Temple of Holbeck’s regeneration vision

Marshall's Mill, Leeds
Marshall's Mill, Leeds
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Getting the re-development of Temple Works right will be the thing that changes everything for Holbeck.

Coun Richard Lewis, the member for regeneration and planning at Leeds City Council, says it will be the lynch pin that ties together future development of the area and several smaller scale on-going projects all doing their bit to bring up the area.

Speaking to City Buzz he said: “Temple Works is the big one and defines that area. If something happens there it will change everything.

“If nothing happens other things will still happen but at a much slower pace as people are not quite as enthusiastic.”

But, time will tell as it emerged less than 48 hours ago that the new owners of the site are going to be Leeds based development firm CEG.

It already has several projects in the city, most notably Kirkstall Forge, and agreed terms to buy Temple Works, a former mill, before it was due to go to auction yesterday with a guide price of just £1.

Coun Lewis said: “What can I say about the Barclay Brothers (previous owners of the site)? People with huge wealth who acquire something with zero interest in their legacy.

“To put it up for auction for £1 is pure contempt with no fear for the end result.”

However, it might be that city planners can sleep easier now given news of the late deal.

Council leader Judith Blake said: “It’s a very positive step that new owners have been secured for the historic Grade One Listed Temple Works. We will look to work collaboratively with CEG to bring this important part of Leeds’ heritage back in to use and secure its long-term future.”

It could prompt movement for the stalled Tower Works which Coun Lewis says has also been frustrating.

However, there are signs of a new dawn around Holbeck at every turn.

There are plans for new homes to bring families back to the area. The population now is little more than 5,000 having been six times that when industry was booming.

One of the biggest employers in Leeds, Marshall Mill is now home to 20 creative businesses and there is a new wave of industry being led by the independents from beer brewers to architects.

Coun Lewis said: “There us all the stuff happening at South Bank and Hunslet Mills and I feel we are getting to the place where we need to be.

“At Elland Road we have got an owner taking the type of action you would expect and want and we feel we are dealing with professionals who understand where the council is coming from and it is about co-operating to achieve more. And if you look at Holbeck Moor and what the council is doing in terms of PFI, people don’t believe it is council houses. It is good quality, makes a statement and is bringing people back into the area.”

It has taken a while, probably around 40 years in reality says Coun Lewis, but it is happening. You can see new businesses, refurbished old buildings and a new demographic of people spending time and money in Holbeck.

He added: “In the early 80s there was a lot of industry disappearing, everywhere became a car park until something else happened. Big developments take forever and it is painful but all that work that has been done means it is ready for the next stage.”