How a bit of al fresco flavour could boost Wakefield’s Wood Street

Wood Street market
Wood Street market

Pedestrianising Wood Street could bring a bit of al fresco flavour to Wakefield and make better use of one of the city’s most historical streets.

Antony de Csernatony has bought and renovated number 12-14 on the street and has a vision of how the area could look in the future.

Part of the building is now occupied by Kraft Barbers, which has wife Lisa owns, and he plans to build a “high end” cafe bar in the lot next door.

He said: “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get Wood Street like a Greek Street in Leeds. That’s the ultimate goal.

“It could be closed down to traffic and pedestrianised on evenings and weekends.

“When it’s at a point where it has a lot of nice bars and restaurants then all these businesses can come outside.

“They could put tables and chairs out and offer a bit more al fresco dining – that could be cool.

“We had great Easter weather and that was fantastic. I know we wouldn’t be able to do it all the time but wouldn’t it be great to make the most of it when we can?”

Kraft opened in January and has just won a Wakefield Civic Society award for best refurbishment award with judges describing it as “fashionable and on trend” and a good use of a previously empty lot.

Owner Lisa spent 12 years as a police officer before she decided to quit and retrain as a barber and hairdresser, moving into the new premises after honing her craft in Leeds and Sheffield.

Antony wants his building to be a “hub” for businesses on the street. Aside from Kraft and the bar plans it host tattoo studio and there is office space to rent upstairs.

He said: “We wanted to create a hub where people can hang out. The different aspects work hand in hand and it brings traffic through.

“A lot people from Wakefield, including myself, went off to Leeds to do our shopping and drinking and eating, and I think that killed Wakfeield even more.

“But over the last year or two I have started coming back here. Qubana set it going and they were very brave to take it on. And now everyone is basing their businesses around that.”

“Wakefield is a great city. It has been, it still is, and it could be even better.”

He said getting the right kinds of bars was vital to the regenerating and making the most of the area. He doesn’t think of new bars as competition but part of a bigger plan.

“It can be quiet on Cross Street but Corarima and Jolly Boys are always busy and that says something,” he said.

“Over the next five or 10 years I’d like to see Wood Street really explode and the more confidence people have in it the better it will be.”