Having just taken some visiting friends on a tour around the Wakefield area, I couldn’t help but agree with them on their overall opinion that there must be at least 50 shades of grey around the district - but not the shades of grey to get pulses racing as those in the book!
No matter where you look, all the new industrial/commercial development is little more than an array of vast grey boxes built to a bland and basic functional design.
Even the new Lidl store being built in Normanton is grey in colour!
On seeing the Bullring my friends exclaimed ‘Wow! More grey!’...and they were not impressed by the cracks and tarmac patches in the Bullring’s road surfaces. ‘Why hasn’t the council made the contractors make good the surfaces?’ - nor that the crossing lights in what is supposed to be a ‘pedestrian-friendly’ area work in favour of the traffic rather than the pedestrian - unlike the crossing on Denby Dale Road by Sainsbury’s which is one of the very few in the district that work in favour of the pedestrian rather than the traffic!
I told them about some of the council members recently experiencing, as a sight-impaired person, the Bullring and how shocked they were by the danger they faced, to which my friends asked: ‘Well why wasn’t that picked up in the design before planning was approved?’
Heads just shook in disbelief at the sight of the colossus of Newmarket Lane and how HS2 would, in time, be ripping through the area, too! So much for green and open spaces!
On a positive note, though, they thought that Wakefield One blended in well with County Hall and that the Merchant Gate area was ‘interesting’, and they had nothing but praise for the Theatre Royal and for those who have taken on the restoration of Unity Hall.
‘Heritage’ has long been the name of the game in so many places around the country, but for some reason or another Wakefield appears to be the exception when it comes to development both in the city centre and in the surrounding areas. Like most people, I appreciate that many old buildings are no longer fit for purpose and need to be demolished, and that re-development and new development has to happen - but please can’t it be done with some style and colour rather than uninspiring ‘box’ designs in yet more 50 shades of grey?