Wakefield Civic Quarter - plans for the former Crown Court building

​Date: 5/17/2016
Ref: PR 8228

Wakefield Council's key decision makers are set to discuss the future of the historic former Crown Court building in Wakefield.

The old Crown Court building is a key part of the Wakefield Civic Quarter. This is an important historic area of the city and its regeneration is a key priority for the Council.

The Council has already stepped in to safeguard the structure of the building and is now planning for its restoration and conversion that will create high quality development and new employment opportunities in the city centre.

The report to Council recommends carrying out repairs to the shell of the building, at an estimated cost of £1.5m, to make sure it is waterproof and weathertight. The building will then be marketed for future development.

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Skills, said: "This is a Grade II listed building and is a key part of Wakefield's heritage. We are committed to restoring this important historic building so that it can be redeveloped and brought back into use.

"Previous owners had destroyed the building to a point where it became unstable. We have stepped in to make the building safe but now we need to invest in the building's future and secure a developer to repair and restore it.

"The former Crown Court building is key to the regeneration of the civic area, especially Wood Street. By protecting this listed building, and carrying out repair works to its shell, we can help to make sure it is an attractive prospect for future development. We hope it will attract high quality redevelopment into the heart of the city, bringing with it new employment opportunities."

Kevin Trickett, President of Wakefield Civic Society, said: "The Society has been concerned about the fate of this landmark building for a long time. When we heard the original plans to convert the building into a restaurant and gallery space, we were hopeful that the building would continue to be accessible by the public and have a secure future. However, that was over 20 years ago and nothing ever came of the plan. What happened instead was that the building was allowed to deteriorate into a shocking state of repair so we were delighted when the Council stepped in to save the building.

"We now want to see a scheme that will not only lead to the building being restored and brought back into use but one that will create jobs and generate foot fall on Wood Street, thereby helping to regenerate the surrounding area."

The former Crown Court Building is a grade II* listed building and the oldest civic building in Wood Street. It was built in 1810 although was later extended. It was in use as a court building until its closure in 1992 and was sold by the HM Courts to the private sector in 1994. Despite plans to restore and convert the premises by the previous owners, little work was undertaken, resulting in the building continuing to deteriorate.

The severe deterioration of the building resulted in the building being placed on the Historic England's "at risk" register in July 2013. The Council acquired the property, made it safe and has been assessing the severity of damage and works required for repair and restoration.

The report is being discussed by Wakefield Council's Cabinet on Tuesday 24 May.