New owners are being sought to help preserve a historic crumbling mill complex in Kirkstall.
Abbey Mills dates back to the 19th century but owners Leeds City Council are struggling to maintain the Grade II Listed building, which could be at least partially transformed into flats.
The council is looking to dispose of the former mill complex, which is on the city’s buildings at risk register, on a long leasehold. It is proposing an ‘expressions of interest’ marketing exercise be undertaken to assess the level of interest in someone taking on the site and refurbishing it.
A council report approving the consultation said the council retaining responsibility for the site was ‘not a viable option’ due to severe budget pressures. It added:
“Abbey Mills requires a solution. Substantial investment needs to be attracted in order to establish a new sustainable use.”
The report says the site could become primarily residential, but warns of poor access from the A65:
“Residential is likely to be considered to be the principal use, as it should generate the lowest level of vehicular movements and the adjoining A65 arterial road offers good public transport links.”
The mill has been identified by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which has powers over transport, economic development and regeneration, as one of two mill sites in Leeds where business cases could be developed for funding support.
As previously reported by The Dispatch, the Kirkstall Valley Development Trust (KVDT) wants to take the complex into community ownership, with a mixed use of work, community facilities and flats proposed.
KVDT members have raised £47,000 through a community share issue to put together an initial business plan to transform the crumbling mills. The trust, which has submitted a Heritage Lottery bid, hopes to gain partial occupation of the site.
The council has also agreed an undisclosed budget to compensate the two remaining business tenants who occupy small parts of the site, should it be necessary for them to move on. The tenants remaining in situ while the site is sold also remains an option.
Financial details ‘private’
Much of the financial detail in the council report has been classed as confidential. This includes:
- A summary of a survey and associated costs of improving the building
- Details of KVDT’s interest
- Budget to compensate existing businesses on site
- Further information on existing negotiations for the site, as they relate to ‘financial or business affairs of a particular person, and of the council’. The report adds: “It is considered that whilst there may be a public interest in disclosure, much of this information will be publicly available from the Land Registry following completion of this transaction and consequently the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing this information at this point in time.”
The council report can be read in full here.
Leeds City Council has owned the site since 1965.