Community-led project to revitalise Leeds heritage mills

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A NEWLY formed development trust hopes to breathe new life into 200 acres of land and two heritage mills it describes as an “unknown treasure” in Kirkstall Valley.

The Kirkstall Valley Development Trust wants to start by creating an education centre for sustainable living and a community cafe at Leeds City Council-owned Grade II listed Abbey Mills next to Kirkstall Bridge shopping park.

The trust, which also hopes to transform St Anne’s Mill, is set to launch a community share issue and is seeking to raise £40,000 to get the project underway.

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Chris Hill, development director of Kirkstall Valley Development Trust, said: “Abbey Mills should be the start of Leeds’ biggest ever community-led project.

“The valley park project is long term and ambitious, and will give development in the city new meaning beyond offices and retail parks.”

Mr Hill added: “Kirkstall Valley south of the Abbey remains isolated and underused. A relatively unknown treasure in the middle of our city.

“A year ago a small group got together, focused on bringing the two mills into community and education use.

“The small group, now with 60 paid up members, has organised as a development trust.

“We are working with the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, the Centre for Alternative Technology and local community groups to produce a viable education and community scheme.

“We will do this in part by achieving £2m Heritage Lottery support and by persuading the council to transfer the mill to the trust at the end of 2017 on the strength of our development plan.”

For more information on the project, go to www.kvdt.org.uk

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