Landmark deal for Wakefield

Landmark deal for Wakefield

Five derelict buildings in Wakefield are set to be transformed in a landmark deal which could see the town become the ‘creative hub of the north’.

The news follows Wakefield Council's sale of the Rutland Mills site to property developers City & Provincial Properties PLC.

The developer is responsible for Tileyard Studios, a creative media hub based in central London, and plans to create a 'northern extension' of the brand on the site.

Rutland Mills is adjacent to the site of The Hepworth Wakefield, the city's internationally acclaimed art gallery.

Wakefield Council leader, cllr Peter Box CBE, said: "This is an exciting opportunity to build on the international cultural reputation of The Hepworth.

"It was essential that the final phase of the Waterfront regeneration complemented what we have already achieved in this area and I am very pleased that City & Provincial are bringing their vision, experience and creative brand to Wakefield."

The Rutland Mills site could offer the opportunity for different uses including residential, commercial, cultural, education, community and leisure.

Rutland Mills is a complex of mill buildings, believed to date back to 1872. The site has been derelict since 1999 and in 2005 formed part of the Waterfront Masterplan, which aimed to transform the area in three phases, over a fifteen year period.

Phase one was completed in 2009 with the creation of new office and work space, safeguarding over 500 jobs and the development of new affordable homes. The internationally acclaimed art gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield, opened in 2011 marking the end of phase two.

The third and final phase proved more difficult due to the economic downturn. Wakefield Council continued to market the site to ensure any future development would support and complement the vision for the Waterfront area.

Box added: "Regeneration on this scale is never easy to deliver, especially whilst enduring a global financial crisis.

“However, in the last seven years new homes, offices and work spaces have been built, a world renowned art gallery has been established and good quality jobs have been secured and created.

"This is testament to the strong private sector partnerships we have developed and the excellent investment opportunities Wakefield now offers.

"The Waterfront master plan clearly laid out what we wanted to achieve in this area. As well as reconstructing the appearance of the riverside we also had an ambition to transform this historic area into a vibrant, culturally rich environment.

"The Hepworth Wakefield was a major step towards achieving this and now with the shared vision and ambition of the new developer, we are about to put the final piece of the jigsaw into place."

Wakefield Council's Cabinet formally agreed the deal and completion is conditional on the developer securing the necessary planning permission.

The terms of the deal also require the developer to start the development within two years of completion.

If this timetable is not met, it will trigger a buy-back option for the council.