Plans in place to redevelop Grade-II listed Bretton Hall into a high-end hotel

It’s one of the of the most striking historical buildings in the district, sitting in heart of vast parkland by the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Friday, 6th September 2019, 1:00 pm
Updated Friday, 6th September 2019, 2:00 pm
Country residence Bretton Hall has been home to both 18th century aristocracy and a prestigious college of art.

Country residence Bretton Hall has been home to both 18th century aristocracy and a prestigious college of art.

And plans are now in place to redevelop the Grade-II listed building into a high-end hotel.

Real estate company Rushbond, alongside Wakefield Council, has appointed hospitality firm Artfarm to bring the building back to its former glory and add a much-needed hotel for visitors to the city.

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Iwan Wirth, founder of Artfarm said: “We are looking forward to working with Rushbond and our team and partners to ensure that Bretton Hall and its Estate is a cultural destination that complements the incredible Yorkshire Sculpture Park and helps promote the city of Wakefield as a cultural hub.

“At Artfarm we are passionate about weaving together art,community, hospitality and learning,and Bretton Hall provides an exciting platform to deliver a truly unique offer for Yorkshire and the North.”

The firm has redeveloped historic buildings in the south of England, Scotland and Los Angeles and is looking into bringing its expert touch to West Yorkshire.

Rushbond owns the Corn Exchange in Leeds and is currently working on redeveloping the former Magestyk nightclub in Leeds, which will be the city’s Channel 4 headquarters after being gutted by fire in 2014.

Coun Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We are excited to be bringing the historic Bretton Hall back to life with the developer Rushbond and the hotel operator partner Artfarm.

We welcome this as it will significantly enhance our current hotel, hospitality, cultural and visitor offer.”

Bretton College opened at the hall in 1949 and for decades offered teacher training as well as courses in art and design, music and performance.

In 2001, it merged with the University of Leeds, which it remained part of for six years until its closure in 2007.

In April 2017, bulldozers moved onto the Bretton Hall site to demolish former student accommodation blocks at the site, which was run as an educational institute until 2007.

The buildings were sold to Wakefield Council, which is working with Rushbond, parent company of Bretton Hall Partnership Ltd, to regenerate the site.

Jonathon Cornaby, Chief finance officer of Artfarm, said: “There is not one box that Bretton Hall doesn’t tick. It’s a unique site with an incredible story, anchored it art over the last 50 years, and it has the Yorkshire Sculpture Park around it. It’s a real privilege to be involved.

“What’s important is bringing the community with us – it is a fundamental aspect.”

Mark Finch, Rushbond director of real estate, said:“The vision, working closely with Wakefield Council has always been to reunite Bretton Hall with the wider Bretton Country Park, and to provide a platform to support creative thinking and activity for thew region.”

Peter Murray, Founder and executive director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park, added: “We very much welcome the news that Artfarm have been appointed as the operator-partner for the Bretton Hall development. YSP started over 40 years ago with an exhibition in the grounds of Bretton College.

“We now occupy 500 acres of historic landscape and we look forward to working alongside neighbours that share YSP’s commitment to furthering understanding, enjoyment and access to art for everyone.”

The revamp of Bretton Hall will form part of wider plans to attract tourists into the district and help Wakefield establish itself as a cultural destination.

Coun Peter Box said more hotel space was a vital part of getting people to come and stay in the city, as well as making the most of another of district’s architectural treasures.

He said: “If you look at the district one thing we are lacking if we’re honest is more hotel space. We have at least two of the best visitor attractions in the country, in the sculpture park and the Hepworth, but we do lack world class hotel space.

“We have the opportunity here for something very special for the district.

“It will be something we can be proud of.

“It will be a top-end hotel but we will make sure everyone has the opportunity to stay.”