Campaigners are hoping to take historic Abbey Mills into community ownership. Here, CHRIS HILL from the Kirkstall Valley Development Trust provides a pre-Christmas update on plans for the site.
The council’s ‘soft marketing’ finished on Friday, 15th December. Eight businesses have expressed an interest in developing Abbey Mills – four of those have been in touch with the Trust.
Of those who have discussed their ideas with the trust, three want to create flats and one a wedding venue.
We know at least one of the developers would support us in developing the community block along Abbey Road and the land to the south of it along the lines discussed at our recent public meeting (see here for proposed layout). This is the whole of Lot 1 in the Council’s marketing exercise
We would like to spend the next few weeks creating a partnership with the most suitable developer, introducing them to Trust members and making our case to the Council.
Important aspects for us:
a) Ability to create a viable community hub in the Abbey Road block on a long lease with additional land to expand our provision in later years
b) Minimum car use on site and no new road
c) Compatibility with uses of the rest of the mill
d) Building a footbridge into the retail park
Work on St Anns Mill to create our centre for sustainability (working title Sustain) goes on.
We have now talked to over 60 lecturers at the University of Leeds involved in research in energy, cities, food, water, climate change, building etc and all show an enthusiasm to use Sustain for practical and demonstration activity, working with the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) and the community.
This week we had a positive discussion with the facilities director of the University of Leeds and we will be taking our case to the Council to support us to develop a business plan for the site over 2018.
Meanwhile, the students and staff at Leeds Beckett University continue to work on the site, throwing up solutions to the buildings and flooding.
By the spring we hope a member of staff jointly sponsored by CAT and the University of Leeds will begin development work on the project.