Wakefield Council in negotiations to buy city’s former crown court

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Scaffolding has been put up around the city’s former crown court as Wakefield Council steps in to save the crumbling building.

The owner of the building was served with an order to carry out vital repairs in April after a survey found that the roof timbers were rotting and had to be repaired urgently.

The council was also planning to carry out compulsory purchase proceedings – at a cost of around £400,000 – if the work was not carried out.

Now council contractors are working on the Grade II-listed building on Wood Street, and the local authority is in negotiations to buy it.

Denise Jeffery, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for economic growth and skills, said: “Our contractors are currently putting up scaffolding on the crown court building in order to make it safe enough for a full survey to be carried out.

“An Urgent Works notice has been served on the owner and the work required wasn’t carried out, so we have had to step in and instruct contractors.”

It was estimated that obtaining possession of the building could cost between £10,000 and £50,000, and essential repairs would cost around £400,000.

Coun Jeffery added: “In parallel, we are negotiating with the owner to acquire the building and we hope to complete this shortly.

“If this does not go through we will seek to recoup any money spent on the work.”

The Crown Court was an official court building for the city from 1810 up until its closure in 1992.

A new owner took over the building last May, but it continued to deteriorate and was placed on the English Heritage At Risk’ register last July.