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Commercial Property, Leeds

Full interior design concept for the Grade 2 listed building including a planning application and change of use. 

This project was undertaken as part of the BA Heritage Interior Design Degree. The client brief was to work with a listed building within the Leeds area that would benefit from a change of function and interior architecture services. The proposal for the property was to invigorate it and produce a contemporary interior which provided a contrast to the historical period of the building.


Properties in the Leeds area were assessed for suitability in terms of their past and current use, heritage and conversion potential.


Anyone familiar with Leeds and a child of the 80’s will recognise the chosen site which is the only thing still standing from the time when the Jolly Giant Toy Shop was THE place to visit as a kid. For everyone else who doesn’t remember the Jolly Giant, the carefully selected building was a distinct landmark when coming into Leeds by the train. Now the building is tucked away inside an extensive multi-purpose development on Wellington Street.


The building was one of four lifting towers, built around 1847, and is the only one to survive thanks to its grade II listed status.


The Grade 2 lifting tower has stood empty and has had little care or attention paid to it since it stopped operating as a truck lifting tower in the 1960’s. Work was undertaken in 2011 to ensure the property remained structurally sound and to repair damage following a particularly harsh winter but other than that it is a shell of its former self. The lifting tower did just that, its main purpose was to lift goods wagons and passenger locomotives between the upper level passenger and goods stations to the lower level goods and services yards.


When the truck lifting tower was granted its Grade II listed status in 1983 it was noted that the building was an important surviving remnant of the expansive Great Northern Railway complex which dominated the area between Wellington Street and Whitehall Road.


Whilst little remains of the truck lifting tower internally the fundamental structural elements of the property remain relatively intact. It stands as a proud and solitary reminder of the stations industrial past.


​The property is in a prime location and ideal to meet the brief. It would benefit from restoration and a change of use turning it into a unique bar with a cool urban feel to it.


Understanding the building’s history was hugely important. It helped to identify the heart and soul of the property. The décor for the building was influenced by this extensive research. The industrial trend is popular due to its raw qualities and longevity. This is a design style that is neither in vogue nor out of vogue. It has a timeless quality due to its linkage with the past and the industrial revolution and the 21st century love of hard wearing, quality and organic / industrial looking designs. Exposed stonework and wood paired with metals such as brass and copper and texture rich fabrics and materials were at the heart of the scheme. Each floor of the bar was given a different look and feel. Starting on the ground floor with a gentleman’s club, popular in Victorian times. The first floor was more of a ladies parlour and had rich tones and textures and the third floor was the workingmen’s club. Hard wearing with a truly industrial feel to it, plenty of wood and ironwork.


The project resulted in a detailed site analysis including architectural features. A report was also produced which identified the advice and permissions required for this project and who should be referred to for advice along with information on how the project would be implemented.


A design pack was produced which detailed:

  • Information on the specialist contractors required and reasons for their involvement

  • Technical drawings (internal and external elevations and sections, floor plans, lighting plans and furniture plans)

  • Schedule of works (detailed project plans for the entire project and specialist contractors)

  • Planning application, including all the requisite documentation for a listed property undergoing substantial renovation and change of use (block survey, location plan, sun study, technical drawings, heritage statement, photographic survey, design & access statement and planning application)

  • Design development from concept design, to the final schemes; presentation / mood boards, product specification and visuals.


This was a fantastic project, which required extensive building work to make the property habitable and conform to building, fire and health and safety regulations. An external stairwell and lift shaft had to be installed and the requisite planning applications and approval sought (albeit theoretical). Ensuring each floor had a distinct design style whilst working cohesively as a whole building was integral to the concept. It had to push the design boundaries whilst respecting the building’s past and listed status. Spaces needed to be created for the bar and seating areas, drinks storage, kitchen and customer and staff facilities.


There is definitely potential for this unique building to be turned into something special instead of just being a centrepiece on a regeneration site. 

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