Restoration plan for Wakefield and Pontefract courts

Wakefield Crown Court House.
Wakefield Crown Court House.

Courts in Wakefield and Pontefract are in line for restorations under plans to use the district’s historic civic buildings to benefit our town centres.

Restoration work to convert Pontefract Magistrates’ Court into an indoor market selling antiques and fine art has already begun.

It has been a longer road for Wakefield Crown Court since its closure in 1992 and subsequent sale to the private sector in 1994.

But earlier this year a £1 million project to restore structural damage on the court began and Wakefield Council has this week confirmed it is in talks to redevelop the building.

Clare Elliott, service director for economic growth and skills at Wakefield Council, said: “We are currently in discussions with a number of developers, with a view to converting the Crown Court building into possible leisure use - this is subject to the proposals being granted planning permission.”

In 2014 the Council became aware the privately owned building was deteriorating and was in a dangerous state.

The council took on ownership and a temporary roof and scaffolding were installed to prevent further deterioration, with assistance and funding from Historic England.

Following extensive and detailed surveys the council appointed a specialist contractor and is funding the repairs.

The work is expected to be completed by summer 2019.

The council says the old building is a key part of the Wakefield Civic Quarter Regeneration Area, an important historic area of the city and its transformation is a key priority.

Historic England placed the building on its at risk’ register in 2013, meaning it could be beyond restoration if it deteriorated further.

Coun Denise Jeffery, cabinet member for economic growth and skills, said: “This is a Grade-II listed building and is a key part of Wakefield’s heritage.

“We are committed to restoring this building so that it can be redeveloped and brought back into use. Previous owners had destroyed the building to a point where it became unstable. We have stepped in to make the building safe but now we need to invest in the building’s future to help us secure a developer to fully repair and restore it.

“By protecting it and carrying out repair works to its shell, we can help to make sure it is an attractive prospect for future development.”