Major creative redevelopment deal to complete Wakefield’s Waterfront regeneration
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Wakefield could become the 'creative hub' of the North as over 100,000 sqft of derelict buildings are set to be transformed in a landmark deal, which will see the City's historic Waterfront regeneration project finally completed.
Wakefield Council has agreed the sale of the Rutland Mills site to property developers, City & Provincial Properties PLC. The developer is responsible for Tileyard Studios, a creative media hub based in central London and plans to create a 'northern extension' of this significant cultural brand.
Rutland Mills is adjacent to the site of The Hepworth Wakefield, the City's internationally acclaimed art gallery. The planned redevelopment is the final stage of a regeneration masterplan that will give 10 acres of Wakefield's historic riverside a new lease of life and see it become a significant cultural destination in the North of England.
The Leader of Wakefield Council, Cllr Peter Box CBE, said: "This is an exciting opportunity to build on the international cultural reputation of The Hepworth.
"It was essential that the final phase of the Waterfront regeneration complemented what we have already achieved in this area and I am very pleased that City & Provincial are bringing their vision, experience and creative brand to Wakefield."
The Rutland Mills site could offer the opportunity for different uses including residential, commercial, cultural, education, community and leisure. The developer has outlined a range of ideas that could potentially be considered for the site these include developing the central courtyard area with cafes or bars, small scale retail units and studios, promotion of the waterside edge and the creation of a new gateway into the site.
Paul Kempe, Director of City and Provincial Properties PLC said: "We are very excited to be chosen as the developer for the regeneration of Rutland Mills and to work alongside both Wakefield Council and The Hepworth Wakefield in turning these unique buildings into a modern day creative hub that will complement the world class facilities of The Hepworth.
"City and Provincial Properties already operate Tileyard Studios in Kings Cross London. The cluster of 74 music studios comprises one of the world's largest music facilities along with a host of other creative users.
"We will be utilising the Tileyard brand as part of the ongoing regeneration of Rutland Mills to provide a thriving creative hub which will include a host of complementary uses including residential, start up hub, event space, music education and studio complex along with cafés, bars and restaurants exploiting the waterfront facilities of Rutland Mills.
"City and Provincial Properties have been involved in a number of mixed use regeneration projects throughout the UK and will work alongside Hawkins Brown Architects to deliver this exciting opportunity."
Rutland Mills is a complex of mill buildings, believed to date back to 1872. The site has been derelict since 1999 and in 2005 formed part of the Waterfront Masterplan, which aimed to transform the area in three phases, over a fifteen year period.
Phase one was completed in 2009 with the creation of new office and work space, safeguarding over 500 jobs and the development of new affordable homes. The internationally acclaimed art gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield, opened in 2011 marking the end of phase two.
The third and final phase proved more difficult due to the economic downturn. Wakefield Council continued to market the site to ensure any future development would support and complement the vision for the Waterfront area.
Cllr Box added: "Regeneration on this scale is never easy to deliver, especially whilst enduring a global financial crisis. However, in the last seven years new homes, offices and work spaces have been built, a world renowned art gallery has been established and good quality jobs have been secured and created.
"This is testament to the strong private sector partnerships we have developed and the excellent investment opportunities Wakefield now offers.
"The Waterfront master plan clearly laid out what we wanted to achieve in this area. As well as reconstructing the appearance of the riverside we also had an ambition to transform this historic area into a vibrant, culturally rich environment.
"The Hepworth Wakefield was a major step towards achieving this and now with the shared vision and ambition of the new developer, we are about to put the final piece of the jigsaw into place."
Simon Wallis OBE, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield said: "We're delighted that the culture-led regeneration of Wakefield Waterfront will now enter an exciting new phase that builds on the gallery's success.
"We look forward to working closely with the developer to realise a shared vision for the site that has creativity at its heart and includes our plans to create a beautiful public garden situated between the two buildings. This adds substance to the ambition for creating a Northern Powerhouse in which Wakefield will play a significant part."
Wakefield Council's Cabinet formally agreed the deal and completion is conditional on the developer securing the necessary planning permission. The terms of the deal also require the developer to start the development within two years of completion. If this timetable is not met, it will trigger a buy-back option for the Council.