Leeds mill regeneration hailed as beacon of conservation

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THE £1.5m transformation of a former Leeds textile mill has been hailed as an exemplar of repurposing industrial buildings in a bid to galvanise owners of similar properties into action.

Heritage England says the north’s historic mills, “the original Northern Powerhouse”, are disappearing fast and should be at the centre of regeneration.

CASTLETON MILLS:  Since being bought in 2013, over �1.5m has being spent on its restoration.

CASTLETON MILLS: Since being bought in 2013, over �1.5m has being spent on its restoration.

It says hundreds of historic buildings stand empty and neglected, but there are success stories that show the potential of these “wonderful” buildings. It has highlighted Grade II-listed Castleton Mills, which sits on the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool canal at Armley, which has undergone a £1.5m regeneration programme since being bought by businessman Dirk Mischendahl in 2013.

Built in 1836, the former flax mill had become office space in the 1990s, but was almost empty and in a state of disrepair when it was taken on by Mr Mischendahl, who had previously been involved in the transformation of the former Tetley Brewery. After an extensive restoration, it was repurposed as work spaces for creative industries.

Building and community manager at Castleton Mills, Sue Jennings said: “The owners are passionate about restoring the mill and retaining as many original features as possible - including the distinctive chimney. It needed a huge amount of work and around £70,000 alone has been recently invested in restoring it.

“The chimney doesn’t have any commercial value, but it is an iconic sight along the canal, so it was important to us to retain it for future generations.”

Historic England’s planning director in the North West, Catherine Dewar said: “Mills have so much to offer in terms of space, character and identity.

“By shining a light on successful regeneration projects, we hope to inspire others to recognise the potential of our former industrial buildings and start a conversation about their future.”