Has a buyer been found to take over Unity Works?

SPeculation is growing that a new occupant has been found for Unity Works after a planned assets auction was cancelled this week.

Friday, 19th January 2018, 2:05 pm
Updated Friday, 19th January 2018, 3:35 pm
Bright future?: An auction was cancelled this week due to a sale of the business.

The Westgate venue was to be included in the online property with its conference, stage, audio visual and catering equipment set to go under the hammer.

Run by chartered surveyors, Eddison’s, it was removed on Tuesday due to a “sale of the business”.

The Bradford company would not elaborate further but Begbies Traynor, the administrators appointed in October following the collapse of Unity Works (Wakefield) Ltd, alluded to positive movement on the site’s future.

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A statement on behalf of Begbies Traynor read: “The joint administrators are currently exploring a number of options for the building and the proposed auction of assets has been cancelled in the meantime.

“They hope to be able to provide a detailed update shortly.”

Ward councillor for the city centre, Elizabeth Rhodes, said the news had come out of the blue, adding: “Its depends on what the future use is, as long as its compatible with the city centre.

“It was disappointing to see it close again after being closed for so many years, so I’ll look forward to see what happens in the near future.”

The administrators previously said their priority was to find a buyer for the company’s long leasehold interest in the building so that it could recoup some of the cash owed to creditors.

A breakdown of debts racked up by Unity Works shows 96 firms are owed cash from the doomed project totalling £227,000. Among these are 24 Wakefield-based companies which are owed more than £136,000, including £39,000 to catering firm Create Wakefield, based at Wakefield One, and more than £28,000 to HB Clark Brewery on Westgate.

Wakefield Council is owed more than £13,100 in rates, .

However, the total pales in comparison to the amount owed through loans given to Unity Works (Wakefield ) Ltd.

No repayment to a £1.4 million loan from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, granted in October 2013, was ever made, with the first annual £100,000 repayment scheduled for April 2017.

In addition, a £750,000 loan from the Architectural Heritage Fund was due for full repayment by 2024.

Unity Works announced in October last year that administrators had been appointed.

All operations stopped and up all members of staff were made redundant.

Opened to a fanfare in 2014, the building has stood empty for more than a decade beforehand.

While many saw it as Wakefield’s centrepiece venue, it continued loss huge sums of money behind the scenes.

A report at the end of the first financial year, six months after it first opened, stated a loss of over £571,000.

A year later it was in the red by another £370,000. Although no accounts were produced for 2017, it was estimated that it lost a further £340,000.