Victorian Leeds church to become home to hi-tech business

In its Victorian heyday the great and the good of Leeds would gather in its chapel to worship every Sunday.

But in recent years the grade two-listed Salem United Reform Church

in Hunslet has stood empty and neglected.

Now it is to become the headquarters for a hi-tech Leeds business.

The building which was on the market for offers in excess of 1m has been bought by Dr Adam Beaumont, the founder and managing director of

telecommunications firm aql.

His company is moving its operations from nearby offices in Hunslet to the site opposite the soon-to-close Tetley's Brewery.

Planning applications have been lodged to put up aql signs on three sides of the building which borders

Hunslet Road, Salem Place and Hunslet Lane.

Restoration work is being carried out on the building which was empty for six years. Dr Beaumont said: "There's a massive amount of internal and external work to be done.

"We are working closely with Leeds City Council conservation officers to make sure that whatever we do is in keeping with the heritage of the building. Our plan is for it to become our headquarters. The renovations should be completed by 2012 and we expect them to cost around 2m.

"It's a fantastic location and a beautiful building and it will bea special place to work in when it's finished."

The 37-year-old set up aql in 1998 during the dotcom boom.

It survived the dotcom bust and has grown into a business with a 4.5m turnover and around 30 members of staff.

Dr Beaumont began career with a PhD in Physical Chemistry and a three year stint as Leeds University's youngest lecturer.

He then worked in the private sector with the military where he developed his interest in telecommunications.

The company now has a list of top firms among its clients including its latest contract with the 3 network.

The dad-of-two said: "Once we've got the desk space we will be hiring as we're expanding rapidly. In the next year we will probably double our work- force."

Mr Beaumont also owns the Further North cafe bar in Chapel Allerton and is looking into setting up his own microbrewery.