City centre site to receive £5m grant

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The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has voted in favour of a £5m grant to stabilise Temple Works, a Grade I listed building in Leeds’s South Bank.

The decision follows a report by the Combined Authority that the project which would see the former mill which once had sheep on its roof renovated and converted into a new centre for audiences and users of the British Library in the North.

The decision by the Combined Authority which considered a report highlighting that the site could create jobs and attract half a million more visitors to the city each year, follows approval from Leeds city council’s executive board to request the release of part of the £25m funds which form part of the region’s devolution deal and were provided by Government to support the project.

During the meeting a Leeds City Council report highlighted that the building which it is estimated will cost over £70m to renovate, could be up and running by 2028 – a decade after the developer CEG acquired the site, and will create new jobs in the region.

The West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin said: “I would also like to see the opportunity for renovation in an area that has traditionally been an area of deprivation.

“It is a really exciting opportunity for Leeds. To bring in tourism and academics and to be one of the best in the country is just fantastic.”

With the British Library describing the project as “a major new public-facing centre for audiences and users in the north of England” it is expected that the investment will bolster the institutions presence in the region creating new jobs alongside those that already exist at its site in Boston Spa.

Following approval CEG will oversee the work to ensure the structure of the 1840s building is ready to be fully restored for its long-term use.

With the developer, the British Library and Leeds City Council looking to enter into a formal three-way partnership to explore the costs and practicalities of the full development of the site, and of the Library operating from Temple Works on a permanent basis.

Speaking earlier this month ahead of the decisions the British Library’s chief executive, Roly Keating, said: “We have major ambitions to expand and enrich our offering to audiences across the north of England, and we are excited to have reached this key milestone in exploring the possibilities of Temple Works, both as an iconic location in its own right, and as a potential future home for the Library in Leeds.

“Working with CEG and Leeds City Council, and in parallel with our transformation of our existing site at Boston Spa, the funding for this crucial next phase of this development will enable us to safeguard the historic fabric of the Temple Works mill, while exploring fully the scope and scale of the site’s future as part of the British Library.”

David Hodgson, head of strategic development at CEG, said: “Temple District offers a new way of living and working, with Temple Works as the cultural and innovation centrepiece.

“We are excited about today’s announcement as Temple Works continues to play a vital role in Leeds’ future economic and social well-being.”