Former "doss house" hotel subject to new planning application

A former Wakefield city centre hotel described as a "doss house" by one reviewer could become a permanent house for short-term tenancies.

By Nick Frame
Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 7:20 am

A retrospective planning application has been submitted to allow the former Black Swan on Westgate to continue being used as a low-cost house of multiple occupancy (HMO) for destitute people.

The building, which is Grade-II listed, has been subject to debate overs its shabby appearance and is described by the current applicant, Julius Oluokun, as being used previously as a "poor-quality hotel" which closed in 2018/19.

Indeed, flaking paint on the brickwork and ledges of the three-storey building has left the exterior of the building in a dilapidated state.

The old Black Swan Hotel on Westgate.

And while some online reviews of the building have been favourable, one former guest simply said: "Not a hotel. Doss house with broken windows and smashed fire exit doors.

"Another dive in a shabby run-down area of Wakefield."

The building is currently being used as a HMO, but the application, if approved, will rubberstamp its status.

The plans show 13 bedrooms, most of which are ensuite, with shared lounge and kitchen areas for individuals or couples that the applicants says "sadly do not meet or qualify immediately for social housing".

The building was constructed in the late 18th and early 19th century, and lies within the Lower Westgate Conservation Area.

It was given listed status in 1953 due to its special architectural or historic interest.

The proposed alterations by the applicant to the interior do not form part of the listing status, raising questions over whether any work will be carried out on the much-maligned external part of the building, which still bears the name of the former hotel.

The report submitted to city planners reads: "Sadly, the owner attempted to paint the exterior and the exterior is blighted by a half-finished paint finish.

"The hotel use was found to be unviable when trying to compete with modern chain operators providing better modern facilities on a low-budget basis.

"We submit that the new submission marries this decision in that the current HMO provides, needy, albeit unauthorised under planning legislation, for unprivileged individuals.

"The approval of the existing use would enable the building a form of preservation which would disappear should this consent be rejected.

"The applicants are committed to providing accommodation for Wakefield neglected community, sadly overlooked by the local authority.

"Its refusal would result in dereliction and probable unauthorised occupation."

Permission was granted in 2013 to convert the hotel into student accommodation, but the work was never carried out.