Venue’s fate to be decided

Chris Hill from Shine who are looking to take over Unity House
Chris Hill from Shine who are looking to take over Unity House

PLANS to restore a historic city centre music venue to its former glory could take a giant leap forward this month.

Musicians, promoters, businesses and Wakefield Council have all pledged their support to a project to reopen Unity Hall, on Smyth Street.

And Shine, a community interest company leading the project, is expecting to find out whether or not funding bids totalling more than £2.5m from Growing Places and European funding are successful by the end of the month.

Investors who contributed to a share issue earlier this year have already helped to raise some of the £4m that the project needs to get underway.

Shine’s director Chris Hill said: “If the bids are successful they’ll bring us into the region of £4m and we’ll be able to develop Unity Hall.”

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 other funding becoming available.

And Netherton band The Cribs, who invested in the share issue themselves, urged people to dig deep so that Wakefield can get the medium-sized venue it needs to attract bigger bands.

Unity Hall was built in the late 1800s and became a rock venue in the 1980s, hosting acts including The Eurythmics, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden and The Specials.

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.