Detailed plans for the First White Cloth Hall revealed


A milestone in the history of the First White Cloth Hall has been reached with the submission of detailed plans for the iconic building’s future. The Hall’s revival is being led by Leeds-based property company Rushbond, working closely with Leeds City Council, Historic England and the Leeds Civic Trust. The scheme is designed by Manchester-based Buttress; a design studio with over twenty-five years of experience working on heritage buildings. Subject to approval, the aim is for work to start early in 2018.

Mark Finch, Director of the award-winning property investment and development company Rushbond, says: “The revival of the First White Cloth Hall (where commerce in Leeds first began) will be pivotal to the ongoing revival of Kirkgate — the city’s oldest street. Our approach has to be to understand and learn from its rich and fascinating history and then set a clear direction and role for this unique building to have a new and exciting future.”

A Grade II* listed building, the First White Cloth Hall is one of the most significant historical buildings in Leeds. The building’s transformation will include a rebuild of the West Wing and northern elevation, as well as the re-creation of the single, undivided assembly room space. A lightweight structure will enclose the central courtyard to reveal the building’s historic form, and a contemporarily-designed cube on the southern elevation will provide a new physical and visual link to the Corn Exchange.

Mark Finch added: “There are lots of great things happening in Kirkgate by lots of different people. The oldest street in Leeds now has new stories to tell. This is also a unique opportunity for a new occupier to help write the next chapter in the First White Cloth Hall’s story. Although the revived building will lend itself to a variety of uses, the prospect of the Hall being part of the burgeoning fashion scene in Leeds is a particularly enticing one. Arguably, it is where fashion in Leeds began!”

The story of the First White Cloth Hall started in 1711; it was built in response to the news that a covered cloth market was being planned by the merchants of Wakefield in a bid to tempt trade away from Leeds. The Hall was hugely successful, and was soon replaced by a larger facility; the Second White Cloth Hall on Meadow Lane. The First White Cloth Hall has been on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register since 1999.

Grant Prescott of Buttress, the architects behind the plans, said: “It is a privilege to be working on such an historic building. In re-establishing its historic form with the re-creation of its missing wing, the restoration of key features and the addition of sensitive and respectful new interventions, the building will provide a unique opportunity to have a major presence in the vibrant part of the city. The contemporary addition to the south also provides a strong connection to the Corn Exchange, complementing the restoration of the northern elevation onto Kirkgate itself.”

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