Fashion brand Burberry has pulled the plug on its plans for a major manufacturing site in the South Bank area of Leeds.
The brand confirmed this week that they are to sell 10 acres of land beside the Grade I-listed Temple Works flax mill in Holbeck.
They have decided the site is not suitable for their development plans, which had originally included a state-of-the-art manufacturing and weaving facility for the iconic Burberry trench coats.
The luxury brand announced back in 2015 that they were considering converting Temple Works itself into a flagship factory with 1,000 staff, but by 2017 confirmed they had allowed their development option on the building to lapse. They retained their interest in the adjacent land package, but the latest announcement brings an end to the prospect of Burberry anchoring the South Bank regeneration project.
Burberry opened a business support services office on Queen Street in the city centre in 2017, and around 400 staff are now based there. There are also manufacturing sites in Castleford and Keighley - which would have been consolidated into the proposed South Bank factory - and these will remain in operation.
Burberry's chief operation and financial officer Julie Brown said:-
“We can confirm that we have decided to sell the land we own in central Leeds.
“After a detailed review, we concluded that the site is not suitable to support our plans.
“We remain committed to Yorkshire and the UK, and as part of this we will continue to invest in our existing manufacturing operations in Castleford and Keighley, home to our iconic Burberry Heritage trench coat.
“We will also continue to grow our shared services centre in Leeds, which opened in 2017.”
Burberry said the decision has nothing to do with Brexit.
What next for Temple Works?
Temple Works was built in the 1830s in an Egyptian style and was one of the most technologically advanced flax mills in the world. It later became a clothing factory but has been abandoned and derelict for over a decade since the last occupants, Kays catalogue company, left in 2004.
The good news is that the iconic building already has a new owner - developer CEG purchased it at auction for just £1 in 2018 and have already invested £1.5million in it.
They're the same firm who brought the Kirkstall Forge development to fruition, and although they admit the project is a 'blank canvas' at the moment, with few indications of what the building might become, they're committed to restoring it.
Leeds Civic Trust were delighted with CEG's decision to buy, and spoke of their hope that Temple Works would become the centrepiece of the rejuvenated South Bank area.
However, it's not thought any developers have so far shown interest in the 10-acre parcel of land next to it that Burberry have put up for sale.
What are the plans for the South Bank?
The area of Holbeck south of Leeds Station is earmarked for major investment and regeneration schemes. Several development sites will become apartments, offices, retail units and even an urban park. These are all of the developments set to change the face of this former industrial quarter.