Council set to sell listed Holbeck Engine House

Senior Councillors will discuss the future of the Engine House, a Grade II listed building in the centre of the Tower Works complex in Holbeck, which is currently being redeveloped for private rented housing.

Plans to sell the building to the developer of the wider site will be discussed at next week’s Executive Board (19 April 2023).

Tower Works, named after its three distinctive Italianate chimneys, was built in the nineteenth century as an engineering factory supplying carding and combing pins for the textile industry. The Engine House was built in 1899. The site is at the junction of Water Lane and Globe Road in Holbeck.

The report describes the building thus:

“The building itself is formed by three connected bays or sections; these were known as the Engine House, Boiler House and Economiser House. The ‘Engine House’ section has a decorative finish to include mosaic tiles to part of the floor and glazed brick walls with round arch recesses decorated with moulded circular plaques depicting notable industrialists of the time. With the survival of some internal machinery and fittings, fine craftsmanship and rich detailing the building represents a fine example of its type and is of significance in illustrating the historic functions and processes at Tower Works.”

As we reported at the time, the current redevelopment, which started construction in February 2021, will see 245 flats built in two buildings.

The Council had planned to hold onto the Engine House and develop it as a post-production facility for the burgeoning media industry in the city. However, the report to the Executive Board says this option presents the highest risk, given the Council’s current financial situation.

The commercial development of the Engine House is not viable without subsidy, but the Council holds a heritage grant of £1.1m which is ringfenced to the Engine House project. This goes back to when the Council took ownership of the Engine House and the three towers from the Government’s Homes & Communities Agency (now called Homes England).

The report recommends selling the building directly to the Legal & General fund which owns the rest of the site, at market value and giving them the heritage grant.

You can read the full report by clicking here.


All photos taken in 2016 and included in the report to Executive Board


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