Plans for major heritage project in Upper Westgate

A new £4.4 million project could revitalise an historic part of Wakefield and boost investment in the local economy.

By protecting older buildings, creating new jobs and attracting new small and medium businesses to the area, the major scheme could help to breathe new life into the heart of the city.

The plan is to create a Heritage Action Zone in upper Westgate to provide a focus for reviving the area over four years. Specialist conservation work would ensure that Georgian and Victorian buildings of historic interest are protected, as well as preserving surviving medieval street patterns and yard areas.

The project is part of Wakefield’s new economic strategy which includes the goal of finding new ways to repurpose the city and the district’s town centres in response to changing shopping habits and working patterns and to attract investment.

Cllr Darren Byford, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration at Wakefield Council, said:

This is an exciting project, which would support our long-term goals, deliver community and economic benefits to this part of the city. Re-purposing historic buildings would help improve perceptions of this part of the city and encourage businesses to locate into the city centre. It would also create new jobs that would help to reduce poverty and provide support to local communities.

The project would be funded by a £1.9 million grant from Heritage Action Zone, £0.6 million from the private sector and £1.9 million of match funding from the Council. This funding would create a grant scheme to be used by building owners to restore and restate architectural details of historic buildings, improve shopfronts and undertake repairs to buildings’ brickwork, roofs, drainpipes, warehouse hoists and windows. 

It could also offer grants for owners to bring buildings’ vacant floor space into use for occupation by new businesses or residents, with the purpose of increasing footfall to support Westgate’s vitality and vibrancy.

Involving local art and community groups is planned to be a feature of the Heritage Action Zone and would see a series of art, cultural and community events designed to engage Wakefield’s residents in activities which celebrate Westgate and its heritage.

Members of Wakefield’s Cabinet, are meeting on January 14 at 10.30am at Wakefield Town Hall and are being asked to approve the project, which would start in late spring. The meeting can be watched live or later on the Council’s website.