Wakefield Council is taking the next step forward with city centre regeneration plans – with the development of the former ABC Cinema in Kirkgate.
The Council acquired the building last year, which has fallen into a state of disrepair for over 20 years by a series of private owners to see if it could be repurposed. However, following extensive surveys, which have found the building to be in poor condition means it is not economically viable to save and the Council has reluctantly decided that it will need to be demolished.
Architects have been appointed to design a new building, to include a new building façade that will celebrate the ABC Cinema’s Art Deco frontage.
The ABC development is part of the Council’s wider emerging plans for the city centre which includes the opening of Tileyard North next summer and the redevelopment of the former Market Hall into a performance and exhibition space that will soon be underway.
There are also exciting plans to transform the historic Civic Quarter on Wood Street into a thriving neighbourhood, with new homes and a stunning new public facility.
They are all part of the emerging masterplan, which is being developed as a vision to shape the future of the city centre, and will give residents and businesses opportunities to input ideas into the process.
Cllr Darren Byford, Cabinet member for Economic Growth, Regeneration and Property, said: “Kirkgate is a key gateway into the city and the demolition of the ABC building will immediately improve the appearance of the area as well as supporting our plans to regenerate the area and bring additional investment to Wakefield.
“We’ve shared the concerns of residents about the disused and derelict state of the ABC Cinema building and it is an issue we’ve been tackling with a series of owners for many years.
“The Council purchased the building last year and since then we’ve been considering all the options for its future and how Kirkgate can be involved in the wider regeneration of this part of the city.
“We are keen to look at how the site can support our ambitions for the area, and look forward to seeing the architects’ proposals.”
A temporary green area will be created after the ABC Cinema demolition is completed.
Over the next few years, the Council plans to bring both good quality new homes and create new green areas to the Kirkgate area of the city.
Cllr Byford added: “This an exciting time of investment and change for our city centre and for the wider district’s economy, as we continue to work with our partners and plan the next stage of regeneration.”
The Council and its partners were successful with its Town’s Fund bid for £24.9m, announced in the budget and are currently working on finalising the full business case to release funding in Spring 2022. Some of this funding will be used to continue the Kirkgate regeneration projects.
The key Town Fund bid partners are the City’s High Street Task Force group, made up of representatives from the Council, local businesses, key stakeholders, the wider communities and local MPs.
The Town’s Fund monies come on top of investment the Council has already made and will be making across the district to support its city and town centres. This includes, over the next four years the Council’s capital programme of £355m of capital investment in the district to positively support the district, its residents and local businesses. This significant investment will be used to drive regeneration and economic growth, while supporting schools and other essential services that the Council provides.
Notes for Editors.
Ambitious plan to transform Kirkgate have already delivered the restoration of the rail station, the creation of the new West Yorkshire History Centre and the completion of a £6million scheme to improve roads and pavements for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
The new infrastructure was put in place to support future development and investment in this part of the city.
More recently, the Council has purchased and demolished the derelict office building, Chantry House, along with the derelict Snooty Fox, to prepare the area for re-development of affordable housing.