Landmark Leeds factory's new role

A factory hailed as "a cathedral of the industrial revolution" is set for a new lease of life as an office complex.

Alf Cooke's packaging and printing works in Hunslet Road, Leeds, will be refurbished and converted into offices in a multi-million pound scheme.

The grade-two listed Victorian building, which features a clock tower, is a prominent Hunslet landmark.

It is currently vacant and developer the Rushbond Group has drawn up plans to transform the factory.

The print halls and adjoining mill building will be retained with later 20th century additions to be demolished and replaced by eight three-story blocks.

A report to the council's city centre plans panel said the scheme would be carried out in three phases, with work to make the historic buildings weather-tight and secure included in phase one.

It said the retained print halls and mill building would be the focal point of the development, providing the backdrop to a green landscaped area.

The new buildings will be red or blue brick and the report added: "The history of the building would be reflected in public art throughout the site."

Coun Geoff Driver (Lab, Middleton Park) said: "People regard this as one of the cathedrals of the industrial revolution and and the people of Hunslet feel attached to it." He feared the proposed new buildings would "create a barrier of ordinariness next to something quite remarkable."

Coun Elizabeth Nash (Lab, City and Hunslet) said: "This is one of the most beautiful buildings in Leeds and I am delighted that something is going to be done with it because when buildings are empty they begin to deteriorate.

"Any public art must complement the building and not detract from it."

The panel agreed officers could grant planning approval once a legal agreement covering aspects of the scheme had been signed.

Details of the proposed public art will be discussed by a future meeting of the panel.

Artist's impression of the Axiom retail park.

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