Ambitious plans to restore one of the oldest buildings in Leeds to its former glory are set to go before the city’s planning chiefs tomorrow.
The Grade II* listed First White Cloth Hall, a former cloth market which dates from the 18th Century, has fallen into serious disrepair, with the council’s regeneration and conservation teams working with owners and developers for almost a decade to protect and preserve it.
Now detailed plans to revitalise and modernise the building on Lower Kirkgate are set to go before the City Plans Panel on Thursday, recommended for approval.
The project by developers Rushbond Group, who recently acquired the building, would see the hall’s west wing restored, a new covered courtyard with atrium built and a new shopfront put in place.
If approved, the plans would mean that in future, the building could be used for anything from retail, financial and professional services to a café or bar.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “The First White Cloth Hall was a key part of one of the most important chapters in the story of Leeds, when the city began to establish itself as a cornerstone of the textile trade and a global industrial powerhouse.
“It’s very unfortunate that this once impressive building has fallen into the dilapidated state we see it in today, but finally, after a great deal of hard work by our regeneration team, we are now on the verge of seeing it brought back into use as a bright, thriving contemporary hub which will be a focal point for this historic part of Leeds.”
The First White Cloth Hall was listed by English Heritage in 1983 following its ‘rediscovery’ as the earliest surviving cloth hall and in recognition of its historic importance to the economic history of the region and the nation.
It is one of the central projects in the Lower Kirkgate Townscape Heritage Initiative, which aims to protect and restore the historic character of a number of other buildings in the Lower Kirkgate area, which is the oldest street in Leeds.
A total of £1.5m was awarded to the project from the Heritage Lottery Fund, matched with £668k public funding.
The initiative has already seen 92 Kirkgate, a former 18th Century cloth merchant’s house, transformed into a traditional Yorkshire café, and its neighbour, at 93 Kirkgate, transformed into a café, bar and record shop. Nearby, 90 Kirkgate is the latest completed project, with offices on the first floor.
Members of the City Plans Panel are recommended to delegate the plans for the First White Cloth Hall for approval by the chief planning officer.
To see a copy of the planning report, visit: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk