Campaigners hoping to take a crumbling Kirkstall mill building into community use have vowed to continue their fight – despite being turned down by Lottery funders.
Members of the Kirkstall Valley Development Trust raised £47,000 through a community share issue to put together an initial business plan to transform historic Abbey Mills for community and work use.
But a bid to Heritage Lottery for £85,000 to pay for architectural and surveyor fees, project management and marketing was turned down as being too high risk by funders, but the trust has been invited to reapply for a smaller amount.
The bid would have lead to a Heritage Enterprise bid for £2 million to develop Abbey Mills.
Chris Hill, from Kirkstall Valley Development Trust, said:
“We are now going to hold on to shareholders cash until we are clearer about Leeds City Council’s intentions and will be making plans for partial occupation of Abbey Mills meantime.
“The number one priority is to win the confidence of the mill owners – the council – and at the same time develop plans for partial and temporary use of the space. We will crack on with that and shareholders will regroup in September to discuss progress.”
38 shareholders came to a meeting on May 23 and voted to keep nearly all of the shareholder cash in reserve until the trust is clearer on the council’s position on the future of the mill.
The trust will also work with the council to complete its ‘soft market testing’ exercise of Abbey Mills with the Trust as a potential partner and continue to push for the Trust having occupation rights to at least some of the building.
It’s hoped the mills, which date back to the late 18th century and have been empty for a number of years, would get a new lease of life as community facilities, a ‘Future City’ University research centre and flats.
A planning meeting will discuss how the Trust can start to use and pay for parts of the mill. The session will be guided by Irena Bauman of Bauman Lyons architects on Tuesday, 20th June, at 7.30pm in New Burley Club, Burley Hill Drive.
Although the public share offer is closed, people and businesses are still invited to invest and can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The proposals are part of a wider plan to create a 200-acre urban park in the Kirkstall Valley.