Industrial campus to be cleared for a new suburb:
Not the grandest of Yorkshire’s mills, this dark red brick complex of north-light buildings, houses, and mills is to be cleared for a very dull volume house build in this rural location in between the cities of Leeds and Bradford.
A heritage-led masterplan would see the terraced houses retained, and all the two-story elements utilised as a nucleus from which to design the rest of the site. No such vision from the architects that have put together this layout, which suffers from the usual standardised highway widths, corner radii, and housing types.
Even the retention of the road layout would at least leave a token allsuion to the site’s history. And always worth a mention is the incredble waste of embedded carbon which could be saved if the buildings were rennovated and not demolished.
Dilapidated north-light mill complex in Leeds to be cleared:
These are the demolitions that hurt the most, because as soon as I see the notice go into the planning portal, I know there is no hope. A messy, composite industrial building, in an area of low value, outside of any regeneration framework. The odds are firmly against buildings like these.
The frontage above which seamlessly transitions from domestic architecture to the end of the northlight factory floor is the stuff of dreams for the purveyors of industrial-chic, such as Urban Splash. If I was the planner I’d make sure this fade was retained and some high quality public realm secured to the front of this elevation to complement it.
Most people think these forges and factories are dirty old Leeds, that need to be expunged. I see a robustly designed building that maximises the industrial output of such a small plot, and creates a frontage to the road that is geometrically absurd, and unique. The shapes and textures you see above will never be replicated in industrial architecture again.
For years this factory operated as Blakeys Iron Works, producing boot potectors, of all things. Amazingly these ‘segs’ (as they are known) continue to me manufactured in Walsall. I’m sure Armley is still full of the workers who would have passed through these gates each day. Go have a wander down there before February 9th, before its gone.
Application to see off the last of the Hoyl Ing mills in Huddersfield:
Operating until 2007, this was one of West Yorkshire’s most persistent textile companies. Still in use for storage until 2013, much of the mill buildings were demolished following a fire, however the chimney and two of the 3 story buildings have somehow made it to 2022.
Being in a conservation area, the Council should be engaging with the developer to secure as much of the heritage asset as possible, as the industrial buildings in proximity to the residential terraces are the defining characteristic of Linthwaite’s conservation area. If this character is not respected and upheld, I fail to see the point of such a designation.
Further frustration in this instance comes from the knowledge that in 2014 far superior scheme was granted permission (shown below), which retained as much of the mill as possible, including the chimney, and generally respected the principle of the Conservation Area. The Council should therefore be in a position to refuse this new application as there is a principle of development contingent on preservation already in place. To give consent at this stage would be an inconsistency in their decision making.
The map and aerial image below show how the site has changed since 1900.
Application to clear a sit along the old industrial corridor of Kirkstall Road in Leeds:
This site has had a couple of applications approved over the years, all of which have demanded a carte blanche site for the arrival of a few residential towers, The two industrial buildings shown above are part of the dwindling industrial street frontage of Kirkstall Road, which is currently being regenerated in a very anti-urban way. A sequence of isolated towers with no conhesive form are slowly making their way along the arterial corridors of Leeds.
The Dulux decorator centre is asking for a craft ale taproom (Kirkstall Brewery across the road, hint hint), and the street art on the film studio building is an indicator of the cultural presence already here. If you aren’t well versed on modes of heritage led-regeneraton, and don’t understand the value sense-of-place, you are not a very talented urbanist.
A new urban quarter that could be Leeds’ Brooklyn, is likely to become Brookside; buildings clad in the same material, with the same architecture, with absolutely no relationship to the existing context or the indsutrial history.
Application to clear a site just outside of Hebden Bridge, Calderdale:
Between Hebden Bridge and Mytholm is a valley which has not changed in 150 years. Having cycled down the canal here many times, I can attest to the fact that this is one of the most special places in the country. This valley up in the Pennine hills is a time machine to the industrial revolution.
Sadly Calder Mill was gutted by fire in 2019, and has been deemed unsafe (although the two main factory buildings look unscathed in my opinion) and the site is in the process of being cleared and redeveloped.
The map from circa 1900 shows the area to have been much more built up than it is now. It is a shame that this townscape is being slowly eroded.
