The landmark industrial buildings – all on the Tower Works site in Holbeck – are currently owned by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), but would be transferred to council ownership if senior councillors agree to the plan at a meeting next week.
If the deal goes ahead, the buildings – the Engine House, Giotto Tower, Verona Tower and Little Chimney – would come with a “dowry” from the HCA – enough cash to enable the council to maintain three of them in perpetuity and refurbish the fourth (the Engine House) ahead of bringing it back into use.
Why does the HCA want rid?
Well, according to a report prepared for the meeting next Wednesday (13th March), the HCA wants to sell the Tower Works site, but the four listed buildings are proving to be a bit of a liability.
“Removing the buildings from the HCA Tower Works site is likely to realise redevelopment of this site sooner, as the financial viability of any redevelopment scheme will be improved and risk to the developer reduced,” the report says.
“Redevelopment of the prominent Tower Works site on the edge of Holbeck Urban Village is likely to act as a catalyst for further development in the Village. The Council can assist with reviving development activity by acquiring the buildings and de-risking the HCA Tower Works site,” it adds.
Buildings to be held in trust
That means that any challenge to next week’s decision lodged through the council’s call-in process would effectively take the deal beyond that deadline and knock it on the head. For that reason the senior councillors are being asked to agree that the decision is made exempt from the call-in process.
The size of the dowry hadn’t been agreed at the time the report was being written, but will be made known confidentially to councillors at the meeting next week.
If the deal goes through, the towers and chimney would be transferred to a Trust set up by the council with the sole purpose of preserving the buildings.
The Engine House, which could be of commercial interest, would probably only get refurbished or sold once the HCA has secured a purchaser for the Tower Works site, the report says.