Offers wanted for Sandal Castle Visitor Centre - rent from £12,000 per year

Picture Scott Merrylees
Picture Scott Merrylees

The former Sandal Castle Visitor Centre has gone up for rent.

Wakefield Council has decided to put the building up for rental, for offers over £12,000 per year.

The centre, which sits next to the castle on Manygates Lane, was closed in a cost-cutting move by the authority over the summer. And it has been empty ever since.

Karen Collins, service director for culture and sport at Wakefield Council, said: “We are seeking a new tenant for the former Sandal Castle Visitor Centre.

“It’s a great opportunity for a business to set up in a unique location and we look forward to someone giving the building a new lease of life.”

Representatives of the Friends of Sandal Castle (FOSC), Sandal Community Association (SCA) and Inspiring Community met with the council yesterday to get more information about plans to rent out the building.

Les Goddard, chairman of the Sandal Community Association, said: “The guide price is £12,000 per annum minimum which obviously I don’t think any voluntary organisation would be able to pay.

“I think the council want a commercial let if they can, but that would need to be in-keeping with the use of the historic castle site.

“It’s just a matter of waiting to see now what offers they get.

“In an ideal world we want it as a visitor centre open to the community. What it was before as a visitor centre and cafe was an appropriate use.”

The building is on the rental market with a minimum three year lease. Any proposed new uses of the former centre would be subject to planning permission.

Dr Keith Souter, vice chairman of the Friends of Sandal Castle, said: “We have had a lot of enquiries on our Facebook pages for both the FOSC and the SCA, bemoaning the closure of the centre.

“People are proud of the castle and it has a place in their childhood and in their lives and they were surprised and saddened by the visitor centre closure this summer.

“Our hope is that if it is rented that it will be used for the community and used by the community. The last thing we want is for it to stand empty.

“Ultimately, the Friends of Sandal Castle hope that we will be able to liaise with the new tenant to hold more events at the castle, like re-enactments, lectures and the popular annual police brass band concert.”

The council said it shut the visitor centre “as a direct result of budget cuts”.

And it has not yet restored and reopened bridges and walkways at the medieval castle, which closed due to safety concerns in March.

It said it was exploring external funding options to carry out repair work, which it said could cost more than £175,000.

The authority also pledged to protect the castle after yobs graffittied and vandalised its stone walls in September.

It condemned the attacks, which sparked outrage in the community, and said it would install temporary CCTV at the site, increase litter patrols, boost night time security and work with West Yorkshire Police to prevent future anti-social behaviour.

To view details of the former visitor centre building, visit www.wakefield.gov.uk/Documents/property/SandalCastleVisitorCentre-MarketingDetails