British Library hopes to open site at Temple Works in Leeds

Plans to develop a new British library site for audiences and users in the North of England will take a step forward next week, as senior councillors in Leeds are asked to invest £5m in protecting and stabilising Temple Works.

The British Library hopes to use the Grade I listed building in the South Bank area for a new centre once stabilisation and investigatory work has been carried out to assess the viability of transforming the site.

The government has committed £25m to support the British Library project, which the Council hopes will drive wider regeneration in the area, delivering new homes and jobs.

Cllr James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said: ‘These plans for Temple Works reflect both a sense of pride in Leeds’s past and a real determination to forge a future that benefits people in all our local communities. Temple Works is a jewel in Leeds’s heritage crown and the prospect of seeing it start a new chapter as the home of the British Library in the North is hugely exciting.

‘The centre envisioned by the Library, CEG and ourselves would be a major cultural asset and would help drive regeneration, not just in the Temple area but across the whole of the South Bank and beyond. It would also strengthen Leeds’s presence on the national and international stage, which has already been boosted in recent times by projects such as the UK Infrastructure Bank, the arrival of Channel 4 and the new Leeds-based hub being planned by the Bank of England.’

people walking on sidewalk near buildings during daytime

Since 2019, the British Library has worked with local partners to develop a growing programme of events and activities in Leeds, ranging from exhibits at Leeds Light Night, to digital events exploring women’s rights and cookbook-themed workshops with young asylum seekers.

The Temple Works site is expected to offer a range of service including exhibitions, cultural events, schools programming, business support services and access to research collections.

Chief executive of the British Library, Roly Keating, said: ‘We have major ambitions to expand and enrich our offering to audiences across the north of England, and we are excited to have reached this key milestone in exploring the possibilities of Temple Works, both as an iconic location in its own right, and as a potential future home for the Library in Leeds.’

In related news, a digital performance, education and rehearsal venue will replace a former city pub site in Coventry.

Photo by Gary Butterfield


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