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 69 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. 

Economy 

Property owners 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 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. 

Culture

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.


Community

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

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.

Heritage Action Zone Diary

Date: 11 February

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.

Date: 13 November

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 January 2021

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

Similar schemes are now in the final stages of design also funded by the HAZ programme and will take place on the ginnel along Westgate leading to Woolpacks Yard and Barstow Square. 2021 will also see stone setts reinstated and uplighters installed to Thompson's yard make the entrance to the yard more inviting and attractive for pedestrian and visitors.

Thompson's yard is home to the Gissing Museum situated in the Victorian novelists' former family home.

The Gissing Museum is open to the public every Saturday 2pm until 4pm May to September.

A short film about the life of George Gissing can be found at https://www.wakefieldhistoricalsociety.org.uk/links/the-gissing%20trust/


Thompson Yard looking South