PART of a prominent textile complex is set to open for business in September – after a £6m conversion scheme to create the most modern office accommodation in Huddersfield.
And developers are convinced it will suit the needs of several companies seeking commercial premises in the town.
The 19th century Folly Hall Mills, which overlooks the river Colne at Folly Hall, is being transformed into 60,000sq ft of offices under the new name Folly Mill.
And Dewsbury-based developer Jay Tee Group reported a “very encouraging” list of enquiries for the old woollen mill, which has been empty since 1993. The Jay Tee Group bought the mill from Amco plc for more than £1m in 2005. It was previously owned by Kirklees Council.
Paul Bailey, project director, told guests at the official launch yesterday: “This is a tremendous development for Huddersfield. It will involve significant regeneration of the riverside area, creating new employment opportunities and raising the profile of the town as a major office destination.”
“Altogether, there is 60,000sq ft of prime office space over five floors, which can be leased or bought. This space can be divided into office units from 2,000sq ft upwards. We feel they will prove attractive to professional services from firms of all sizes as well as the public sector.”
He said: “The interior of Folly Mill is absolutely stunning with vaulted ceilings, spiral staircases and exposed beams. It will be a wonderful place to work.”
The first phase of the development involves converting the smaller of two riverside buildings. Office suites in the first phase will be available from September with completion in November. The second phase to revitalise the larger building will begin in the autumn.
Planning permission on the grade II listed complex includes consent for a 2,500sq ft restaurant on the ground floor, which will serve the office development and the public.
The development will also feature a new steel and glass structure linking the two stone-built mill buildings with the old engine house to create a single office building with underground parking. In total, there will be space for 200 cars.
Clr Ken Sims, cabinet member for regeneration on Kirklees Council, said the launch of the scheme was a “momentous” day for Kirklees after many years of effort to get redevelopment of the mill off the ground.
He said: “I have been a councillor for 25 years and coming into town on Lockwood Road, it has always bugged me to see such a fine building in such a state of disrepair. When I took this job in the cabinet, I vowed that my team would work to bring this building into the 21st century.”
Funding for the development has come from the Wakefield office of Swedish-owned Handelsbanken while joint letting agents for the scheme are Eddsions and Michael Steel & Co.
Handelsbanken corporate manager Angela Dowd said: “This is an iconic building, which I can’t wait to see restored to its former glory.”
Paul Andrew, head of agency at Eddisons, said: “There are a number of prestigious schemes being proposed for central Huddersfield, but Folly Mill will be the first to deliver high-quality accommodation – so full of the character that is preferred by many modern business organisations.”
Mr Michael confirmed: “There have already been a number of positive enquiries from both local and regional companies for substantial space in the scheme. Given the lack of similar high-quality office space close to the town centre, we have no doubt that this development will be extremely successful.”
Folly Hall Mills, built in 1844, stands alongside the Grosvenor casino and Mecca bingo complex close to the junction of Chapel Hill and St Thomas’ Road. The mill operated until 1982 and was renowned worldwide for the quality of its worsted cloth.
Said Mr Bailey: “The building is testimony to the textile industry and has an illustrious past. We hope to leave a fantastic legacy of our own and put Huddersfield back on the world stage supporting a world-class region.”