IT’s been a thorn in the side of council bosses for 15 years, but renovation work has finally started on a crumbling Leeds landmark.
The Mike’s Carpets building in Armley, which sits on the gateway Armley Road and Branch Road junction, is undergoing “significant restoration work” costing £650,000. The idea is to spruce up the area and draw investment in.
The building, built in 1905, was originally a Methodist chapel and is grade two listed. It is still home to a carpet sales business.
The work will be funded with £500,000 from the Armley Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme, a £1.4m pot of cash which is made up of Lottery grants and council funding. The building’s owner Mike Smith is paying the remaining £150,000.
Mr Smith, of Clifton Properties (Yorkshire) Ltd, said: “I am delighted this scheme has now begun. It has been a long time in the making. The visual impact on Armley these improvements should make will be great for the area inspiring confidence and hopefully bring some extra businesses and increasing footfall.”
The scheme involves repairs to the natural slate roof, restoration of the windows and terracotta entrance as well as rebuilding the boundary wall.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds council’s executive member for transport and the economy said: “The former Mike’s Carpets building is a famous Armley landmark and is on one of the main routes into Leeds city centre. It has been deteriorating for some time so it is a relief to see the scaffolding go up so work can start in earnest. The partnership working of the grant scheme with Mr Smith will bring the building back to its former glory and brighten up the junction.”
Relations between Mr Smith and council bosses have not always been so smooth.
The authority had previously offered him £250,000 to buy the building outright and later - when he refused the offer - threatened him with a compulsory purchase order.
He was also ordered to remove the large advertising hoardings which covered the building’s facade for many years.
Armley councillors previously told the YEP they had been “trying since 1999” to get the building restored.
The Armley grant scheme is also paying for a block restoration of other buildings on Branch Road. Council bosses say this is “already improving the look of the street” and work is scheduled to be completed by mid-December.