Leeds First White Cloth Hall: public consulted on revamp

Artist's impression of First White Cloth Hall, Leeds The First White Cloth Hall opened in Kirkgate, Leeds, on 22 April 1711

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People in Leeds are being asked for their views on the future of Yorkshire's oldest trading building as it celebrates its 300th anniversary.

The city council plans to restore the First White Cloth Hall as part of a £2.6m scheme to rejuvenate Kirkgate.

To mark the anniversary public consultation has started online to give people the chance to comment on the draft proposals.

Face-to-face consultation with traders takes place from 26 April to 17 May.

The Labour-led city council said it was working with the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and private property owners to make major improvements to the Grade II-listed cloth hall and other properties in need of restoration along Lower Kirkgate.

'Great chance'

It is hoped work on the project will start in summer 2013.

Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield said: "This is a great chance for the people of Leeds to have their say about protecting the future of the oldest street in the city.

"Generation after generation of local people have walked down, shopped and done business in this very street at the heart of our city.

"The First White Cloth Hall is a very important part of the history of Leeds and I'm delighted at plans for its restoration."

It is the oldest surviving cloth hall in Yorkshire and played a key part in transforming Leeds into a centre for international trade.

The city prospered around the growth of cloth making which began as a cottage industry hosted in a makeshift open market.

The west wing of the cloth hall had to be demolished earlier this year after the collapse of the building next door.

The council envisages the redeveloped site being a base for small retailers, linking in with Leeds Kirkgate Market and the recently refurbished Corn Exchange.

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