Work has started on an ambitious £1.2million project that will see a redundant fire station in Leeds transformed into a state of the art, multi-purpose community centre.
Gipton Fire Station originally opened in 1937 and was West Yorkshire’s oldest operational fire station when it closed at the end of 2015, with its services relocated to Killingbeck. The landmark building is now owned by GFS Community Enterprise, which is part of Leeds Community Foundation, and planning permission was granted last year for the transformation project, designed by Brewster Bye Architects. Jonathan Morgan from Morgans City Living, who is a trustee of Leeds Community Foundation is also advising on the development.
Initial enabling works are now complete and York based contractor Simpson has started work converting and extending the building. The cost of the project is being part funded by Jimbo’s Fund, which was established by the late Leeds businessman and philanthropist Jimi Heselden, who died six years ago.
Sally-Anne Greenfield, chief executive at Leeds Community Foundation, says: “A great deal of planning has gone into this project and we’re delighted to see work starting on site. This centre can become the heart of the local community providing a sustainable, secure and accessible space, as well as being a lasting legacy to Jimi Heselden.”
Gareth Jackson, an associate at Brewster Bye Architects, says: “This is a fantastic project to be involved with that is breathing new life into a stunning building that has played an important role in Gipton and its surrounding area for almost 80 years. Once complete, there’s no doubt it will continue to be a valuable asset for the area for many years to come.
“The design has enabled as much of the building’s original character as possible to be retained, so that it’s still recognisable as once being a fire station. As part of this, new secondary doors and shutters are being produced for the engine bays, which are a key feature in any fire station, and all the building’s original tiling is being restored so it remains true to its origins.”
When it opens this summer, the community centre will be occupied by six local charities and voluntary organisations including Gipton Supported Independent Living (GIPSIL), Healthwatch, Leeds United Foundation, People in Action, Space2 and Zest Health for Life.
It will also offer a wide range of services including a community café, office accommodation, a Ministry of Food teaching kitchen, an enterprise hub offering flexible workspace, as well as a variety of community spaces and meeting rooms. Externally there will be a landscaped entrance, a café garden and parking area.