The proposal to replacement the mill has made a noble effort at preserving the vernacular, with roofs that take their form from the mill’s north light roof. Yes the speckled stone, the relationship with the street, and the lack of any arches result in a proposal that is somewhat pastiche. Probably the best we could hope for, but another example of why it is impossible to recreate heritage buildings. Hopefully they will develop the damp green patina of the Calder Valley in the next 50 years.
Small Victorian warehouse to be cleared for housing in Morley:
Modest attractive warehouse to be lost on Station Road in Morley. Its hard to appreciate from the image but the street here is quite a dramatic scene due to the levels being so steep. The mix of stone and brick of the townscape complement the leafy green bank. Its a shame a developer couldn’t see value in converting the building to flats, as it is robust and would save a lot of carbon emissions.
Buildings like this usually don’t get a second look, but wouldn’t it be great if at pre-app, the council would encourage the reuse of the building, and make it clear huge amounts of weight in the planning balance would be given to such a scheme.
Application to clear the remaining buildings on a former mill site:
West Vale Mill, the demolition of which has been piecemeal throughout the last decade, was a stunning stone-built campus around which this village developed. The mill building, was lost a few years ago and was covered on this website. Now the last remaining vestige is to be removed.
Strangely, the mill offices pictured above are a perfectly domestic scale and aesthetic. Put some front doors on there and you’ve got a row of cottages. People still like cottages right? I imagine the developer, and possibly the planning team at Calderdale will have made a stink over the lack of adequate off-street parking, condemning this terrace to demolition.
The same can be said for the entire complex shown in the image below. I cannot think of a more perfect industrial Yorkshire townscape than the former West Vale Mill, now all gone. The market has proven time and time again that stone built industrial refurbishments outperform new builds on the market every time. People want character. These buildings did not have to be lost.
Not to mention the amount of embedded carbon that would be saved. Flattening a site and rebuilding it is hardly sustainable. No amount of locally grown broccoli from Todmorden is going to offset that.
Plans to demolish a backstreet Victorian workshop in Bradford:
This charming industrial corner site just outside of Bradford City Centre is to make way for two terraced houses, replacing the existing building on a like-for-like footprint.
The loss of the corner entrance is a shame, as are the chimneys that will no longer be a feature of this corner.
Let’s hope the new building (and specifically the conservation officers at the council) ensures that the materials of the elevations match th rest of the block.
Application to clear a site, which includes the industrial street frontage of Macaulay Street in Mabgate, Leeds:
Granted, these buildings are utilitarian industrial buildings, without any notable merit architecturally, however as the Mabgate area of Leeds is dependent on cultural regeneration, the crumbling historic tissue of the quarter is vital, particularly to anchor character and povide cues for the wave of forthcoming development.
The above is a shoe and boot foundary according to maps from the 1890s. The bracketing attached to the sofits presumably once held bold signage, and provides an interesting feature for the street. It shouldn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to see how such stock would appeal to the burgeoning student population in the area. Stick a micro brewery and tap room in there, and suddely Macaulay Street is a destination within the Mabgate mileiu.
If the buildings go, then Macauley Street will be bereft of identity, and become nothing more than an access road for the bin lorries serving the student blocks.
Its a hard sell, but retaining shabby and unardorned stock to punctuate a street front as the infil comes, is right out of Jane Jacobs’ playbook.
Demolition of Millfold House in Rotherham Town Centre:
In all honesty, no one will rue the loss of this building apart from the hardcore conservationists. Of which I am one.
Built in 1936, I am fond of this building because it represents the last wave of industrial buildings that also attempted to integrate into townscape. These workshops have a better frontage that most modern commercial buildings, which is quite a feat for the town of Rotherham. The buildings demonstrate that the lost art of industrial architecture remained with us until relatively recently.
I’d like to see this building retained because it is meaningful; it encloses an important corridor into the town centre as industry transforms into civic architecture. The building shows that there is an answer to the desolate inner-city rim that plagues post-industrial urban centres.
Props to the developer who commissioned a heritage statement for the building. I’ve seen much more important buildings reduced to rubble without such consideration.