Leeds Civic Trust chief's plea to safeguard city's heritage

THE director of Leeds Civic Trust is appealing to the owners of the city's listed buildings to do all they can to safeguard the the city's heritage.
Temple Mill at HolbeckTemple Mill at Holbeck
Temple Mill at Holbeck

Martin Hamilton spoke out after new research revealed more than 100 listed buildings in Leeds have been judged as being “at risk."

Leeds City Council’s at risk buildings register lists 113 grade I and II listed buildings in the city that are in danger of falling into “neglect and decay”.

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Landmark buildings Temple Mill in Holbeck and The First White Cloth Hall in Kirkgate are included in the list.

A report set to go before Leeds City Council's joint plans panel next week adds that 15 of these buildings are owned by Leeds City Council, and that this is a “disproportionate number”.

The report states: “The 2019 Buildings at Risk Register lists the 113 listed buildings known to be at risk, accounting for 4.4 per cent of the total of listed buildings in the city.

“There has been a net decrease of five Building (sic) at Risk since 2018. However, the number of Buildings at Risk owned by the City Council (15) has not changed."

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Mr Hamilton said: “Whilst we are pleased that there has been a small decrease in the number of buildings at risk in the last 12 month, progress remains slow.

"We would appeal to all owners of listed buildings to do what they can to ensure that the city’s heritage is secured for future generations."

He added: “There is good news however. The conversion of Victoria and Hunslet Mills into flats and the work being done by the new owners of Temple Works to secure this iconic building sets an example for others to follow.”

The report to Leeds City Council's joint plans panel adds: "Buildings at Risk within the civic estate are more challenging given the constraints on the council budget.

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“But progress has been made with the allocation of nearly £6m over a three-year period towards the repair of council-owned heritage buildings.”

The report spoke of the so-called “big three” sites on the list – First White Cloth Hall, Victoria and Hunslet Mills, and Temple Works – as having “significant regeneration potential”, and that two of these were currently being refurbished and expected to be completed next year.

It added that regeneration work was also taking place on the Cookridge Hospital, Highroyds Hospital and Chapel Allerton Hospital sites.

The document concluded: “The Council is actively involved with the majority of Buildings at Risk which has resulted in eight listed buildings being repaired and brought back into use since the last report in 2018. Intervention by the Council is being prioritised with a focus on the “Big Three” where significant progress has been made.

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“The number of Council-owned Buildings at Risk has largely remained the same as 2018, but disposal of several properties should show a marked reduction by the next report in 2020.”

The report is set to be discussed at the authority’s joint plans panel on Thursday, November 14.