Is the next stage of Wakefield's re-development on back on track?

PUBLISHED: 16:57 10 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:07 20 February 2013

Is the next stage of Wakefield's re-development on back on track?

Is the next stage of Wakefield's re-development on back on track?

A decision is expected this month which could put the next stage of Wakefield's re-development on track, as Paul Mackenzie reports Photographs by Kirsty Thompson

These are exciting times in Wakefield. In recent years more than 330million has been spent on major projects which have transformed large areas of the city centre and there is more to come.


A decision is expected this month from the Department for Transport on an 8million bid from East Coast Trains to create a new Westgate railway station.

If approved, the plan would involve re-building the station 100 yards up the line in a modern new building with shops on land between the current station and the multi-storey car park.

Wakefield Councils director of regeneration, Andy Wallhead arguably Yorkshires busiest man in recent years said: The bid has been submitted by East Coast and if it is successful we should hear this month.

If it gets the green light we could be looking at starting working in 2013 and a finish date in 2014. The platforms would not need to be changed, its just a case of replacing the buildings. The new station would have lift access, shops, an improved caf, new waiting facilities.

And Andy, who joined the council five years ago, added: It has been quite a hectic time, especially in the last 18


These are exciting times in Wakefield. In recent years more than 330million has been spent on major projects which have transformed large areas of the city centre and there is more to come.

A decision is expected this month from the Department for Transport on an 8million bid from East Coast Trains to create a new Westgate railway station.

If approved, the plan would involve re-building the station 100 yards up the line in a modern new building with shops on land between the current station and the multi-storey car park.

Wakefield Councils director of regeneration, Andy Wallhead arguably Yorkshires busiest man in recent years said: The bid has been submitted by East Coast and if it is successful we should hear this month.

If it gets the green light we could be looking at starting working in 2013 and a finish date in 2014. The platforms would not need to be changed, its just a case of replacing the buildings. The new station would have lift access, shops, an improved caf, new waiting facilities.

And Andy, who joined the council five years ago, added: It has been quite a hectic time, especially in the last 18months or so the town has changed immensely since I arrived but it has been great to see things come to fruition.

Flagship developments The Hepworth and Trinity Walk opened in May this year and are both proving popular. More than one million people visited the 170million Trinity Walk shopping centre in the five weeks after it opened and the numbers taking a trip to The Hepworth have also smashed through the expected levels. Around 150,000 were budgeted for in the first year, a figure that was exceeded within six weeks and is already well on the way to being doubled.

And with the new market hall, waterfront project and inner ring road evocatively named Emerald Ring all completed or nearing completion, theface of the town is changing.

Council leader Peter Box CBE said: We recognise that its important to invest in the future and that is what we are aiming to do. I think it would have been easy, when things got tough, for us to have said lets not do this or that but if we invest in times of recession we will be well placed to take advantage when we come out of recession.

When you do things, such as we have done in Wakefield in recent years, you raise expectations and that can only be a good thing. People should be ambitious, they shouldnt settle for second best.




There is a lot going on here and I think the developments in Wakefield have helped people to see the city in a different way. I go into the city most days and you can see what a hive of activity it now is.




The second phase of the Merchant Gate development is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year and Cllr Box, who has been leader of the council since 1998, is keen to maintain the momentum which has built up around the city.

The old court house building on Wood Street is now in his sights. It has stood empty for too long, he said. Hopefully we will have some answers about that buildings future by the end of the year.

And changes are planned at Wakefield Cathedral too. The cathedral spire, at a height of about 247ft, is the tallest in Yorkshire and dominates the city skyline, and the church below is to be given a 5million revamp as part of their Project 2013.

The scheme is aimed to coincide with the 125th anniversary of All Saints parish church being upgraded to a cathedral and Wakefield being granted city status.

When complete, the three phase Project 2013 will provide a concertvenue, exhibition space, debating chamber and social hub to rival major commercial venues.

Phase one, which is due to start in spring next year, centres on the nave, the main seating area which makes up around half the footprint of the whole cathedral. The entire floor will be replaced and raised by a step to improve access and make room for underfloor heating. All the Victorian pews will be removed and sold to make way for more flexible seating arrangements and the audio and lighting systems will both be brought up to date.

Phase 2 involves an extension on the north side, while phase three will see the conservation and restoration of the medieval choir.

Canon Michael Rawson, who has taken part in a skydive to help raise funds for the scheme, said: We still need just over 1million to get phase one off the ground but we are confident it will happen.

We have launched a share scheme to break that big sum down into more manageable pieces so people, churches, clubs or societies can donate in chunks of 250.

The cathedral is very dark and gloomy and not really suitable for the 21st century. We want to clean off hundreds of years of industrial grime.

Since The Hepworth and Trinity Walk opened our visitor numbers have gone up. Town is much busier now and it seems as though there is much more confidence around. People seem to have a real pride inwhat is going on around Wakefield.


Getting there: Wakefield is in the lower Calder Valley, nine miles southeast of Leeds in West Yorkshire. Its just off junction 40 of the M1 and sits at the centre of a busy transport hub for both buses and trains. To check bus and train times, phone MetroLine on 0113 245 7676 or visit wymetro.com.

Where to park: There are more than 1,500 off-street and 600 on-street council-controlled parking spaces in the city centre.

What to do: Lots. Apart from the shops and the Hepworth, theres also the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the National Coal Mining Museum, Nostell Priory and the ruined Sandal Castle. This is also the centre of the rhubarb triangle and the pink stuff can now be found in everything from crumbles to cheeses so dont leave without some


Getting there: Wakefield is in the lower Calder Valley, nine miles southeast of Leeds in West Yorkshire. Its just off junction 40 of the M1 and sits at the centre of a busy transport hub for both buses and trains. To check bus and train times, phone MetroLine on 0113 245 7676 or visit wymetro.com.

Where to park: There are more than 1,500 off-street and 600 on-street council-controlled parking spaces in the city centre.

What to do: Lots. Apart from the shops and the Hepworth, theres also the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the National Coal Mining Museum, Nostell Priory and the ruined Sandal Castle. This is also the centre of the rhubarb triangle and the pink stuff can now be found in everything from crumbles to cheeses so dont leave without some



The print version of this article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Yorkshire Life

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