Decision set to be made on former Wakefield Crown Court revamp while work is underway on Rutland Mills waterfront redevelopment

Councillors are set to make a decision on plans to convert a historic part of Wakefield into a new neighbourhood and work has started on a project to revamp an old abandoned mill.

By James Carney
Thursday, 4th March 2021, 1:54 pm
The former crown court building on Wood Street
The former crown court building on Wood Street

Wakefield Council’s cabinet will be asked to give the green light to the next steps in the regeneration of Wakefield’s historic Civic Quarter.

The proposals would be turning parts of the area around the city’s town hall and former crown court into a new neighbourhood, with new homes and a new public facility.

Meanwhile work has begun at the former Rutland Mills, which will be converted into a new creative businesses facility named Tileyard North.

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An artist's impression of the Rutland Mills development

It is hoped the development will nurture new industries and play a vital roll in the regeneration of the city’s waterfront.

The facility will be a sister project to Tileyard London, which is home to over 250 creative organisations, artists and independent businesses, including a world leading music industry training facility.

More than £40m is expected to be invested in the project.

Once completed it is estimated the first phase will provide more than 250 jobs in the creative, leisure and education sectors, rising to 500-plus once the development is completed.

Regarding the redevelopment of the Civic Quarter, over the last seven years Wakefield Council has acquired the former police station and former crown court buildings on Wood Street, and also demolished both the County Hall annexe and the multi-storey car park, to kick-start regeneration of the area.

The local authority has already agreed in principle to the sale of the key properties to the Leeds-based developer Rushbond, and cabinet are now being asked for approval.

Rushbond intend to submit the first planning application by this summer for the conversion of the landmark buildings alongside new-build homes.

The plan includes an intention for Wakefield’s former crown court, which has recently undergone extensive restoration to its shell, to be brought back into use, potentially as a public facility.

A mix of residential development will be created at the former Wood Street Police Station, and on the Gills Yard and Rishworth Street car parks.

Councillors believe the plans for Wakefield’s Civic Quarter will keep the city’s historic buildings in safe hands.

Coun Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for economic growth and regeneration, said: “These plans are hugely welcomed, this will help to breathe new life into this part of the city and ensure its stunning buildings are restored and transformed for future generations to enjoy.

“The regeneration and development of this key area of the city centre will offer new housing, community facilities and employment opportunities for our residents.

“We chose Rushbond because of their track record across our region in revitalising and repurposing historic buildings, combined with their flair for creating new homes and their commitment to delivering high quality work.

“These are exciting plans, which will also help us to rebuild our district’s economy following the pandemic by bringing more people into the city centre to live, work and visit.”

The plans will be discussed on March 16 at cabinet.