Farsley residents overjoyed after shock recognition in Sunday Times Best Places to Live list

Residents in Farsley are overjoyed after the town was recognised in the latest Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 6:00 am

The thriving west Leeds suburb was described as an "up-and-coming creative neighbourhood" by this year's judges, bagging a special mention alongside winners Ilkley and Chapel Allerton.

The historic town, which sits in the Pudsey ward, was once famous for its wool making mills during the Industrial Revolution.

Today, the area is populated by young professionals and families, and centres on the popular Town Street and the redeveloped mill complex Sunny Bank Mills.

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A view of Town Street in Farsley. Photo: Tony Johnson

Dick Bonham, who co-owns The Constitutional in Town Street, has lived in Farsley for more than 10 years, and will be opening a second venue, Old Woollen, later this year.

He said: "Things have changed a lot over the years but there’s always been this real creative energy and it’s great that’s been recognised further afield.

“There’s a lot of interesting people here doing really exciting things and it has a very village-like, organic and cohesive identity.

"I think sometimes it can be perceived as a bit too far out geographically, but when people come here they just go 'wow, this is brilliant.'

Sunnybank Mills. Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“People have said to me for years, ‘This is the new Chapel Allerton’, so it is not a new thing, it has been rumbling on for a while.

"It's a real place to be.

"I love living here and the fact that there's so many exciting new venues and businesses opening up, I can't see myself leaving for a long while.”

John Gaunt, is the joint managing director of Sunny Bank Mills, which has been owned by his family for generations.

A plaque explaining the history of Sunnybank Mills. Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe

After it stopped operating as a cloth mill in 2008, the mill underwent a multi-million regeneration programme.

It is now home to more than 80 business and hospitality outlets.

John said: “At the mill we've employed Farsley people for generations and we've always noticed that there’s been a real sense of pride for the area and its history.

“Farsley folk are so loyal and always want to support local businesses, everyone just wants to muck in together.

“People here also have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, they want to give things a go and they want to do it locally.

"We can do our bit by investing and redeveloping the buildings but it takes the people and sustainable regeneration to really thrive.

“People are putting their heart and soul into the businesses here and that’s what the community really responds to, because it is something special.

“We couldn’t do it without this spirit and good local people - all we had to do was open the doors and let people in."

Leeds estate agent Mark Manning, of Manning Stainton, was not surprised to see Farsley mentioned in The Sunday Times guide.

He praised the independent shops, businesses and restaurants on Town Street, the good transport links to both Bradford and Leeds via the ring road and New Pudsey Railway Station and the mix of new and old homes.

Mark said: “Farsley has this really charming Town Street, with wonderful little shops, and you get the feeling as you walk down there that it is a nice place to live.

“That feeling brings in nice families and young people who want to live in that sort of area but perhaps want to find something that is not as pricey as similar areas in north Leeds.

“It is an area with a lot of history - it is named in the doomsday book - and the character stone built houses reflect that.

“It also has a nice mix of new build homes, making it a good place for first time buyers.

"All this is what makes Farsley such a little hotspot."

John added: “Ten years ago, people may not have heard of Farsley so this is the real recognition of everyone's hard work and investment in the community.

“I think it’s just the beginning, there's certainly a lot more to come.

“Now it's time to try and get in that top 10."