BY NIGEL SCOTT
MULTI-million pound plans to regenerate one of the most historic – and eccentric – buildings in Leeds have been unveiled by developers.
London-based SJS Property Management wants to invest 180m to transform the Egyptian-style Temple Works building in Holbeck and surrounding land, creating up to 3,000 full-time jobs.
The building would be reborn as what the developers call a “cultural retail” centre – a mix of shops and more highbrow attractions such as art and sculpture – following a trend already established in Europe.
Temple Works is a Grade I listed former flax mill built between 1836 and 1840. It was based on the Temple of Horus at Edfu, reflecting a craze for ancient Egypt which swept Europe in the first half of the 19th century.
SJS, which specialises in regeneration work, says investigations of Temple Works have revealed “major problems” that must be addressed. The estimated cost of restoring the building could reach 20m.
The company wants to develop land to the south of Sweet Street which is currently outside the existing Holbeck Urban Village development plan and has submitted an outline application to Leeds planning chiefs.
Its plans for Temple Works, and other land and buildings to the north of Sweet Street West fall within the regeneration scheme.
SJS’s Chris Hall, in charge of the plans, said the company’s vision – which includes 40,000 sq ft of retail space and 200,000 sq ft of offices – presented “an extraordinary opportunity” to transform the area and help to put Holbeck back on the Leeds map.
He said: “Temple Works is a unique piece of world heritage, originally a flax mill covering an area the size of a football pitch. The flat roof was originally covered in grass, providing natural insulation. In design terms it was well ahead of its time. We intend to grass the roof again.”
He said current structural problems were caused by the removal of the grass, which caused the building to contract during the winter.
Mr Hall added: “To fund the restoration, and provide income for its long-term survival, we intend that Temple Mill should become the first place in the UK to embrace the European concept of a cultural retail centre.
“This will echo its original layout, with a system of ‘streets’ within an open plan, allowing high-end designer shops to mix with art, sculpture and event space.”
Restaurants and cafes would feature. Office space and leisure facilities would be created on neighbouring land.
The nearby former Reality and Shop Direct buildings would be demolished to make way for apartments, offices, parking and green spaces.
Mr Hall said: “We have consulted with local politicians and those responsible for the urban regeneration of Holbeck.
“We shall now arrange a programme of public consultations and information displays at which people will be able to see the outline proposals and to have their questions answered.”