LETTER SPECIAL: Derelict ABC Cinema on Kirkgate, Wakefield

I really do not know how much longer the people of Wakefield have to put up with the awful sight of dereliction presented by the former cinema situated opposite The Ridings on the corner of Sun Lane and Kirkgate.

This building and its adjoining small parade of boarded-up shops have stood now for several years completely abandoned and in a state of disrepair, significantly lowering the tone of the area.

The swathes of dirty green netting which clad the superstructure, presumably there to catch stray pieces of falling masonry, are no doubt essential but do nothing to dispel the impression created of inner-city squalor.

Add to this the graffiti, ad hoc adverts and various other posters which the building has attracted and what you get is a ghastly sight in what could and should be one of the prime areas of our town. Even the prevalent wooden boarding is itself in a state of advanced decay in places, making the premises an even greater eyesore. Even if, as I believe, these properties are not council-owned and therefore the council has its hands tied to some extent, there surely must be some measures that the local authority could take to improve the appearance of this location?

We have so many attractive amenities and features in Wakefield, including the Sun Lane Fitness Centre, Trinity Walk Shopping Centre, and the fountains on the Bull Ring, yet this prominent small corner of town has just been left year on year to stagnate. I would very much like to know why.

Robert Cowan

Mountbatten Avenue,


I wholeheartedly agree with every point Robert Cowan made in his excellent letter regarding the derelict cinema site in Lower Kirkgate (Wakefield Express, February 26).

The site is a total disgrace and the council should hang its head in shame for not having sorted it out after all these years.

They still have no strategy to do so. It is no good tarting up other parts of the city while at the same time turning a blind eye to this blot on the city’s landscape.

I refuse to believe that the council’s hands are tied, and that they can do little about the present situation.

Perhaps I could float an idea with the council. I don’t know the exact area of this derelict site, but it appears to be quite large, especially if the car park behind the site (not Wilko’s car park) is included. Why not flatten the site, tarmac the area over and use it for an outdoor market, something I feel that the city could benefit from, and something that the council is, at the moment, unable to provide.

David Craggs

Shafton Gate,


In response to Mr Cowan’s letter regarding Kirkgate, he is correct that we are not responsible for the condition of these buildings.

They are privately owned and this does limit our powers to intervene.

However, we do agree that these buildings are in a poor state and we too want them to be a part of the great regeneration work that is taking place across the city.

I want to reassure Mr Cowan that we are doing all we can, and the council’s planning department has been in contact with the owners to make sure the buildings do not become a public danger.

The owners had planning permission to develop the old cinema site, but unfortunately they did not progress their plans, which is why the buildings are now in such a state.

I want to reassure Mr Cowan that we do have plans for the Kirkgate area, which has already seen the building of the new Sun Lane Leisure centre, restoration of Kirkgate Station and the development of the new Wakefield History Centre.

Major highway improvements are also planned over the next two years which will continue to transform the area.

As these plans develop we will be in contact with the old cinema site owners to discuss its future.

Coun Denise Jeffery

Cabinet Member Economic Growth and Skills for Wakefield Council