Ambitious plans which will create 600 jobs at the Sunny Bank Mills complex in Farsley, near Leeds, have been given the go-ahead by Leeds City Council.
The historic mill complex, once the home of Emmerdale and Heartbeat, is being transformed by a high-quality regeneration programme to create inspirational working and living space for the 21st century.
Owners and directors John and William Gaunt have invested £4 million in Sunny Bank Mills during the past six years to regenerate the 10-acre site and to reclaim its status as the prime employer in Farsley.
Now Leeds planners have given the go-ahead to the multi-million pound remodelling and regeneration of the rest of the Mill estate, which comprises 210,000 sq ft of mixed-use development and space for 600 sustainable jobs.
John Gaunt explained: “The decision by Leeds planners to support this new phase of regeneration is tremendous news, not just for us, but for the economy of Farsley, Pudsey and the surrounding area. It’s exciting for the village and it’s a huge privilege for us.
“We have already created 250 jobs at Sunny Bank Mills, with more than 50 companies on site. This next phase, which will be developed over the next few years, will create many more and regenerate these lovely old buildings. We now have the flexibility, the time and the confidence to deliver a sustainable future for Sunny Bank Mills.
“The 210,000 sq ft of development will comprise 65,000 sq ft of new build and 145,000 sq ft of regenerated mill buildings, where we will see living space as well as office, retail and leisure. The mill woodland has been protected and the remodelled mill ponds will provide fantastic amenity space for everyone who lives and works here,” he explained.
William Gaunt explained: “We believe very strongly that we must preserve the legacy of Sunny Bank Mills for future generations. We are wholly our committed to the site and to the Farsley community, encouraging the community to become involved in what we are doing here.
“We have retained and refurbished existing historic buildings such as Sandsgate, the Mending Rooms and the 1912 Mill, where Yorkshire Television filmed Emmerdale and Heartbeat, to create new jobs and make Sunny Bank Mills the economic powerhouse of Farsley once again.
“I think the pedigree of business which has relocated here already reflects the quality of the refurbishments being undertaken and that even in a challenging commercial property market, Sunny Bank Mills and Farsley can succeed in its mission of being a creative space for business,” he explained.
Richard Bean of the Leeds office of property consultants JLL who are joint marketing agents of the site with Dove Haigh Phillips, said that this was one of the most significant mill regeneration projects currently being undertaken in Yorkshire.
He commented: “This is a genuinely exciting development. Steeped in history and with massive potential, Sunny Bank Mills is becoming one of the prime business locations in the West Leeds area. The lettings so far underline this.
“The mix of historic buildings with first-class modern business facilities is a winning combination, whilst the location, in between Leeds and Bradford, close to Yorkshire’s superb motorway network, one mile from the nearest station and just five miles from Leeds- Bradford Airport, is perfect,” he said.
William Gaunt added: “We would like to thank all our partners who have been involved in this long road to achieving this planning permission, notably Kilmartin, Ploughman & Partners Architects, Dove Haigh Philips property consultants and of course, the Leeds City Planning team.
“Ultimately we are the guardians of this exceptional site. Whilst it has a tremendous history, we must look to the future. This is a labour of love and we are very conscious of the need to get it right, not just for us, but also for Farsley and future generations.”