New lease of life for former Wakefield Arms?

The former Wakefield Arms pub could be turned into apartments.
The former Wakefield Arms pub could be turned into apartments.

It was once a popular live music and jazz venue in the heart of the city.

But the former Wakefield Arms pub, which has been plagued by vandalism, has sat derelict and boarded up for more than a decade.

Now, as the Kirkgate area of the city continues to undergo a multi-million pound regeneration, the pub could be given a new lease of life.

Plans have been drawn up to restore the Grade II-Listed building on Monk Street and expand it to create 14 new apartments.

Planning documents submitted to Wakefield Council state: “The current condition of the Wakefield Arms site is significantly detrimental to the area and to the renovated [Kirkgate] railway station, and forms a major eyesore on a gateway into Wakefield.”

The documents, produced by Townsend Planning Consultants on behalf of applicant Mr Karim, add: “This proposal, which will bring the site back into beneficial use, will enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area.”

The original building dates back to around 1830. But it is the site’s heritage in the 1970s and 80s that many remember the most.

The pub was often packed with crowds enjoying live music and jazz from names including the Kalahari Bushmen, Tony Cozzy Costello and Frank Heppy Hepworth, as well as the Wakefield Arms Jazz Band.

But since its closure in 2003, it has experienced squatters, vandalism and arson attacks.

In 2013, The Ben Manning Music Foundation announced plans to buy the old pub and turn it into a community music venue and launched a fundraiser to secure the cash needed for the renovation.

Two years later, in 2015, the pub was earmarked by the council as one of 50 long-standing derelict sites in the district in need of regeneration.

According to the applicant, the flats plan, submitted at the end of last month, will help to “ensure the long-term preservation” of the building.

It comes two months after work got underway on a £6m highways scheme in Kirkgate, following the opening of the West Yorkshire History Centre in February and the £5.6m renovation of Kirkgate Railway Station in September 2015.