Stonebridge Beck: This new housing development in Farnley is keeping the history of Leeds' mills alive

Property developers are transforming a historical mill and surrounding properties into over 100 heritage and contemporary homes.

By Abi Whistance
Friday, 17th June 2022, 9:19 am
Updated Friday, 17th June 2022, 10:06 am

A site famous for its historic contributions to Leeds, Stonebridge Beck is now being repurposed to breathe life into what was once a vital cog in the Farnley community.

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Taken on by local property developers Advent Developments and Rushbond PLC, the old mill and surrounding buildings will be transformed over the space of a year to create a total of 112 homes.

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Maintaining original features like big windows, thick walls and high ceilings, the project will see each cottage, workshop and warehouse modernised internally.

Maintaining historical features throughout the plot and modernising interiors, both Advent and Rushbond hope to highlight the beauty of the central Grade II listed mill whilst still creating a contemporary living space for families.

“[Stonebridge Beck] had a great history and is much loved by the local community because, frankly, a lot of people lived and worked there,” said Tim Reeve, spokesperson for both Advent Developments and Rushbond PLC.

“It was the bosom of the local community in its day, and subsequently, in later years it fell into vacancy so it evolved into a development opportunity.”

Original plans for the site saw the mill being used as a branch for a supermarket chain, but after local opposition the plot was instead handed over to be converted into housing that paid homage to its historic significance.

The site is made up of cottages, workshops, warehouses and the old mill building.

“We bought the property in 2016 and then submitted our planning applications, which were fairly complicated," explained Tim.

“There are some old cottages on the site, some workshops and warehouses and there is the old mill building, four storeys high with two or three wings, combined with a fabulous grand tower.

“All of these elements, including a millpond, are key parts of the historical aspects as a whole, and all elements that we wanted to try and keep and preserve as best as we possibly could do, notwithstanding the fact it presented a number of complications because of the nature of the site.”

Maintaining original features like big windows, thick walls and high ceilings, the large scale project will see each cottage, workshop and warehouse modernised internally, with the addition of several contemporary homes being built on the site from scratch.

Stonebridge Beck is transforming from a historical mill to over 100 heritage and contemporary homes.

“We'd like to think that this site does embrace all of the constituent elements surrounding and within the site to create something which is quite unique," said Tim.

"We never have standard house types, everything we do is unique to the site. And we've had some very, very positive feedback."

This combination of contemporary feel and historic character has created a buzz about the project city-wide, with several homes already handed over to budding residents.

Tim said: “I'm pleased to say that with our marketing to date, very recently, we handed over the first handful of properties.

Stonebridge Beck is set to be completed next year, with work currently underway to renovate the mill and surrounding properties.

"The first five properties of the 112 we've handed over, and this summer time, we've got a number of residents moving in.

"Because it's such an unusual product, we've sold extensively off-plan, and now we've got about 45% of this scheme committed with purchasers who are really excited about getting moved into the site. We're expecting that 40% of residents will have moved in by the turn of the year."

But appeal for Stonebridge Beck is not just thanks to its physical beauty and functionality; a shift in attitudes during the pandemic has seen the wants and priorities of families nationwide shift from urban to suburban spaces.

“Quite unusually, with this site you've got a combination of refurbished or converted homes, and you've got new builds, all alongside a new parkland that we're creating there, which is about two and a half acres alongside the beck," said Tim.

"We're creating some fabulous public open spaces with footpaths and dog walking with access down to the beck itself, so it's a very attractive and sustainable community.

"It's got a lot to offer; there's good schools close by, there's plenty of buses, transport and the like. So what it does is create a really attractive environment of fabulous new homes, which have a broad appeal."

Stonebridge Beck also has great access to local amenities and rail connections, with the motorway located just a mile and a half away and Leeds city centre within two miles.

“People want the best of all worlds, they want access to the city centre but they want their own defensible space," Tim said.

"They want something they can own. They want a garden, but they don't want too much garden because nobody wants to spend the whole weekend gardening! This is exactly what we're offering here, together with the benefit of the parkland, which is the best of all worlds.

"We've seen people moving out of areas where it's a bit more active and vibrant. You're getting people like students moving out of that type of student housing in Headingley; they've got a little bit older, they're getting married, they want a house, they want space for a family. And this is the perfect opportunity for them."

Stonebridge Beck is set to be completed next year, with work currently underway to renovate the mill and surrounding properties. For more information please go to www.stonebridgebeck.com.