Redevelopment of iconic Print Hall begins

ONE of Leeds’ iconic landmarks is to be brought back to life as Leeds City College takes a step closer to the completion of its unique Printworks Campus.

Work has started on transforming one of the Grade II Listed former Alf Cooke Printhalls on Hunslet Road, which forms a centrepiece to the college’s newest campus, as part of Phase 2 of the development.

And the College has just received confirmation that its bid for funding to complete the campus has been successful. The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is to provide £9m to help finance the final Phase 3 including the restoration and conversion of the large printhall.

The current phase 2 building works will finish in time for the start of the new academic year in September 2015, with the phase 3 development to be completed over a two year period, ready for occupancy by September 2017.

Leeds City College Principal Peter Roberts said: “These are key developments for the College, the campus and the city – and the realisation of our firm commitment to providing learning and teaching facilities which are among the best in the country for students, employers and the city region.

“Once completed, our Printworks Campus will have seen the renovation of a landmark historical building, intertwined with new, 21st century architecture, housing state-of-the-art specialist vocational and general teaching facilities.”

Roger Marsh Chair of the LEP said:

“Developing a skilled and flexible workforce for our current and future employers is a core element of the LEP’s vision for the future.

“As we are home to the largest manufacturing centre in the country, I am particularly pleased we have been able to support the development of a bespoke mechanical and engineering facility which will enhance the skills and experience of our future workforce in this vital sector.”

Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“This is a wonderful building and a real industrial icon of Leeds.  Given its history housing what was one of the real frontrunners of the printing trade, I can’t think of a better use than as a centre of excellence for equipping our young people with the skills they need to support the industries of the future.  I also look forward to seeing this lovely landmark restored and enhanced for the city in a way that guarantees its own future.”

The College’s Printworks Campus opened its doors in September 2013 after an initial £26 million refurbishment of key sections of the site to create an inspirational learning environment for students, while retaining many original features.

The latest development sees the conversion of the smaller printhall into a modern and innovative teaching, learning and recreation space in this second phase of the site’s development.

The three storey building will house state-of-the-art IT and library facilities, student workspaces and flexible learning zones – and will be ready for use in May this year.

Major works will include replacing the 232m²north light glazed roof comprising approximately 150 individual panes, and knocking through into the existing campus at all three levels to link up the printhall to the adjoining building.

This phase of the wider estate transformation also focuses on the development of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) facilities at the site in the shape of a bespoke mechanical and engineering facility incorporating the college’s existing provision currently based at its South Leeds Centre. The new provision will provide access to high quality facilities to support advanced manufacturing and engineering along with motor vehicle, fabrication and welding. The area will also provide the hub for electrical and electronic engineering which will better link with future development around the creative and digital technologies curriculum.

“This latest development will provide the accommodation to further develop the curriculum and additional on-site facilities and it is going to be a really inspiring space for students, staff and visitors,” Mr Roberts said.

Construction company Sewell Group is supporting the College to deliver its estates strategy on what is the company’s first major partnership in Leeds as the business expands regionally. The firm carried out some stabilisation and enabling works in the Printhalls during the summer break in preparation.

Project Manager Mark Dodgson said: “We’re really pleased to be working in partnership with Leeds City College. Personally, being born and bred in Leeds, I am honoured to be managing the development of the Printhall – it is a once in a lifetime project.”

The former Alf Cooke’s Printworks is seen as one of the most recognisable industrial landmarks in the city. Leeds Civic Trust unveiled it 150th blue plaque at the College’s Printworks Campus in June 2014 to celebrate the history of the building, which was rebuilt in 1895 by the famous Leeds printer, Alf Cooke, as his Crown Point Printing Works.