Work is now well underway on a £2 million project called Weaver’s Yard, which will transform the historic Sunny Bank Mills complex in Farsley, near Leeds.
The mills, once the home of Yorkshire Television’s Emmerdale and Heartbeat, are being regenerated by a modernisation programme which is creating working and living space for the 21st century.
Owners and directors John and William Gaunt have invested £7 million in Sunny Bank Mills during the past ten years to regenerate the 10-acre site.
Now the central part of the estate is being remodelled to create open spaces and to re-establish the prominence of historic mill buildings. The main contractor is Leeds-based CBM Construction and the work is scheduled to be completed this summer.
William Gaunt explained: “We have already created 355 jobs at Sunny Bank Mills, with more than 80 companies on site. This new phase, which will be developed over the next few years, will ultimately create many more and regenerate these lovely old buildings.
“The remodelling of the heart of Sunny Banks Mills will ensure that the mill woodland is protected, while mill ponds will provide fantastic amenity space for everyone who lives and works here,” he explained. “It will also provide 95 more parking spaces.”
John Gaunt added: “We have embarked on an exciting new stage of the regeneration of Sunny Bank Mills by selectively demolishing some commercially unviable buildings, totalling 65,000 sq ft, in the heart of the site. This is the biggest and most ambitious exciting development yet at Sunny Bank Mills.
“It is allowing us to restore and develop some of the most important buildings at Sunny Banks Mills, such as the Old Woollen Mill, the oldest building on site, dating back to 1829, which will become a significant cultural hub. It was hemmed in on all sides. This is also enabling us to restore other buildings on site, including The Twisting Gallery and The Old Dyehouse.
“Importantly, Weaver’s Yard will feature 5,000 sq ft of green space at the heart of the mill, effectively creating an amphitheatre that can be used for outdoor performances and break out space for the occupiers, tenants and visitors of Sunny Bank Mills”.
Rachel Slater of Leeds architects KPP, who have masterminded this transformation, explained: “Breaking through the defensive Town Street facade between the Festoon Rooms and the 1912 Mill is revealing views towards Weaver’s Yard and the north-light roofs of Red Lane Mill.
“Meanwhile the demolition of the infill weaving sheds is exposing facades the original mill buildings not seen for over 80 years.
“The area resulting from the demolition is delivering an open space at the heart of the mill complex, providing much needed connectivity across the site, from the Woodland car park to the Old Combing; and Red Lane Mill to the 1912 Mill.”
Mike Haigh of Leeds-based property consultants Dove Haigh Phillips, who are joint marketing agents of the site with the Leeds office of JLL, said that this was one of the most significant mill regeneration projects currently being undertaken in Yorkshire.