Warning for would-be Temple Works buyers ahead of Leeds building’s auction

Temple Works.
Temple Works.

Council bosses in Leeds have told prospective buyers of historic Temple Works that they will do everything in their power to protect one of the jewels in the city’s heritage crown.

As previously reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, the privately-owned former flax mill in Holbeck is due to be sold at auction this Thursday.

And, ahead of the sale, Leeds City Council today issued a statement in its capacity as the local planning authority.

In the statement, the council – which would handle any future planning applications for Temple Works – says it will “seek to preserve the important characteristics” of the Grade I listed building, which is in need of major refurbishment.

The council also tells potential buyers that it would “strongly resist any application to demolish” the site in part or whole.

And it says any proposals for the development of Temple Works should take into account its location within the Holbeck conservation area.

The statement also reminds would-be purchasers that the council can use “statutory enforcement powers to ensure that the building is preserved and does not deteriorate any further”.

It adds: “This could include, amongst other things, an urgent works notice which would allow the council to carry out essential repairs in default and then seek to recover the costs of the repairs from the owner.”

Reacting to the statement, Leeds Civic Trust director Martin Hamilton said it represented a clear message to bidders that they must have “deep pockets” and be prepared to do things by the book.

He went on: “In addition to any purchase price, experts think that around £2m would need to be spent quickly to stabilise the buildings, and upwards of £20m for refurbishment.

“Significantly, the council states that it has not used its enforcement powers yet, but reserves the right to do so.

“This looks like an indication that the council recognises the poor state of repair of the buildings and plans to move quickly post purchase to ensure that urgent works are carried out.”

Fashion brand Burberry at one stage had an option to transform Temple Works and nearby land into production facilities.

The scheme would have involved an overall investment of more than £50m and was expected to provide around 1,000 jobs.

But the plans were put on hold after the Brexit referendum and the building option was allowed to lapse in July.

Constructed in the 1830s, Temple Works was famously designed to resemble the Temple of Horus in the Egyptian city of Edfu.