Plans drawn up to give new life to historic Leeds building White Cloth Hall

DETAILED plans have been submitted for the future of a famous Leeds building.

An artist's impression of how the site will look
An artist's impression of how the site will look

The First White Cloth Hall plans have been drawn up by Leeds property company Rushbond, working with Leeds City Council, Historic England and the Leeds Civic Trust.

The scheme is designed by Manchester-based Buttress and, subject to approval, the aim is for work to start early in 2018.

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Mark Finch, Director of 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.

An artist's impression of how the site will look

“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.”

The First White Cloth Hall is a Grade II* listed building. The building’s transformation will include a rebuild of the West Wing and northern elevation, as well as the recreation of an assembly room space.

A lightweight structure will enclose the central courtyard to reveal the building’s historic form, and a cube on the southern elevation will provide a link to the Corn Exchange.

Mr 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.

An artist's impression of how the site will look

“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 market was being planned in Wakefield to tempt trade from Leeds.

The Hall was 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.”

Martin Hamilton, director of Leeds Civic Trust, said: “Leeds Civic Trust has been campaigning for years for the First White Cloth Hall to be brought back to its former glory after falling into disrepair.

“We are delighted that this scheme could start on the ground early next year.”