Woolley Hall: Residents demand answers over plans to transform derelict 17th century building into wedding venue and spa
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Wakefield Council has revealed plans to transform Woolley Hall into a classy wedding venue and spa.
The hall, on the outskirts of the village of Woolley, dates back to 1635.
Owned for centuries by the wealthy Wentworth family, the council took over the building in 1947.
The local authority outlined its vision to restore the hall to its former glory in February 2022.
Council leader Denise Jeffery said she wanted the venue to become a modern wedding, spa and afternoon tea venue.
A third party is likely to be brought in to run a restaurant at the hall, which would be open to the public.
The plans were unveiled after campaigners warned that the much-loved building was falling to “rack and ruin”.
He said: “Every month that goes by the building deteriorates a little more.
“It seems the only activity there now is hiring the whole building out to the police for their police dog training on a weekly basis.
“Where have all the ideas gone for the new spa, a top restaurant, a wedding and conference venue and afternoon tea venue in its beautiful gardens?
“Surely this is the time to show we care in saving this historic Grade II listed building.”
The building has been used as a college of further education.
It later became a wedding and conference venue but has been empty and unused for years.
Mr Jones, who is also a member of Woolley Parish Council, added: “My fellow councillors are also very interested and supportive of all ideas to save it.
“It’s very frustrating and embarrassing that I am giving out the same ‘wait and see’ message at all the meetings.
“Members of the residents association think the refurbishment of Woolley Hall will never happen.
“They think it will be too expensive to save it. Are they right?”
Natalie Palmer, the council’s interim service director for property, said: “We understand people’s frustration, but can assure everyone that we are still continuing to actively explore options to bring the hall back into use, and safeguard it for the benefit of existing and future Woolley residents.
“No planning application is imminent but, were one to be submitted, local residents would get the opportunity to share their views and we’d ensure these were fully considered before making any decision.”
Commenting on the plans last year, Coun Jeffery said: “I love Woolley Hall, it’s a fabulous place.
“In the past we put it up for sale. I never wanted to do it, but times were tough.
“It’s a Grade II listed building, and it belongs to people of the district and it matters to people.”
Private developers who previously showed an interest in Woolley Hall had wanted to convert it into apartments, with a caveat that extra houses would be built in the grounds.
Coun Jeffery said she believed the proposal “would ruin the place”, adding: “We’ve been beavering away and we’ve pulled away from the people who wanted to buy it.
“We’re hoping to do it ourselves, but if we can’t we’re looking for a sympathetic partner.
“We don’t want to do anything to destroy the ambience of the place.”