Leeds college plan gets go-ahead

The former Alf Cooke print works, Hunslet Road, Leeds.

The former Alf Cooke print works, Hunslet Road, Leeds.

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Councillors have given the go ahead for a Leeds landmark building to be converted into a new college campus.

Conservationists have described the Alf Cooke printworks in Hunslet Road as iconic, and now the grade two-listed building - which closed in 2005 - is set for a new lease of life.

Plans have been drawn up to transform the Victorian building, notable for its distinctive clock tower, into a campus for Leeds City College.

The scheme involves the retention, repair and refurbishment of the site’s key buildings and the demolition of others.

Courses currently provided at Thomas Danby College, Roundhay Road, including catering and hair and beauty would be switched to the new south Leeds site.

The council’s city centre plans panel agreed officers could grant planning consent once final details had been signed off.

Among those supporting the scheme was Leeds Civic Trust. In a letter to the council it said: “We feel that the refurbishment of the principal buildings for education use is an imaginative solution to the conservation of this iconic building.”

As part of the scheme, the applicant - Leeds City College/Printworks (Leeds) Ltd - will provide a total of £300,000 for off-site roadworks, public transport improvements and a contribution to the council’s proposed city centre park, which would be close to the new campus.

Planning consent was granted earlier this year for Alf Cooke’s to be converted into offices but a report to the plans panel said the college proposal provided a number of benefits.

It said: “It will bring a listed building that has been vacant for a number of years back into use within a relatively short timescale - not a speculative scheme like the previous office permission, promote a vibrant use in the south of the city and secure the restoration of the listed building.”

Coun Geoff Driver (Lab, Middleton Park) said: “This is a prestigious use of a site that means a lot in terms of the history of the city.”

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