ONE of the country’s oldest and most influential legal organisations is leaving its iconic home in the heart of the retail sector in Leeds in a deal which will secure its future and bring a major restaurant chain to the city.
The Leeds Law Society has been based at 1 Albion Place for almost 100 years, but has agreed a 20-year lease at more modern and suitable premises in Wellington Street.
The society has agreed a long-term lease on Albion Place with the Bill’s restaurant chain, which will see the Grade II listed building transformed into a restaurant in the heart of the city’s leisure and retail district.
The deal means the building will be preserved as an asset for the society, which hopes the move to new premises will allow it to deliver more services to its members and have a greater impact when campaigning on key issues affecting the profession.
The society says its members needs are changing, and the move to Wellington Street will put it at the centre of the professional services district.
Leeds Law Society president Philip Jordan, a partner at Ward Hadaway, said: “The legal profession has changed dramatically and the result is that 1 Albion Place is no longer suitable for meeting the evolving needs of our members.
“We are unable to use the majority of the space and the building has become a major burden on the finances of the society.
“We are working through a three-year strategy to transform the society and make it a dynamic and relevant organisation that delivers exactly what the members need.
“This deal is all about making sure we can deliver more to our members and guarantee that we can maintain our position as one of the most influential societies in the country.
“This secures the future of the society and does so much more for our members. As well as preserving this much-loved asset, it will support the city’s strategy for creating a vibrant leisure and retail destination that connects Trinity Leeds and the new Victoria Gate development.”
The new premises will allow the society to host meetings and events for members and free up funding for a wider range of external seminars and networking events.
Bill’s restaurants offer contemporary European cuisine, serving food from breakfast through to evening meals. The group is renowned for securing unique and interesting properties. The owners want to preserve the existing character of 1 Albion Place and a planning application for the conversion of the 5,600 sq ft building has been submitted.
A spokesperson for Bill’s said: “1 Albion Place is an iconic building and has a rich heritage as the beating heart of the legal profession in the region.
“It’s that heritage and character that attracted us to it and we will be preserving the building and celebrating its history as we give it a new lease of life as a major new leisure destination in the heart of Leeds.”
The Leeds Law Society was advised by law firm Irwin Mitchell and commercial property agency WSB on the deal.
Mr Jordan said: “Bill’s are making a significant investment and they will be the perfect custodians of 1 Albion Place over the coming years.
“It continues to be one of our most important assets.”