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Senior councillors in Leeds to consider proposals for historic Otley Civic Centre and improved community facilities


Proposals for the future of the historic Otley Civic Centre building and improved community facilities in the town are to be considered by Leeds City Council chiefs next week.

At the meeting of the council’s executive board to be held at the Civic Hall on Wednesday 21 November, senior councillors will discuss plans for the Grade II-listed building as well as a proposal for the future expansion of the nearby Otley Courthouse into an enhanced community and arts venue.

The future of the Otley Civic Centre, which is managed by Leeds City Council and has been vacant since 2011, has been the subject of public consultation and discussions with local stakeholders, with tenders invited from interested parties.

The council has evaluated the expressions of interest and possible options and is recommending the building be sold to a developer to convert it into new apartments, including a number of affordable units.

Given the importance and status of the building, a key consideration has been the need for it to be refurbished and given a positive sustainable future, with the refurbishment costs expected to be up to £2million.

In order to improve community facilities in Otley, the council is also proposing to support proposals for the expansion of the nearby Otley Courthouse, which has been run by local residents as an arts and resource centre since 2004.

Expansion plans have been put forward to develop the former magistrates’ court to offer a new 400-seat auditorium together with new artists’ studios, music practice rooms, business and meeting rooms, gallery space and other public rooms.

In order to carry out its expansion, the courthouse would need to extend into part of the adjacent Leeds City Council-managed North Parade Depot. The proposal being put forward for approval is for the council to offer approximately one-third of the North Parade Depot to be used for the expansion of the Otley Courthouse, and to carry out negotiations as required including a commitment to community and public access at the enhanced venue.

Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said:

“This proposal offers a positive and sensible win-win solution, with an important historical building being brought back into use with a strong and sustainable future, also helping to offer a number of much-needed new affordable apartments in the centre of Otley and securing value for money for taxpayers.

“The council is also keen to support plans to enhance community facilities in the town, so although the proposal is still in its early stages we are happy to support the exciting plans for the expansion of the Otley Courthouse by offering part of the North Parade Depot, and we look forward to seeing that idea develop further.”