Upper Westgate Heritage Action Zone

​The Upper Westgate Heritage Action Zone is a four year partnership between Historic England and Wakefield Council. 

This scheme will help boost tourism, culture and heritage to deliver much needed growth following recent disruptions to the local economy from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The project builds on our city’s impressive cultural reputation. It will further enhance work already carried out across Wakefield including the addition of the Hepworth Gallery and the regeneration of Merchant Gate, the County Hall area and Kirkgate Station.

The Heritage Action Zone will see us collaborate with local businesses to bring buildings back into full use, providing more places to live, work and socialise. 

About Upper Westgate 

Identified as a conservation area in 1975, Upper Westgate forms an important area of historic townscape, containing at least 30 listed buildings. 

The area has evolved over hundreds of years. You can see this through Upper Westgate’s distinctive Georgian and Victorian buildings that line it’s medieval streets, ginnels and yards. 

What is the Heritage Action Zone?

Historic Streets Heritage Action Zone is a 4 year programme, designed to bring lasting improvements to historic high streets for all those who use them. 

Funds have been distributed to 68 councils across the UK, to support sustainable, economic and cultural growth.

Wakefield has been awarded £1.9m from Historic England, which will be equally matched by the council, to invest a total of nearly £4m in the regeneration of buildings in the Upper Westgate Conservation Area.  

As our high street becomes more about the ‘experience’ and less about simply buying and selling, the quality of the environment and its contribution to that ‘experience’ becomes more important.

The Heritage Action Zone programme will see investment focused on understanding and regenerating our historic buildings, along with investing in the public realm. Restoring Upper Westgate’s character and supporting the features will help make it an unique and attractive destination for residents and visitors alike.

Success of the programme will not just be measured in terms of historic fabric restored, but in the impact it has on the economic, social and cultural well-being of the place and the people who use it.

To find out more about the Historic England’s Heritage Action Zone scheme please visit their website.

What will Westgate’s HAZ look like?

Buildings and Public Realm

You will see a noticeable transformation to the buildings and the surrounding area of Upper Westgate during the four year project. This includes the renovation of at least 20 buildings of historic and architectural value. 

The historic yards will experience a facelift to make the area feel safer and more welcoming. 


Property owners and their tenants will be able to apply for grant funding which they can use to restore and repurpose their buildings and make use of the vacant floor space within them. 

The scheme will employ local building contractors and conservation accredited architects to transform these properties into places for businesses to thrive and welcoming new homes. 

The area will be more desirable for existing and relocating businesses, including start ups who will shape their futures in these spaces. 

Together, this will create an opportunity to attract more people to the area, increasing spending and the enjoyment of this thriving cultural destination. 


An exciting aspect of the scheme will see Westgate’s cultural and arts organisations forming a Westgate Cultural Consortium. The consortium will be able to bid for grant funding from the Arts Council England, to run a separate 3 year programme of art and cultural events to raise awareness of Westgate’s unique heritage and history.


Alongside the cultural programme, when it’s safe to celebrate the scheme, the Council will bring forward a programme of community engagement activities located within the Westgate area. This will be an opportunity for Wakefield’s residents to become involved in the project and learn about its unique history. 

To find out what’s up and coming and other events during the HAZ please see our HAZ Diary

Wakefield Civic Society are contributing to the Heritage Action Zone by producing a new book about the history of the area and its buildings, and will be unveiling some new blue plaques, as well as offering guided tour of the street once Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted. Until then, the society is putting together a series of short films about the project which can be their Vimeo site


Wakefield Historical Society and its member are already hard at work safely undertaking on line research into the history of the buildings and their former occupants interrogating census returns, old photographs, trade directories and other historical documents. This will enable us to build up a better understanding of how the street and its inhabitants have changed over time.

For more information about the work of the historical society visits:


Edgeland Arts have been undertaking workshops and gathering memories of the high street and this will become part of an online exhibition and web resource, for people to find out about the living history of the street visit their web page:

Westgate Heritage Action Zone 1 | edgelandsarts

To visit the on line gallery and see images created by members of the public click on the link below:


How can I apply?

Grant Funding can be secured by property owners to repair their buildings.

