Leeds City Council is in negotiations to buy one of the city’s most important old buildings, the First White Cloth Hall in Lower Kirkgate.
Opened in 1711, the Grade II listed building is in a “seriously dilapidated condition”, but current owners City Fusion can’t raise their part of the £2.1m needed to carry out the substantial repairs needed, says a council report.
City Fusion are prepared to transfer the property to the council, so talks are getting under way to work out how that can be achieved.
“As the building that initiated Leeds’ regional pre-eminence the First White Cloth Hall has significant historic value … The preservation of the building is essential due to its historical importance and its potential role in kick starting other regeneration within Lower Kirkgate,” the report says.
The west wing of the hall was demolished in 2011 after a next door building collapsed.
“What remains of the building is currently stable but is unlikely to remain so over the next five years without further intervention,” the report says.
If a deal with City Fusion is agreed, the council would have to borrow £1.4m to carry out the refurbishment of the building and rebuild its west wing. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already pledged £500,000 for the work and an application for £250,000 from English Heritage is in the pipeline.
The borrowing would be financed by renting out retail space on the ground floor of the refurbished building and offices on the first floor.