Stonebridge Mills: Housing recommended for approval at historic site

stonebridge mills aerial
At risk: Stonebridge Mills

Major plans for converting landmark Stonebridge Mills into homes could be approved by councillors next week.

Developer Stonebridge Mills Ltd are hoping councillors will support scaled-back proposals to convert nine existing buildings into 30 homes, and build 82 new houses on the decaying mill site off Stonebridge Lane in Farnley. Some of the buildings on the site are Grade II Listed.

Members of Leeds City Council’s south and west plans panel are being recommended by council planning officers to approve in principle plans for 112 properties on the site, which dates back to the 18th century.

stonebridge mills
AT RISK: Historic Stonebridge Mills

They replace controversial proposals for 126 dwellings submitted last year which met with concern from local and national civic watchdogs over the impact on the historic site.

The new-build properties are of a modern design featuring brick and render and range from two to four bedrooms.

The latest proposals include the retention of the landmark water tower and partial retention of the Mill Pond, the cobbled streets, stone wall and copings around the Mill Pond and adjacent Listed Buildings.

They also retain internal features within the Listed Buildings such as staircases, ceiling and walls.

Proposals include the loss of 15 buildings and the retention of nine on the site. But the council’s report says most of the buildings proposed for demolition are relatively small and in a serious state of disrepair and adds the most conspicuous, larger, landmark and visible buildings within the site are proposed for conversion.

Local councillors Ann and David Blackburn (Green, Farnley & Wortley) have objected to the latest proposals, along with five further objections from residents. Concerns include the impact on wildlife and the natural environment and the loss of historic buildings on a sensitive site.

stonebridge mills
HISTORIC: Stonebridge Mills, Farnley. Photo: Google

But the council planning report concludes:

“The proposal offers an opportunity for the site and its Listed buildings to be preserved and brought into use after decades of being vacant and dereliction.

“It is considered the proposal has been devised to retain the best historic assets on site, while providing the opportunity to develop part of the site with new build properties to generate the necessary funds for the restoration works.

“The proposal retains the landmark chimneys, part of the mill pond and offers extensive areas of open space and landscaping, including the characterful cobbled streets. It is considered the proposal will create a unique new neighbourhood and quality, generous-sized accommodation, which respects the industrial heritage of the site and preserves the best areas of Nature Conservation and trees.”

Councillors are being asked to approve the scheme in principle and delegate to the chief planning officer for final approval, subject to the completion of a legal agreement surrounding green space maintenance and retention of Nature Area, an affordable housing clause on the sale of the 41st new-build property and a new £25,000 pedestrian crossing on Stonebridge Lane.

The four Listed buildings on the site are on the Leeds City Council’s city-wide ‘Buildings at Risk’ register.

The site had previously been earmarked as a potential Tesco Supermarket until the economic downturn.

The council report can be read in full here. The south and west plans panel meets next Thursday, April 25, in Leeds Civic Hall at 1pm.

Read West Leeds Dispatch‘s long-running coverage of the site here.


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