Friday, 8 April 2011

Plans launched to rejuvenate the oldest street in Leeds

An historical reconstruction of the First White Cloth Hall. Leeds City Council is inviting views on the future of the building. Credit: Peter Brears

Some of the 19th century properties along Lower Kirkgate

Leeds people are to be asked for their views on rejuvenating Kirkgate - the oldest street in the city.

Central to the plans to breathe new life into the area is the redevelopment of the historic First White Cloth Hall, which celebrates its 300th birthday on 22 April.

To mark the anniversary public consultation will start online that day to give people and local businesses the chance to view and comment on the draft proposals. Face to face consultation with traders, owners and shoppers takes place from 26 April to 17 May.

The council is working with the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and private property owners to achieve major improvements to the First White Cloth Hall and other properties in need of repair, refurbishment or restoration along Lower Kirkgate.

It is hoped that the hall, built in 1711 and now a Grade II* listed building, will be restored and many of the 19th Century properties along the street brought back to their former glory. Work could start on the £2.6m scheme in the summer of 2013.

First White Cloth Hall 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 what began as a cottage industry hosted in a makeshift open market.

The west wing of the hall had to be demolished earlier this year due to the collapse of the building next door. If the redevelopment plans go ahead, it is hoped the hall’s future place in the city could be secured for another 300 years.

The redevelopment of this site could potentially lead to the creation of a base for small retailers, linking in with Leeds Kirkgate Market and the recently refurbished Corn Exchange.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, 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. With the completion of the Arena and the Trinity Quarter, 2013 will be an exciting year in Leeds city centre. The rejuvenation of Kirkgate is a further exciting development that should help to create jobs and training opportunities for local people.”

Information on the consultation will be posted soon on the council’s website at Hard copies of documents relating to the scheme will be available from the Development Enquiry Centre at the Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington Street, Leeds LS2 8HD from 20 April.

Notes to editors:
First White Cloth Hall is the oldest surviving cloth hall in Yorkshire and encapsulates the story of Leeds's past. Completed in 1711, the Grade II* building was central in transforming a cottage industry into a global business, establishing Leeds as a centre for trade. Prior to its opening, deals were done in a makeshift open market on a bridge over the River Aire where traders would meet to buy and sell their wares.

After rivals in Wakefield opened a covered trading hall, Leeds merchants set to work on their own hall. The Hall grew to become the centre of the wool and cloth trade and represents an important chapter in the Leeds’ history, playing witness to the rise of the city's wealth and prosperity.

Three documents have been produced which are related to the development of the Kirkgate area, they will be made available on line and in hard copy from 22nd April. These are:
• Draft Lower Kirkgate Planning Statement, which acts as a guide for future physical development of the area;
• Draft Kirkgate Character Area Management Plan;
• Draft Kirkgate Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan, which together identify why the area is historically important and set out how its historic fabric should be looked after in years to come.
The documents have also been produced to help Leeds City Council’s bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.


For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office tel: (0113) 224 3602

Leeds team are world leaders at pioneering therapy

A Leeds City Council team which works with some of the city’s most troubled youngsters has been named the best in the world at providing a pioneering youth behaviour therapy.

At an international industry awards ceremony last month the Leeds MST (Multi-systemic therapy) team were declared ‘team of the year’, out of over 480 teams across 12 countries – from New Zealand to Iceland.

Multi-systemic therapy (MST) is an innovative therapy which helps children at risk of being taken into care or custody. It is a family and community-based treatment programme for young people with complex social, clinical and educational problems such as drug abuse, violence and social exclusion.

The ‘Whatever it Takes’ awards, organised by US based organisation MST, recognise the hard work and dedication shown by individuals and teams providing MST worldwide. The awards are given to individuals, teams or organisations that have demonstrated creative thinking, persistence and dedication to do ‘whatever it takes’ to accomplish positive outcomes for young and people and their families.

In explaining why the Leeds MST team received the ‘team of year’ accolade, Joseph Boggs, the chief executive of MST explained:
“The Leeds programme is deserving of the Whatever It Takes recognition because of their outstanding work in implementing MST in the UK over the past 18 months.

“In addition, OFSTED commented in 2009 that the Leeds team "provides excellent support to a small number of families and young people on the edge of care...with early positive outcomes, with the majority of the young people remaining safely at home after intervention." Families were interviewed by the inspectors, and one such family told them that "without MST I (Mum) would be in an asylum and all of my children would be in care." The Leeds team also has an excellent track record at collaborating with other systems in the UK, working with schools, the local police authorities, and the youth offending services, with positive reports being expressed by those systems as well. Several MST teams look to Leeds for advice and support as to how to successfully build these types of systemic collaborative relationships. The programme is a role-model to other folks as to how we want to implement MST in local communities. All of the team members and their steering committee deserve this recognition. “

Councillor Jane Dowson, executive member responsible for learning said:
“I am delighted that this team, who have worked very hard over the past three years to become experts in this pioneering therapy, have received this international recognition.

“MST has had a massive impact in Leeds in such a short space of time, especially for the families whose lives have been turned-around thanks to this dedicated team. “

Leeds is one of nine pilot sites in England since 2008 and is already making a difference to young people on the edge of care in Leeds, and their families.

The therapy-based programme, which is widely used in the USA, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, supports families by helping them make positive changes in various aspects of young people’s lives that can contribute to anti-social behaviour.

Professionals from a range of backgrounds, including psychology, social work and family therapy, are involved in providing MST to young people and their families over a three to six month period in homes, schools and community settings.

The pilot, is part of a nationwide trial which involves 700 families and is being funded by the Department of Health, Youth Justice Board and the Department for Education. It provides support to a number of families and young people in Leeds and is already showing positive outcomes, with the majority of young people remaining safely at home after intervention.

To date the Leeds MST team has worked with over 100 families city-wide, of them:

95% of families have fully engaged and completed MST;
90% of young people are living at home at the end of MST;
72% of young people have improved school attendance and behaviour; and
81% have no new arrests since MST started

On top of that the families report that at end of MST:
87% felt that they have the skills to handle any future problems; and
84% felt that they have improved family relations.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713