Wakefield's empty BHS building may be demolished to make way for new library and museum

Wakefield's old BHS building could be knocked down and replaced with a city centre museum, library and gallery, under new plans.

Friday, 21st August 2020, 4:45 pm
The building has been empty for four years since BHS collapsed.

Wakefield Council is planning to purchase the empty property, which has been disused since the retailer collapsed in 2016.

An "interactive gallery" and a cafe may also be opened at a freshly rebuilt facility, a senior councillor said.

Over the last four years, various ideas have been mooted for how best to use the BHS building, including one to move the city's market traders in there.

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Various options have been put forward for the building over the last four years.

None have come to fruition however, and the old shop's sorry-looking front was eventually spruced up with coloured tiles last year.

Now the council has applied for government funding to help buy the space.

It forms part of a long-term plan to give the area around Kirkgate a new lease of life and make it more attractive to visitors and young people.

Details on what exactly the rebuilt venue will look like are scant at this stage. The government is expected to decide on the council's funding bid in the autumn.

If approved, the council says it intends to submit a planning application next year.

Cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor Darren Byford said: "We are in the very early stages of putting a deal together to buy the former BHS building to boost the regeneration of the city centre.

"After public consultation in spring 2020, the Council submitted an ambitious bid to government in May for funding to demolish the derelict BHS building and replace with a much needed new public facility.

"It is planned that the new facility would primarily house a new city library and museum, interactive gallery with a café and a series of connected spaces for all generations to engage with skills, learning, creativity and fun and will be a fantastic boost to the city centre."

Local Democracy Reporting Service