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Historic Tower Works scheme completes

Practical completion has been achieved on 245 new homes at the historic Tower Works scheme in Leeds city centre.

The magnificent Tower Works scheme in Leeds, featuring one of the original Italianate towers

The scheme, which sits alongside the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, has been built by Sir Robert McAlpine on behalf of the joint venture partnership of Ask Real Estate and Richardson, in conjunction with Homes England.

Legal & General (L&G) acquired the development in 2021, investing £57m on behalf of its Build to Rent Fund (BTR Fund) and Access Development Partnership (a joint venture between Legal & General Capital and PGGM).

L&G has funded three build to rent (BTR) schemes in Leeds to date, including Mustard Wharf – which is adjacent to the site. With the Tower Works development now complete, L&G will market both schemes as the neighbourhood of Mustard Wharf, delivering 500 homes and over 15,000 sq. ft. of commercial space.

Inside a Tower Works apartment

Designed by Ryder Architects, Tower Works features two residential buildings with studio, 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments and duplexes, ground floor commercial spaces and areas of public realm. Located to the south of the railway station, it creates a new pedestrian route through from the city centre to the Holbeck Urban Village neighbourhood.

Tower Works has achieved WiredScore Platinum certification, making it the first residential development in Leeds to attain the globally-recognised verification of infrastructure connectivity. The accreditation confirms that the properties are digitally future-proofed and have the best possible level of connectivity.

Commenting on achieving completion, John Hughes of Ask Real Estate said:

“We’ve worked in close partnership with our joint venture partner Richardson and our contractor Sir Robert McAlpine to achieve completion, taking a highly collaborative effort from the outset.

It’s a real achievement for the team to now mark the handover of this landmark residential scheme to L&G having overcome the multiple challenges of Covid, Brexit and rising construction costs.”

He continued:

“During the delivery programme we have been proud to support the city by contributing to the annual Leeds Light Night event and we’re looking forward to seeing the first residents move in this month/autumn.”

Craig Allen, Sector Director, Sir Robert McAlpine, said:

“Reaching practical completion at Tower Works represents a momentous milestone in the transformation of this historic site. It presents a wonderful opportunity to honour the remarkable efforts of the entire project team, while also celebrating the local, social and economic impact of the project.”

Dan Batterton, Head of Residential at Legal & General Investment Management, added:

“It’s fantastic to see the completion of Tower Works and open for our occupiers. Leeds is one of the UK’s largest cities in terms of population and economic output, yet supply of housing has been severely constrained over the past decade. As the largest investor and owner of build to rent in the city, we’re delighted to deliver the neighbourhood of Mustard Wharf at Tower Works, and play our part in the landmark South Bank regeneration area.”

Commenting on behalf of Homes England, Ian Hall, Senior Development Manager, North East, Yorkshire and The Humber said:

“The completion of this latest phase of Tower Works represents the fulfilment of a long-held ambition to provide a new exciting and modern chapter in the life of this historic site. We are delighted to see the delivery of high-quality homes in a landmark location which will bring economic and social benefits into this part of Holbeck and contribute to the redevelopment of the wider South Bank area of the city.”

Established in the 1860s as a steel pin factory for carding and combing in the textile industry, Tower Works closed in 1981. The neighbourhood is today home to a thriving media and technology community in the heart of the South Bank regeneration area which has become a global destination for investment, sustainable living, culture and creativity.

The Tower Works site features the three original Italianate towers: Verona; Giotto and Little Chimney, which form a distinctive focal point of the regenerated area.

The delivery team also included engineering firm WSP and project managers and QS Faithful and Gould.

More on the history of Tower Works:

Tower Works site is located within the Holbeck Conservation Area, which features a number of listed buildings across what was Leeds’ primary industrial area. The area is one of the only remaining places within Leeds where 19th Century industrial buildings have survived largely unaltered and uninterrupted, leaving a special character and appearance to the area.

Tower Works was founded on the site by T.R. Harding in 1864 to make steel pins for carding and combing in the textile industry. In addition to these items the company also developed a range of innovative and advanced industrial instruments, including speed indicators, counters, and gauges. The factory’s products were world class, selling all over the globe.

The original buildings, designed by Thomas Shaw, were erected in 1864-6, with the design being heavily influenced by his love for Italian architecture and art.

Within the Tower Works site, the Giotto Tower, Verona Tower are Grade II* listed, and the Engine House, Little Chimney, and 6-10 Globe Road are Grade II listed. The three towers are Holbeck’s most prominent landmarks and are an integral part of the area’s history and heritage.

The Grade II* listed Verona Tower can be recognised as the smaller ornate tower of the site. It was the first of Tower Works’ Italianate towers to be built and is based on the Lamberti Tower in Verona.

The Grade II* listed Giotto is recognised as the most ornate and largest of all the towers both in height and massing. It was designed as a ventilation tower and its structure contains filters that are able to collect metal particles produced during the pin making process. The Tower is based on the iconic Giotto Campanile, the bell tower of Florence’s Cathedral.

The Grade II listed Little Chimney is the latest of the towers and it is known as the Boiler House Chimney. It can be seen to represent typical Tuscan towers, such as the medieval towers in San Gimigniano, Tuscany.


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