How to apply

Expression Of Interest To identify if you qualify to receive grant funding please complete an Expression of interest form and email your completed form to pgwilliam@wakefield.gov.uk.

If you need any further information please call our dedicated HAZ Officer on 01924 304956

What happens Next? 

Following the receipt of your EOI form the dedicated Heritage Action Zone Officer will review it and will contact you.

Advice Notes about the Grants

For more detailed information about the grant application process and a schemes eligibility please refer to Heritage Action Zone Grant Application Advice Notes

Upper Westgate Heritage Action Zone Grant Application Process 2021

Two open webinars were held in January and February 2021, hosted by the Heritage Zone Action Officer, to enable owners, tenants and conservation professionals to find out more about the grant application process and the scheme. If you missed either of these there is a chance for you to review the February webinar on our YouTube channel here.

Heritage Action Zone Diary

Date 11 and 12 September 2021

An exciting weekend of entertainment is planned for 11 and 12 September 2021. This event is part of the National Heritage Open Day Festival and will feature, talks, craft activities, displays, multi-media, workshops & exhibitions all focused on the Upper Westgate Conservation Area. The events will shine a light on the street's forgotten historical characters as well as its fine buildings. The events will be staged within the Grade II listed Unity Hall, at the heart of the conservation area. For more information and to book onto any of the workshops or talks please go to: Events | Heritage Open Days

Date: 3 July and 10 July

Two heritage awareness sessions will be held at Unity Hall in June and July primarily aimed at owners and tenants of buildings within the Conservation Area. There will be a brief talk on the historical development of the area followed by an introduction into the ways buildings can be sensitively conserved, to ensure they retain their special historic character. After the talks, there will be a short walk around the Conservation Area to look at the buildings. Numbers will be limited to 10 because of covid-19 restrictions. All those who attend will be asked to wear a mask until seated and follow appropriate distancing rules. If you are interested in attending then email pgwilliam@wakefield.gov.uk

Date: 12 April 2021

As part of the Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) programme, and following on from work on Carter Street, the next scheme to relay stone setts will begin on Cheapside on the 11th January 2021.

Similar schemes are in the final stages of design and will take place in the ginnels off Westgate leading to Woolpacks Yard and Barstow Square. 2021 will also see stone setts reinstated and uplighters installed in Thompson's yard making the entrance to the yard more inviting and attractive for pedestrian and visitors.

Thompson Yard looking South

March-April 2021

Alongside the first year community engagement project delivered by Edgeland Arts they have also undertaken a cultural consultation programme to inform a future programme of arts and culture supported by money from an additional grant funding application. To find out more about the consultation visit:

Westgate Heritage Action Zone 2 | edgelandsarts

March 2021

To celebrate International Women's Day, Dreamtime Creative and the Wakefield Civic Society did a virtual unveiling of a blue plaque to Anne Hurst that will eventually be mounted to the side of the Natwest bank on Westgate. The plaque and one of 4 workshops celebrating this visionary women of Wakefield are being funded as part of a rolling program of community engagement to support the HAZ.

A short video presentation about Anne Hurst and the Upper Westgate Action Zone project is available at.

Forgotten Women of Wakefield: Ann Hurst – Yorkshire Bylines

January to April 2021

One of the planned community engagement activities and outcomes supporting the physical regeneration of Westgate is to achieve blue plague parity for women, by celebrating the lives of three visionary women of Westgate. Covid-19 secure workshops will start in January 2021 and run through till April and will look at the life of one of these forgotten women, Ann Hurst who was an active 19th century anti-slavery campaigner. Further information about the workshops can be found at


Date: 13 November 2020

One of the first public realm scheme in the country funded by the High Street Action Zone scheme is now nearing completion. Wakefield Council over the past 10 weeks has been relaying and putting back traditional stone setts along Carter Street. This is the first of 5  such scheme planned over the next 3 years that will see traditional heritage road surface brought back to the entrance ways and historic yards along upper Westgate.

Date: 11 February 2020

Heritage Action Zone Update: Wakefield Council receive a positive reception to their consultation showing plans to regenerate buildings on Upper Westgate as part of Historic England’s Heritage Action Zone Project.