Music ‘will’ return to Unity Hall

Chris Hill from Shine who are looking to take over Unity House
Chris Hill from Shine who are looking to take over Unity House
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A historic city centre music venue is set to return to its former glory, helping to boost the economy.

A community group has been awarded £1.4m towards its £4m project to reopen Unity Hall, on Smyth Street.

Shine, a community interest company, was given the money from Leeds City Region after a leaders’ board meeting yesterday.

It means European match funding of £1.2m is set to be approved in the next few days, dependant on a guarantor backing the project.

Shine’s director Chris Hill said: “This latest sum of money is fantastic, but we have to make sure we get the European money before the project can go ahead.”

The group, backed by musicians, promoters, businesses and Wakefield Council, has already secured funding from investors to help get the project underway.

Council leader Peter Box chaired the Leeds City Region meeting, but had to declare an interest as he has shares in Unity Hall.

Speaking after his fellow members made a decision to approve a grant, he said: “It is great news. I am pleased this project can now go ahead.

“It is a massive piece of the jigsaw for the redevelopment of the city.

“This will be a real boost for the community and economy.”

Shine has also applied for an Arts Council grant of £500,000 for the refurbishment of the hall, and expects to get a decision in January.

Earlier this year the council’s cabinet committee agreed to pledge £500,000 towards the project, subject to the other funding.

And Netherton rockers The Cribs are backing the venue, so the city can attract bigger bands.

Unity Hall was built in the late 1800s and became a rock venue in the 1980s.

But it has been out of use for the past decade.

If redeveloped, it would have a capacity of about 800 and would also feature a function room, office and exhibition space, a cafe and shops.