British Library Holbeck site ‘could pull in 500k visitors a year’

A new British Library facility in Holbeck could pull in an extra half a million visitors a year to Leeds, a report has claimed.

Saturday, 24th July 2021, 11:45 am

Many previous efforts to bring back the city’s historic Temple Works building into use have hit the buffers, due to the extraordinary amount of work needed.

But West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) is expected to agree next week to pump more than £5m into a scheme to help the British Library open a brand new facility in the site.

A report by WYCA officers also claims the scheme has the potential to provide 45 new jobs in the cultural sector, as well as providing apprenticeships in construction.

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Many previous efforts to bring back the city’s historic Temple Works building into use have hit the buffers, due to the extraordinary amount of work needed.

However, WYCA said the remaining cash from its £25m Temple Works fund could be used to deliver a new British Library facility elsewhere “if Temple Works becomes unviable”.

A meeting of regional council chiefs next week is expected to approve plans to spend £5m on development costs to fund “temporary stabilisation works to allow access to the building” as well as surveying and further design work.

The report added: “The second phase is subject to further approval and will request the remaining funds of £19.65m for the delivery of a new British Library facility either at Temple Works or an alternative location in Leeds if Temple Works proves unviable.”

It added: “It will create space for businesses, entrepreneurs, and has potential to attract around 500,000+ additional visitors to the Leeds City Region and have a region-wide economic impact.

“Temple Works is in one of the most deprived wards in England, and the scheme supports the priorities of the Strategic Economic Framework (SEF) to enable inclusive growth and boost productivity.”

At a Leeds City Council executive board this week, decision makers also voted in favour of the work.

The authority’s infrastructure chief Coun Helen Hayden (Lab) said: “It’s a really exciting scheme that will see the historic building be redeveloped and hopefully used by British Library North to bring the world to this part of Leeds.

“I can’t think of a better (occupier) than the British Library, who are very enthusiastic about coming to Leeds.

“People will be aware of the ongoing risk Temple Works is under and we need to facilitate the stabilisation of that building so it can be developed.”

The total cost of the works are expected to top £70m, and are not expected to be completed until 2028.

WYCA is set to meet to discuss the plans on Thursday, July 29.