Sunny Bank Mills wins major Leeds architecture award

Sunny Bank Mills, the Yorkshire mill complex between Leeds and Bradford, has won a major honour in the prestigious Leeds Architecture Awards.

Sunny Bank, one of the most famous family-owned mills in Yorkshire, won the Regeneration category at a glittering ceremony at Leeds Town Hall.

The award underlined the remarkable renaissance of the Farsley mill complex, where YTV’s Emmerdale and Heartbeat were filmed.

During the past ten years Sunny Bank Mills, which has already won an array of awards, has been transformed into a modern office complex for the 21st century. It is now home to more than 70 companies, who employ a total of 355 staff.

The ex-worsted mill has also become an inspirational creative space for business, placing the arts and industrial heritage at the heart of its regeneration programme. Alongside the ambition to become a centre for employment, Sunny Bank Mills has established itself as a cultural hub for the local and wider community through its arts and heritage programmes.

William Gaunt, co-managing director of Edwin Woodhouse, the developers of the mill, commented: “It was a privilege to be alongside so many development projects celebrating the energy and dynamism of Leeds and an honour to win this prestigious award.

“Bringing Sunny Bank Mills back to life is about so much more than just the buildings, it’s about revitalizing the community, energizing the economy and putting culture at the heart of what we do. Leeds is a very exciting place at the moment, the whole city is united in its desire to regenerate itself for the digital era,” said Mr Gaunt.

Presenting the award, Hiro Aso, the internationally-renowned architect, who masterminded the new-look King’s Cross Station on London and is now advising Leeds City Council on the advent of HS2 in the city, commented: “Sunny Bank Mills has been family-owned since 1829 and is now working with the community to provide 600 jobs. Sunny Bank houses not just commercial tenants but also arts and crafts start-ups, providing support at the beginning.

“The development makes sensitive use of the existing mill buildings.  Longer term plans have an eye to the future, but with the community at its heart. The bringing together of the old with the new has been a focus for me throughout my career, and it is always inspiring to see the live efforts of passionate people, which was the take away for me from Sunny Bank,” he said.

Rachel Slater, Director of Horsforth-based architects Kilmartin Plowman and Partners, who have worked very closely with the developers, added: “We are delighted that the hard work and dedication of the Sunny Bank Mills team, to deliver employment opportunities through the regeneration of the mill buildings over the last 10 years, has been recognised.

“The emphasis on people and places at the Leeds Architectural Awards 2019 epitomises the custodian approach taken by William and John Gaunt in creating a community of diverse tenants at Sunny Bank Mills,” she added.