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Case Study

The Round Foundry and Marshalls Mill Estate


This complex of historic buildings is located in Holbeck, one of the cradles of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. Some of the greatest innovators of the time left behind a rich architectural legacy, exemplified by the Round Foundry and Marshalls Mill.

The Grade II Listed Round Foundry and the Grade II* Listed Marshalls Mill are former engineering foundries and flax mills dating back to the late 18th and early 19th century. Almost 200 years later, the buildings needed to find a new use for their historic environment. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, both the Round Foundry and Marshalls Mill underwent a wholesale redevelopment before reopening as contemporary office space: Marshalls Mill in 2001 and the Round Foundry in 2003. Now, they’re known for being one of the city’s best locations for creative and digital businesses, as well as the home of multiple independent bars and cafes.

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The regeneration of the wider area, often known as Holbeck Urban Village, has celebrated the culturally significant environment it is placed within, with high quality amenity including bars, cafés, pubs and restaurants set within various cobbled courtyards, retaining the distinctive character of the original industrial complex.

There’s total space of 158,000 square feet and super-fast, fibre broadband is a feature across the buildings for their resident businesses. Almost 100 companies are now located here from single person start-ups to multinationals, and some who’ve transformed from the former to the latter during their stay in the area. Flashtalking, an online advertising technology provider, started off as a one man business at the Round Foundry, and now boasts 250 employees in offices including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Sydney, Amsterdam, and of course Marshalls Mill.

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True North are another success story of the area. The independent TV production company has been based in Holbeck for almost ten years, with over 120 staff with experience of working with Channel 4 and the BBC in the production of documentaries.  In the area of brand design, world-renowned Elmwood, winner of more DBA Design Effectiveness Awards than any other agency in the history of the competition, have a home in the Round Foundry. In late 2016, Marshalls Mill became 100% let for the first time since it was refurbished in 2001, as the success of the area continues to show no signs of stopping.

The unique character of the buildings and their effective transformations into thriving 21st century business locations, serving the fastest growing sectors in the country, have contributed to a multitude of awards won by the complex and the wider area over the past 15 years:

Best Neighbourhood in UK and Ireland (Holbeck Urban Village) – Academy of Urbanism Awards 2015

Best Creative Land Use, Best Urban Centre– Yorkshire Urban Renaissance Awards 2005

Excellence in Architecture and Built Environment, Best Commercial, Industrial and Retail Use – RIBA Yorkshire White Rose Awards 2005

Project of the Year and Regeneration Award – Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Awards 2005

Best of the Best (Regional Award) – British Council for Offices Awards 2008

The regeneration of South Bank has seen the successful clustering of over 300 creative and digital businesses in the area. The continued success of the Round Foundry and Marshalls Mill, and the fact that this sector has outperformed the rest of the UK economy by as much as 32% in recent years, show that this number will only go upwards from here.

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The Round Foundry & Marshalls Mill represents one of the largest clusters of creative and digital businesses in the north of England, with the Round Foundry acting as a central growth hub for these organisations. There are now almost 100 businesses that have a presence within the development with over 1,500 working across the site. In turn the presence of these businesses has led to the establishment of a raft of independent cafés, restaurants and pubs, and will act as a further catalyst for growth for this area of South Bank.


Paul Taylor - Creative Space Management (Managers of the Round Foundry on behalf of Leeds City Council)

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