Wakefield Westgate revamp: £90,000 allocated for cultural events to bring business back

One of the main routes into Wakefield city centre has been awarded a grant to help usher in a new era for the city.

By James Carney
Thursday, 27th May 2021, 7:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 7:42 pm
Coun Darren Byford
Coun Darren Byford

A total of £90,000 of Historic England cash will be invested in cultural activities on Westgate.

It forms part of bigger project for the street – from Westgate station to the Wood Street junction and including the yards on either side of the road – worth around £4 million.

The scope of the project ranges from restoring the fronts of buildings to encouraging new kinds of business to open and flourish.

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Both Wakefield Historical Society and Wakefield Civic Society are contributing to the project.

Coun Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for economic growth and Regeneration said: “This is a great investment for our city and our district.

“The cultural programme is really important as it aims to make our high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time in, and will support the regeneration work which is already underway to revitalise the Westgate area of the city centre.”

The grant will be used for the Hidden Stories from Westgate Voices – a three year cultural project which will bring to life the regeneration of the street through the stories of those that have lived and worked there.

Coun Byford said: “We want to deliver a diverse range of contemporary events, activities and artistic displays that tell these stories of people who lives and worked in the area in an inspiring and engaging way, that will appeal to residents and visitors.”

The funding is part of Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ) initiative to support the heart of the city, encourage businesses to the area and create new jobs

The council has received £1.9 million from Historic England, which it has match funded.

That means almost £4 million worth of investment is set to go into renovating Westgate’s historic buildings, and adjacent yards and ginnels.

The majority of the funds of the £4 million project will focus on making grants available of up to 90 per cent to owners of historic properties to carry out high quality repairs and to bring internal spaces back into use.

At least 20 buildings will be restored, for both residential and business use.

The project is being led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “The high street cultural programme is a step change in the way we think about bringing high streets back from the brink.

“As we start to see these important historic spaces become regenerated through building work, it is the community-led cultural work that helps people to enjoy their high street again and also have a say in what the future of their high street might be.”

Cultural activity funded by the local grants scheme will take place over the next three years.

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said: “High streets are often the heart of our communities and should be places we all want to engage with and enjoy.

“These grants will help transform high streets into thriving cultural hubs, encouraging us to embrace all the joys our town centres have to offer.”