Leeds City Council set to buy historic First White Cloth Hall

The First White White Cloth Hall.
The First White White Cloth Hall.
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THE FUTURE of a historic Leeds building which has become a derelict “blot on the landscape” looks set to be secured.

Members of Leeds City Council’s executive board have given the green light for the director of city development to buy the freehold of First White Cloth Hall on Kirkgate.

Councillors agreed a compulsory purchase order can be used if necessary to acquire the Kirkgate building from its present owner.

The Grade II listed building, which was built in 1711, is the cornerstone of a landmark scheme to restore the city’s oldest street to its former glory. The derelict hall has been on the Heritage at Risk Register since 1999.

Council chiefs want the building to become part of the ambitious Lower Kirkgate Townscape Heritage Initiative, which aims to transform and restore the historic street.

The council has been in negotiation with the owners for several years to secure the building’s future and successfully applied for a £1.5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help fund vital repairs.

Coun Andrew Carter, leader of the Leeds Conservative group said the hall has become a “blot on the landscape”, adding: “I think we are doing exactly the right thing to move ahead and get it sorted once and for all.”

Coun Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “I have been in discussions with the owners since 2010, In those six years the this particular building has gone nowhere. It has degenerated considerably. It is a vital part of Leeds history. We do think there is a viable scheme we can make happen.”