For the past thirty years, Mabgate has been home to textile manufacturing company Cohen and Wilks, but in 2020, the owners made the strategic decision to move and invest in new premises elsewhere – meaning this remarkable 1.5-acre site came to the market.
We knew from the outset that the location was perfect for a transformational regeneration scheme, so we acquired the land and worked with Cohen and Wilks to give them a flexible leaseback term, enabling them to remain on site while they completed the transition of the business to new premises. In fact, the acquisition of the site was the first HBD made when it relocated to its new regional base in Leeds, so it is a project that is very close to the team’s hearts.
Although the site had previously been used for industrial and warehousing purposes it really didn’t come anywhere near the current requirements for a high quality I&L scheme so we had to think afresh about the best outcome and what the future would look like at Mabgate. We knew that an affordable community residential scheme would really help meet the area’s much-needed housing demand.
Our vision for Mabgate
Mabgate will be a true regeneration scheme, turning a brownfield site in one of Leeds most deprived areas into a thriving, bustling residential community of 310 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom affordable rental apartments.
Designed by Leeds-based architect Cunniff Design, there’s local knowledge and experience in our plans, with a scheme that aims to meet all the needs of modern occupiers and will centre around a communal heart where people can work, relax and come together as a community. It already has its own distinct neighbourhood steeped in culture, the arts and music and we’ll be embracing that culture every step of the way as we bring our vision forward.
We also plan to deliver 3,500 sq ft single commercial unit on the ground floor, and 6,500 sq ft of internal amenity space with concierge, a gym, relaxation areas and co-working space. The scheme will also have an outdoor courtyard and [of green space as well as a lower garden.
Located close to St James University Hospital, Mabgate will offer real choice and accessibility for key workers based in the Leeds area, being close enough to walk to the city’s main bus and train stations.
Affordability is key. Mabgate’s rental contracts will be both affordable and flexible to ensure a better deal is available to people traditionally left behind in the housing market.
Homes will be designed to reflect the history of the site and the surrounding area’s industrial heritage and architecture.
Design features will complement the existing creative neighbourhood, and the buildings will be ‘mill-like’ in appearance, using predominantly red brick wherever possible. Of course, we will also be recycling as much of the material from the existing building during demolition to reduce as much as possible any waste going to landfill.
Investing in Leeds
Most crucial though is our vision to create something that will act as the catalyst for future investment in this growing area of Leeds. Throughout our development, we will create new jobs in construction and through the local supply chain; we will continue to build relationships and find new opportunities for those involved with the many education providers neighbouring Mabgate.
And we will continue to generate social value for the area, working with the Music and Arts Production charity MAP – an organisation supporting young people who are unable to access mainstream education, channelling their talents through art and music. Since acquiring the site, HBD has gifted the MAP team wall space where they have created a 26 ft high, vibrant mural that will stay in place until further into our redevelopment programme.
We’re also providing space to another local charity, Zarach, who are using half of the existing building as their regional hub, a location from which they distribute mattresses, beds and school clothing to those in need in the local community.
The future at Mabgate
Planning has been secured and we plan to start demolition of the existing site structures and undertake remediation and site preparation works in the coming months. We are also engaging the West Yorkshire Combined Authority who have secured £2.8m of grant funding from the Brownfield housing fund for the project, meaning that our vision for Mabgate will soon become a reality.