Kirkstall: Abbey Mills bid hit by Lottery blow

29 May 2017

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

The proposals are part of a wider plan to create a 200-acre urban park in the Kirkstall Valley.





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Dan says:

Why don’t you run a competition for your readers to find the best ideas for what to do there?

Dan says:

May I enquire of the demographics of your readership?
What is your circulation and how representative is it of the population of West Leeds?
How many of them care what happens to the site in question?
I would assume a significant proportion and I’d be interested to know what they would like to see happening there.

It is intended to be a community benefit, and West Leeds looks to be a good community to start on.

westleedslife says:

Hi Dan,

In May so far we’ve had 21,111 users creating 71,699 page views according to Google Analytics. 25% are aged 35-44 and 22% are 25-34. Since we launched just under two years ago we’ve had 294,721 users generating 1.256 million page impressions. Not sure how that helps, but happy to share and be open.

As for how many of them care about the mill site – that’s something I can’t possibly answer. Always happy for people to make guest contributions to the site or to post comments …

Sally brown says:

Part of the problem with this appeal – along with the Cardy Arms appeal down the road – was that the bar was set too high (if you’ll pardon the pun) . I’d have loved to have gotten involved with both but donating £20 was a lot of money to me, never mind three figure sums. You shouldn’t feel priced out of appeals that are taking well-loved community assets into community ownership.

Dan says:

Thanks for your reply WDL. Looks like a fairly good readership.
Is there any prospect you could run a poll on the question?

Sally, I know what you are saying there and I am in a similar boat. However, in theory at least, if you buy a £10 share, then it’s an investment not a donation.
Of course, that doesn’t help at all if your electricity has run out today.

I cannot comment on the Cardi, but I am confident there will be cost free opportunities to get involved with KVDT…

Which leads me to wonder how many more there are like Sally, who want to get involved, just not in financial terms?
If we can somehow gauge that then it adds to the potential value of the Trust’s bid…

westleedslife says:

Yes, Dan, could run a poll. Any ideas what options we could give people to vote on?

Dan says:

Just as a suggestion, how about something like:
“Do you care what develops in the Kirkstall Valley?
a) Not in the slightest.
b) Don’t care as long it’s not .
c) It should be left to nature.
d) I’d like to see improvements.
e) I’m really keen, and I’d like to see…”