A landmark ‘building of height’ wanted as YP site goes on sale

The Yorkshire Post Newspapers building
The Yorkshire Post Newspapers building
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THE landmark Yorkshire Post building could be turned into a hotel or office complex after being placed on the market.

The complex on Wellington Street in Leeds is up for sale, after Yorkshire Post Newspapers announced that it was moving its staff to Number 1 Leeds in Whitehall Road, later this month.

Agents at Fox Lloyd Jones said they expected to draw bids for the 4.75 acre site to a close by the end of January. It’s anticipated that any new development will lead to the demolition of all or part of the building.

Paul Fox, of Fox Lloyd Jones, said yesterday: “It is one of the best development opportunities to come to market in Leeds in recent years.

“It’s a landmark complex of buildings in a gateway position. The buildings are, however very bespoke to Yorkshire Post Newspapers’ uses, and their potential to suit alternative users may be limited.

“Marketing is just beginning, but a number of locally active developers and investors have already expressed interest. The property will be marketed on a regional and national basis, to seek out new ideas and investors.

“While all expressions of interest are invited, we feel it’s most suited to redevelopment and refurbishment.”

Mr Fox said the site could be ideal for offices or a residential scheme.

It could also be suited to redevelopment as a hotel, which would tie in with the basis of a draft development brief that Fox Lloyd Jones has been devising with Leeds City Council’s planning department.

According to Mr Fox, the council planners are keen to see a landmark development at this “key gateway to the city and would encourage a building of considerable height”.

The site could be used as a conference venue, a hospital, or a college. A major retailer might also be interested in the development, Mr Fox said.

He added: “Ultimately, the market and economics will determine the best uses, and it remains to be seen whether that will involve full or partial demolition.”

He continued: “While a short rates holiday will apply from the date of vacation by Yorkshire Post Newspapers – three months for the offices, and six months for the industrial elements – interested parties may factor these holding costs into their deliberations and viability assessments.

“The site is located within the west end of the city, in an area earmarked for and already undergoing high quality mixed use development. This site is a logical extension of the west end.

“We feel the city centre is likely to continue to grow in this direction.”

Mr Fox said a number of major firms had recently moved to the west end of Leeds, which showed it was an attractive place to live and work.

Helen Oldham, the managing director of Yorkshire Post Newspapers, said yesterday: “This is a great opportunity to acquire a site with excellent access to the city and motorway networks.

“We’ve already had a number of expressions of interest for the building itself and the land.”

The agents have not set an asking price, and Mr Fox stressed that the building was not listed.

The Yorkshire Evening Post and Yorkshire Post have been based in the purpose-built site for 42 years. Although the building’s design isn’t to everyone’s taste, it has become a landmark on the Leeds skyline.

The two newspapers moved to the building on September 28, 1970.

The £5m project was completed on a site on the banks of the River Aire and what would eventually be the inner ring road.

Previously, operations had centred around the junction of Commercial Street and Albion Street, in Leeds, where the Victorian buildings had housed the Yorkshire Conservative Newspaper Company since 1866. As the YEP and YP, they occupied the same offices for 80 years.

The architect behind the building was John Madin who, from his practice in Birmingham, created a large number of concrete structures which were typical of the architectural style of the 1960s and early 1970s.

He designed the Pebble Mill TV studios, Birmingham Central Library and the Birmingham Post building.

The latter secured him a recommendation for the YPN job.

The unashamedly modernist Yorkshire Post building was officially opened by Prince Charles in December 1970, who chatted to journalists when he toured the editorial floor.

The ingenious design saw all the editorial staff in one open-plan hall. The printing presses were based in a separate part of the complex, to ensure the sound and smells of hot metal weren’t as invasive as they had once been.