Mill campaigners to fight on despite lottery heartache

Campaigners from Kirkstall Valley Development Trust, wanting to save Abbey Mill in Kirkstall for the community are closing in on a �40,000 crowdfunding target. They want to launch a community share offer for the building and turn it into a hub. From left, Fiona Butler, Chris Hill, Paul Holdsworth and Adele Rae. 12th April 2017. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
Campaigners from Kirkstall Valley Development Trust, wanting to save Abbey Mill in Kirkstall for the community are closing in on a �40,000 crowdfunding target. They want to launch a community share offer for the building and turn it into a hub. From left, Fiona Butler, Chris Hill, Paul Holdsworth and Adele Rae. 12th April 2017. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Ambitions to breathe new life into 200 acres of land and two mills in Leeds will carry on despite the project not winning hoped-for lottery funding.

The Kirkstall Valley Development Trust (KVDT) wants to build a ‘sustainable-living’ education centre 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 the nearby St Ann’s Mill, had raised the £40,000 to get the project underway – with 155 people including five community associations on board. However campaigners have now been told the £84,000 lottery bid has failed. The shareholder money will now be kept in reserve until further talks with Leeds City Council on the future of the mill. Donors can request the return of their investment. However 38 shareholders attended a meeting last week and voted “overwhelmingly” to battle on.

KVDT development director Chris Hill said: “We applied for £84,000 development money. We didn’t get it just because they felt that was quite a lot of money to risk. They’ve invited us to re-apply at a lower level. We are carrying on with the development plans.”

Mr Hill, 63, of Headingley, added that the council will now consider its sale options in the next couple of months. “It’s quite unlikely. It’s effectively been on the market for 10 years,” he said. A planning meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 20 from 7.30pm at the New Burley Club on Burley Hill Drive.

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