Leeds landmark goes from blot to hot after revamp

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It was once dubbed an eyesore, and became the focus of a long-running and very public wrangle between its charismatic owner and Leeds City Council.

But now, almost a decade after talks first began - and after a number of hurdles and delays - the refurbishment of the former Mike’s Carpets building in Armley is finally complete.

Former Glory: 
MC Carpets ('Mike's Carpets' building) Branch Road, Armley, Leeds. Pictures: James Hardisty

Former Glory: MC Carpets ('Mike's Carpets' building) Branch Road, Armley, Leeds. Pictures: James Hardisty

Once an Edwardian methodist chapel, the Grade II listed building has been revamped as part of the £2.7m Armley Townscape Heritage Initiative, a joint grant scheme between Leeds City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Around £650,000 in total - and £375,000 of Heritage Lottery Fund money - has gone into the work.

The remaining project costs have been met by owner Mike Smith’s match funding and council contributions.

The building, which now houses MC Carpets, sits on the busy Stanningley Road route into the city centre and is considered a landmark on a key gateway into and out of Leeds city centre.

Martyn Thompson, Financa Director of MC Carpets & Furniture Stores Ltd, on the first floor of the building.

Martyn Thompson, Financa Director of MC Carpets & Furniture Stores Ltd, on the first floor of the building.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “Despite many challenges, the Armley grant scheme has demonstrated the benefits of strong partnership working between the council, Heritage Lottery Fund and property owners.

“In particular the restoration of the chapel at the former Mike’s Carpets building has greatly enhanced a key gateway site. “Hopefully this and the other projects that have been carried out will make a positive lasting impact for Armley.”

Local councillor Jim McKenna (Labour, Armley) added: “Whether you are walking up to Town Street or going towards Gott’s Park or the City Centre, you know where you are when you can see the building!

“This has been a challenging process, but it is one where it was absolutely right for us to push through and make sure the work was completed.”

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The Armley Townscape Heritage Initiative has seen the restoration of 22 historic shops and buildings along Branch Road and Town Street.

The work has included bringing in traditional shop fronts and the reinstatement of natural Yorkstone flags on the footpath along the shopping parade in Town Street, with keystones highlighting local celebrities, such as the authors Alan Bennett and Barbara Taylor Bradford, industrialists and historic events.

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