Plans for £3m refurbishment of historic Electric Press in Leeds approved by council

Plans for a £3m refurbishment of a landmark Victorian building have been approved by Leeds City Council.

By Lizzie Murphy
Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 4:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 5:58 pm

The three floors of office space at the grade two-listed Electric Press building in Leeds will include a new terrace and club room.

Work will start on site in the summer after councillors approved the plans for the 17,200 sq ft space, which will be named Switch.

The present offices, previously occupied by Leeds Metropolitan University, now known as Leeds Beckett University, will be stripped out, and work is expected to complete by June 2023.

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The new office space at the Electric Press in Leeds has been named Switch ahead of its £3m refurbishment. Picture: Ben Harrison

The three-storey Electric Press contains the 350-seat Carriageworks Theatre and conference rooms. It also includes bars and restaurants, including All Bar One and Casa Mia.

The new offices have been designed by RKA Architectural Design Studio.

Richard Keating, founder and director of RKA, said: “Our three-part vision is, first, to transform the arrival experience and building presence within Millennium Square. A new artist’s mural that fronts the square is a major part of this.

“Secondly, we will work with and respect the Electric Press’s heritage by maximising the hidden assets to enable users to experience the building’s volume, space and light.

“Taking inspiration from its arched windows and brick façade, we have designed contemporary reception and lift lobbies that fit seamlessly into the language of the existing industrial building.

“Thirdly, we will create enhanced amenity spaces for all tenants. These will include new rooftop club room and terrace create spaces for Yoga, parties, hot desking and wellness classes, plus the basement facilities with showers and changing rooms.

“These are all designed in keeping with the transformation upstairs.”

Eamon Fox, partner and head of office agency at Knight Frank in Leeds, who is marketing the offices on behalf of landlord DTZ Investors, said: “The offices were previously occupied by Leeds Metropolitan University.

“Time has inevitably taken its toll, while there was no external amenity space for staff who worked there. So the offices are absolutely ready for a grand makeover.

“The 17,200 sq ft Grade A office space will be spread over three floors, with floorplates starting at 4,600 sq ft. We expect serious interest from potential occupiers, once marketing begins.

“The magnificent new offices will respect the heritage of the Electric Press, whilst bringing this part of the building into the 21st century.

He added: “It also goes without saying, in a world transformed by covid, that this will be an incredibly safe place to work.

“There will be a hot-desking area and social space for all tenants, while a glass lobby will provide a visual separation between the existing building and the clubroom.

“The new offices have been designed by the talented RKA Architectural Design Studio – and, quite frankly, I am blown away by what they are proposing.

“These are going to be some of the finest offices not just in Leeds, but in the whole of Yorkshire and the North East”.

Built in 1840, the Electric Press is one of only a handful of buildings in Leeds city centre still fronted by Victorian arches.

The building, located in Great George Street, next to Millennium Square, in the heart of Leeds Civic Quarter, has a trademark square chimney.

The grade two-listed building was created for the firm of printers Chorley and Pickersgill.

The building has 4.3m high ceilings with exposed cast iron and timber structure, designed originally to support the heavy printing presses.

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