johnston press to demolish yorkshire post buildingBack
Johnston Press have notified Leeds City Council of their intention to demolish the landmark Yorkshire Post building on Wellington Street.
The application for ‘prior approval’ sets out to establish whether the council will require more information about the method of demolition.
The five storey building has over 20,000 sq metres of floorspace, that has lain empty since the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post relocated to offices on Whitehall Road, and the printing presses moved out of the city.
The decision to demolish follows an application to English Heritage for a Certificate of Immunity, to remove the building from consideration for Listed status. It was designed from 1968-1970 by the John Madin Design Group, a company formed by John Madin, who was the architect of a number of significant buildings in the 1960s, such as the BBC’s Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham.
The Yorkshire Post building marked a change in style from Madin’s previous work towards brutalism, with simple concrete forms that express the various functions of the building as a newspaper office and printing press. It won a Bronze RIBA Yorkshire Regional award in 1971 as “an extremely successful solution to [the client’s] very complex planning problem.”
English Heritage determined in February this year that the building would not be listed, stating that due to the tight integration of the architecture with the building’s use as a printing press, the loss of that use diminished “its ability to demonstrate its original function” and has “impacted on the integrity of the building.” They also concluded that “the architecture, while striking, is not innovative and lacks coherence, making it one of John Madin’s less successful designs.”
A building appraisal commissioned by Johnston Press – and available to view here – does recognise the local significance of the building, which has been a landmark at a gateway to Leeds since 1970. It’s digital clocktower has welcomed drivers to ‘The Motorway City of the Seventies’ for over forty years, and there are bound to be mixed feelings in Leeds about the demolition of such a well-known building.
There will also be concern about this entrance to Leeds looking increasingly derelict, as the site of the old International Swimming Pool has remained empty on the other side of Wellington Street since 2010, and the fire-damaged Bridge House stands between them, despite several proposals for new buildings on the sites, such as The Spiracle at the pool and various tower designs at Bridge House.
The Demolition Statement lodged by Indigo Planning on behalf of Johnston Press, available to view on the council’s Public Access website, states that reuse of the building would be, “impractical due to various layout constraints.” It goes on to say that demolition is the first stage in the process of redeveloping the site, although no proposals for future use or redevelopment are referred to in the application.
The buildings will be demolished to the level of the concrete floor and wooden hoardings erected around the site, although an eastern boundary wall – believed to be part of the Bean Ing Mill, a building that we wrote about here – will be retained.
There are signs of progress in the area, though: MEPC’s 10 Wellington Place building is under construction a little further down Wellington Street, and a planning application has been submitted for the next two buildings at the scheme – 5 and 6 Wellington Place – that will between them provide over 20,000 sq metres of office space, with cafes at ground floor.
New plans are also expected on the site of the cancelled Lumiere towers, after Steve Parkin announced his intention to build an “iconic” office building there.
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