Hepworth Gallery garden 'will bring more people to Wakefield'

Planning permission for the scheme was granted in March.
Planning permission for the scheme was granted in March.

The creation of an attractive landscape garden at the Hepworth Gallery will help draw more tourists to the Wakefield area, the council's deputy leader has said.

Denise Jeffery is in the process of completing negotiations with the gallery's bosses, which would see it take over a large grassed area next to the attraction.

The designs are now closer to reality.

The designs are now closer to reality.

The land, which is currently owned by the local authority, will be transformed into a green space complete with various species of plants and trees.

The Hepworth, which opened in 2011, is expected to lease the land on a 30 year deal, and will pay a small sum of money back to the taxpayer by way of rent.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Coun Jeffery said of the project: "It will actually enhance the Hepworth.

"The Hepworth has brought a lot of development, a lot of interest and a lot of prosperity into our district.

"Having the garden attached to it will increase the footfall and bring more people into the area."

Cabinet members voiced strong support for the scheme, with Coun Jeffery adding that she'd met a couple from London who'd visited Wakefield for a day trip because of the Hepworth.

The garden project was granted planning permission in March this year and those leading it have secured just over a third of the funding they need from private sponsors and grants.

They have also applied for an extra £500,000 worth of cash from Arts Council England.

Coun Les Shaw, portfolio holder for corporate services, said: "I looked at the designs a couple of years ago. It's taken a long time to get here (to this stage), but I think it's a fantastic idea and it will regenerate that whole area.

"I fully endorse this."

The garden will be nurtured in keeping with designs by well-known landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith who said in September he wanted to "put some love" back into the area.