Eyesore pub on gateway to city is given new hopes

DERELICT:  New life for the former live music and jazz venue?
DERELICT: New life for the former live music and jazz venue?

The developer planning to breathe new life into a derelict pub says he has fresh hope work can go ahead.

Permission to convert and extend the former Wakefield Arms pub to create 14 apartments was granted earlier this month.

But the man behind the proposals Hakim Karim claimed planning conditions would make work on the Grade II-Listed building “impossible” to carry out.

Now, after a meeting with Andy Wallhead, corporate director for regeneration and economic growth at Wakefield Council, Mr Karim said he is feeling more positive.

He said: “I said that with all the conditions, I just could not do it.

“Mr Wallhead said the council will help me as much as they can to get this building sorted out. It looks like it is game on. I hope it goes ahead.”

Mr Karim said the next stage is to get a builder to draw up a report of the work to present to the council.

The original pub building dates back to around 1830.

In the 1970s and 80s it was a popular live music and jazz venue, often packed with crowds enjoying performances from names including the Kalahari Bushmen, Tony Cozzy Costello and Frank Heppy Hepworth, as well as the Wakefield Arms Jazz Band.

Planning conditions on the pub include having a conservation professional draw up a report on structural repairs, restoring the building to safeguard its heritage before the new use begins, and carrying out archaeological and architectural recording.

Speaking earlier this month, Mr Karim said: “You would have to pay a lot of money to do the work and meet all those conditions and you wouldn’t get the return back. I’ve got the planning permission but I’m not going to be able to do it. It is just going to be left to rot.”

In the planning application he said he hoped the building, which has been plagued by vandalism and has been described as a “major eyesore” at the Kirkgate gateway into the city, could be improved.

He hopes the work will enhance the area, which continues to undergo a multi-million pound regeneration.