Halifax Piece Mill, West Yorkshire

Piece Mill in Halifax is a University Business Centre in a converted historic textile warehouse, offering co-working space for small businesses and support for start-up companies. Located in the Halifax Town Centre Conservation Area, next to the recently renovated Piece Hall, a multi-award winning and iconic Grade I listed cloth hall, its redevelopment was the result of a collaboration of civic leaders, university and private developer who identified an opportunity to maximise the benefit of the investment in the wider historic area.

What’s special about the Piece Mill?

Typical of West Yorkshire textile industry warehouses built in local ashlar stone, the building is characteristic of the late 19th century and early 20th century architecture influenced by the industrial and commercial confidence of the time, and makes an important contribution to the character of the area, and the wider townscape.

Architectural detailing on the entrance to Piece Mill
Architectural detailing on the entrance to Piece Mill © Leeds Beckett University

From inside the building, the new offices enjoy exclusive views across the Piece Hall square and stunning views to the nearby hillsides that are so characteristic of Halifax.

From warehouse to business incubator

The developer, Gilmark Properties, acquired a long term lease on the building for residential conversion around seven years ago when work on the Piece Hall had stalled briefly. As funding for work on the Piece Hall came through and Calderdale Council increased support for business growth in the area, plans for the mill changed.

Leeds Beckett University were looking for a regional hub for growth businesses less than three years old needing support in terms of space and advice. Their aim was to help early stage and small businesses to grow across Halifax. Working with Calderdale Council the historic mill building was identified and Calderdale Council contributed £150,000 towards fit-out costs.

The centre now offers open-plan, affordable office and meeting space from 100 sq. ft. up to 12,000 sq. ft. Part of the offer is a range of business support functions including one-to-one support on topics like human resource matters, finance planning, digital marketing as well as networking events and membership to Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Directors, among others.

Historic features give character to the shared workspace
Historic features give character to the shared workspace © Leeds Beckett University

Location of the building was a key determinant for Leeds Beckett University. The proximity to the train station and the investment in the area, including the creation of a gigabit corridor throughout Calderdale which meant that the building had unlimited bandwidth, were both key. While the University considered a more modern building, the character that the historic mill conversion provides to the work space is an element that has also proved desirable.

Piece of machinery still visible in ceiling
Evidence of the building’s earlier uses are retained to give character and interest © Leeds Beckett University

Piece Mill is marketed as ‘High-tech meets heritage’ in recognition of the appeal of the history and architecture of the building as a base for business.

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