Controversial plans for Wakefield College’s Thornes Park campus are dropped

Wakefield College's Thornes Park campus
Wakefield College's Thornes Park campus

Controversial plans to redevelop Wakefield College’s Thornes Park campus have ground to a halt.

College bosses were working with Panacea Property Development on ideas for the regeneration of the site, including for housing and a care facility. But the company has now pulled out, following backlash from the community.

Sam Wright

Sam Wright

Neil Patten, managing director, said: “Panacea and the college felt the plans imagined for this sensitive site represented a significant regeneration scheme.”

He added: “We have, in the short term, agreed with the college to draw a line under the process due to a lack of local support for our proposals in spite of our in-depth community consultation process. It’s a real shame that the options we extensively have consulted on were rejected by a vocal minority of local groups.”

Ian Deighton, chairman of the Friends of Clarence, Holmfield and Thornes parks said it was “good news” Panacea had decided not to progress. He said: “We have always said that the college’s Thornes Park is not a site that is suitable for residential development.

“It’s in the middle of the park and housing would destroy what we do to protect it. We want to work with the college to find something appropriate for the site.”

College bosses say the campus in the Grade II-listed park costs around £0.5m per year to maintain. They want to sell the site to generate money to invest in city centre facilities.

Assistant principal Ian Wainwright said: “The developer pulling out doesn’t change the fact that Thornes is expensive and costs us a lot of money to run. We need to release some equity from it.

“There are a number of ideas for the site but it’s finding one to fit with the park.”

Principal Sam Wright added: “People want to protect the parkland which of course we can understand, and it is marrying that up against doing something that is commercially viable. We need to rethink our options now. It still remains our plan to come out of Thornes and we are committed to developing an education quarter in the city.”

Staff and students will vacate Thornes over the next 18 months.