A building which once powered a key part of Leeds during the industrial revolution is set to bring a new spark to one of the biggest regeneration schemes in Europe as it is brought back into use for the TV and film sector.
The Engine House, located in the South Bank of Leeds was formerly used as a power source for Tower Works, the building responsible for developing the wool combing machines on which the pin-making business was formed.
Leeds City Council is now seeking expressions of interest from film and television post-production companies to take a lease on the grade two listed property and then work with the successful organisation to bring the property back into use.
The desire for the building to have a creative or media type use comes on the back of Channel 4 announcing earlier this year that it will re-locate its headquarters to Leeds. Following two temporary locations, Channel 4 is set to move into The Majestic, a well-known former night-club which is currently being converted into offices.
The building retains a large part of the city’s heritage as ten medallions adorn the walls depicting significant contributors to the industrial revolution. A number of interconnecting rooms make up this historic building with the actual Engine House, Economiser Room and Boiler House, all making up a great space for new facilities.
The South Bank is already home to more than 500 creative and digital businesses along with a number of award winning independents and is seeing new businesses relocate to the area.
The Engine House is part of the ambitious development plans surrounding the South Bank, which include doubling the size of the city centre and bringing thousands of new homes and jobs to Leeds as well as a new city park.
In the near future the council will commit significant funding, which has already been secured externally, to refurbish the internal and external fabric of the building, along with developing services such as power, data, water, drainage, heating and ventilation and then will work with the successful applicant to develop the rest of the building.
Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “It’s fantastic to be able to bring such a historically important building in Leeds back into use and provide this new opportunity to the TV and film sector.
“With this ever growing sector and with Channel 4 coming to the city later this year, we are keen to support and work with companies to open up opportunities to help businesses work and expand within the city with the right spaces.
“The regeneration of the South Bank of Leeds brings ambition and opportunity together in an area which is moving forward apace with the new City Park plans and the start of builds on over a thousand new homes."
The Tower Works site is now largely cleared and poised to be redeveloped by Richardson to provide a mix of residential and commercial spaces next to to the Engine house and next to that site a major redevelopment is already underway with new commercial and residential opportunities being built. Contractors, Sir Robert McAlpine are currently constructing 250 residential flats.
The regeneration of South Bank refers to a number of investments and proposed activities aimed at regenerating 253 hectares of land that lies south of the River Aire.
Equivalent to 350 football pitches in size, the regeneration will help to double the size of Leeds city centre and provide more than 35,000 jobs and 8,000 homes.
It is one of the largest city centre regeneration initiatives in Europe.
Sally Joynson, Chief Executive at Screen Yorkshire said:‘’The independent production sector in Yorkshire has never been healthier following ten years of unprecedented growth. and we are thrilled that Leeds City Council has recognised the important contribution that enhanced post-production facilities can make to continued development of the sector.’’