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British Library North set to be housed in abandoned Leeds Temple Works

Temple Works in Leeds
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Leeds’ Grade I-listed Temple Works has been earmarked as a potential new space for British Library North

Former redevelopment plans for the decaying Egyptian-styled former flax mill backed by clothing manufacturer Burberry and designed by Stanton Williams were abandoned three years ago.

Last week chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in his budget he was giving £25 million towards the project as part of the West Yorkshire Devolution deal. A further £95 million has been made available for the British Library to invest in the ’renewal’ of its existing Boston Spa site. 

The Temple Works scheme is understood to be at the viability stage, with no architect yet appointed.

Burberry let its option lapse on the Temple Works in summer 2017, prompting its then owners – the billionaire Barclay brothers – to put the building up for auction. However, a day before the auction developer CEG, which owns other plots around the mill, stepped in to snap up the historic landmark.

According to SAVE Britain’s Heritage, the crumbling mill, which partially collapsed in 2009, had been threatened with the wrecking ball. Its previous owners received engineering assessments which concluded ’that demolition was the only option’.

But the campaign group commissioned its own survey of the two-acre weaving shed by conservation engineers The Morton Partnership, which suggested the mill could be rescued.

Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said: ’[The engineers] suggested a means of strengthening the tie beams and stabilising the structure, which could ensure its structural retention.’

Binney said SAVE had worked with CEG to secure a viable future for the mill, which he described as ‘a glorious piece of Egyptian Revival architecture which Napoleon Bonaparte himself would have saluted’.

David Hodgson, head of strategic development at CEG, said: ’[We] look forward to further collaborative working with the council and the British Library as we continue exploring the future potential of Temple Works.

‘CEG has gained a detailed understanding of this iconic building over the past two years, and we plan to build on the engagement and consultation activities we have already started with the local community and other stakeholders to ensure the proposals are truly inclusive.’

Meanwhile, CEG has announced that work on the first phase of its nearby £350 million development at Globe Road on Leeds’ South Bank will start on site at the end of the month.

Known as Globe Point, the seven story flatiron-shaped building by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios is being branded as the ’only speculative new build office [due to] complete in Leeds City Centre in 2021’.

Temple flat iron cgi

APPROVED APRIL 2018: View of Globe Point within Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio’s £350million South Bank plans. Detailed plans were submitted for Globe Point as part of the larger hybrid planning application lodged in October 2017. The proposed 40-storey G

Start on site March 2020: View of Globe Point within Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio’s £350million South Bank plans - approved in April 2018. Detailed plans were submitted for Globe Point as part of the larger hybrid planning application lodged in October 2017. The proposed 40-storey Globe Waterside tower shown in background.

 

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