism in the past for having no ambition but I don’t think that’s the case any more. Since 2014, the council have taken risks, investing in a campaign to bring the city of culture award to Hull which they successfully did in 2017 and we’re now seeing the benefits of that with things like the Bonus Arena, the upgraded Hull New Theatre, more hotels and leisure attractions. Sadly, with the pandemic, it hasn’t helped the cause, but with these new investments outlined above, I believe there are more good things coming our way.