Historic Leeds gem’s future to be set in coming days

DESIGN: What the historic building could look like after transformation.
DESIGN: What the historic building could look like after transformation.
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An ageing heritage asset, deemed at risk after falling into disrepair, could in coming days see its future secured as bids are to be decided over a £500,000 transformation.

Plans to revitalise the White Cloth Hall, one of Leeds’ oldest buildings which dates back to 1771, were approved earlier this month after almost a decade’s work to save it. Now, the city council’s executive board is to be asked to approve a potential grant of £500,000 as part of Heritage Lottery funding.

“It has taken a great deal of creativity and determination to get to this point,” said Coun Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning. “Finally we are on the verge of seeing this important and historic building brought back into use in a way which befits its status as one of our city’s key heritage assets.”

The plans would see the hall’s crumbling west wing restored, a new covered courtyard with atrium built and a new shopfront put in place, on one of the most historic streets in the city.

Leeds City Council has been working with owners, developers, Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund for almost a decade in an effort to save the former cloth hall. The First White Cloth Hall was listed in 1983 following its ‘rediscovery’ as the earliest surviving cloth hall and in recognition of its historic importance.

Members of the council’s executive will be asked next Wednesday to approve a potential grant of £500,000 as part of the Lower Kirkgate Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI). This initiative, which sees grant funding awarded to developers looking to bring buildings on Leeds’s oldest street back into use, would support the building’s new owners Rushbond.

The First White Cloth Hall

The First White Cloth Hall

“The Lower Kirkgate THI has already seen some exceptional progress made towards that goal and this next step will be an absolutely pivotal one in the journey towards one of our city’s oldest streets taking its rightful place in 21st century Leeds,” said Coun Lewis.

Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, stretch their arms out to collect food items distributed by aid agencies near Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017.  (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

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