A shining vision for 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

ONE of the city’s most historic buildings is a step closer to being brought back to life as a live music venue.

Plans to restore Unity Hall, on the corner of Westgate and Smyth Street, were submitted to Wakefield Council this week.

The £4m proposal by regeneration organisation Shine would see the grade-II listed landmark transformed into a centre for music and the arts.

If planning consent is granted Shine will create a live music venues with a capacity for around 800 people.

There will also be studios, workshops, meeting and conference rooms and a cafe.

Chris Hill, project leader at Shine, said: “Redeveloping Unity Hall will create a national music and conference venue for the city attracting the biggest bands and artists.

“Unity Hall can bring together all of the creative businesses and people in one place.”

But funding for the project has not yet been secured.

Wakefield Council has pledged it’s support with a £500,000 grant.

But Shine still needs to raise at least £200,000 by June.

It has launched a share issue which has so far attracted more than 100 investors including Wakefield Civic Society.

Mr Hill said: “There is nothing like Unity Hall in Wakefield and it vitally important that we get the investment needed to make this project a success.”

Unity Hall was opened in 1902 by the Wakefield Wholesale Co-operative Society.

In the 1950s and 60s it used to host major dances and later it attracted big name bands including The Specials and Human League.

But in the 1990s it was boarded up and has stood empty ever since.

In 2008 proposals to turn it into a nightclub were turned down due to police concerns about public safety.

Shine will be giving a tour around the building on Saturday, June 2.

It starts at 11am and anyone is welcome.

For more information about the project or how to invest, visit www.unity hallwakefield.co.uk