Earliest surviving cloth hall in Leeds could become bar

The First White Cloth Hall site in Kirkgate.
The First White Cloth Hall site in Kirkgate.
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The earliest surviving cloth hall in Leeds could be transformed into a bar or restaurant.

Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel will meet on Thursday to consider a report which sets out details of pre-application plan for the repair and restoration of the First White Cloth Hall, Kirkgate.

The hall was built in 1711 after a challenge from Wakefield, which had built a cloth hall in the previous year in a bid to become the market centre for the trading of white cloth in the West Riding.

The first Leeds hall was quickly superseded by several larger ones as the city became the regional capital of the cloth trade.

Following its rediscovery as the earliest surviving cloth hall and in recognition of its historic importance, the building was Grade II-listed in 1983.

But the council report reads: “Unfortunately, it has been in a poor condition since its listing and is on Historic England’s at Risk Register and acknowledged as being the highest category of risk with potential for further rapid deterioration with no solution agreed.”

After the council were handed £1.5m Heritage Lottery Funding in 2012, £500,000 was put towards the “critical project” of restoring the hall.

But the report said: “After the grant funding was secured, the owners of the FWCH, City Fusion, stated that they do not have the ability to bring a restoration project forward.

“Despite initial agreement to transfer ownership of the building to the council, they have not been able to acquire the building.”

Possible plans include reinstating the building’s front and west wing and to “introduce high quality modern design”.

The report adds: “At this stage the intention is to plan for a bar and/or restaurant use as the most likely viable option.”