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We have included below a series of commonly asked questions about the project.

How will you ensure that the historical significance of the heritage buildings are maintained?

The proposed development will bring important heritage buildings back into wider use for the first time in years. The buildings will be sympathetically restored, using locally sourced materials wherever possible which reflect the distinctiveness of Wakefield’s civic architecture. In addition to the housing elements of the scheme, we plan to create a new flexible community space in the former Crown Court building, ensuring that this key local landmark can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, with spaces for a variety of creative and community uses. We are keen to work with local people in shaping our vision for the development so that it realises maximum positive benefits for local communities.

What benefits will this scheme deliver?

Economic benefits

In addition to developing new, high quality housing in the city centre, the scheme will help make the city centre a more attractive place to be – both of which will have benefits for local traders. We are also committed to supporting local businesses by using local suppliers wherever possible throughout the construction of the development.

Environmental benefits

Adapting and re-using existing buildings has environmental benefits due to the embodied carbon in existing buildings. The scheme will also make a positive contribution towards Wakefield’s climate goals. The planned green spaces will improve biodiversity in the city centre and absorb carbon, while street improvements will make it easier for people to get about the city centre on foot or by bike, reducing traffic and emissions. The buildings will incorporate sustainable design features such as energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting to minimise emissions, and our commitment to using locally sourced materials throughout the development will reduce the carbon footprint of the construction phase.

Health benefits

As a true “15-minute neighbourhood” the scheme is designed so that people can access all the services they need on foot or by bike, encouraging cycling and walking. The housing itself will include design features to promote healthy living, including ventilation, natural light and spaces that support relaxation. Meanwhile our proposals for a new community hub in the former Crown Court building will provide opportunities for people to meet and spend time together, combating loneliness and isolation, and the green spaces will support good mental health by enabling people to connect with nature. 

Heritage benefits

The proposals aim to secure a long-term future for important listed and heritage assets including buildings which have been vacant for some time, ensuring that theys are maintained in a viable use. We will also repair the damage done to the historic street pattern and urban grain that was caused by 1960s car parking provision and the subsequent clearance of that development. We are also seeking to respect the historic street pattern and urban grain through the form and arrangement of the development.

Addressing housing need

We see strong demand for good quality housing in the City Centre. The proposals will provide new housing to suit different budgets and circumstances.

Will the development include affordable housing?

Different types of housing will be provided to suit different budgets and circumstances. All of the housing will be of a high quality and design standard, with the aim of making Wakefield city centre an even more attractive and vibrant place to live, inspiring people to spend more time in the city centre and generating further investment.

Will the housing be aimed at commuters or is it intended for local people?

The aim of the development is to transform the Civic Quarter of Wakefield for the benefit of local people and make the city centre an even more attractive and exciting place to live. It is expected that this will appeal to existing residents of the Wakefield district and others looking for high quality city centre living. The development will be well-linked to the train station, so will suit those who commute or want to travel around the region, however the intention is to create a true 15-minute neighbourhood at the heart of the city, so that people can access shops, services and other amenities easily by bike or on foot. Proposals such as the community hub and quality streets and spaces are explicitly designed to encourage people to spend time in the Civic Quarter and create a sense of community in the heart of the city.

How does this scheme fit with the wider vision for Wakefield city centre?

As an important area within the city centre, the regeneration of Wakefield’s Civic Quarter is central to the Council’s plans for a thriving, resilient and sustainable local economy. We are working in close partnership with the Council to ensure that the scheme makes a strong positive contribution to the economy and the climate emergency, and aligns with the emerging Wakefield city centre masterplan.

How will the plans be submitted to and assessed by Wakefield Council?

The Civic Quarter plans have now been submitted as three planning applications with listed building consents for the two Court buildings. They include the conversion and restoration of the Crown Court to community uses; the conversion and restoration of the Coroners Court to an aparthotel or residential use; and the residential conversion of the former Police Station and Wood House, along with new build residential development on the sites of the Gills Yard and Rishworth Street car parks.

The planning applications are now subject to consultation as a normal part of the planning application process. This will include consideration by Council officers, as well as a range of statutory and technical consultees, including bodies like Historic England and the conservation and highways teams from the Council.

Will encouraging people to live in the city centre create more traffic?

By creating a true 15-minute neighbourhood, the ambition is to reduce people’s reliance on cars, enabling them to access shops, bars, restaurants and key services by foot or by bike. As part of the development we plan to make improvements to streets and footpaths in the area so that people can get about much easier by walking and cycling. This will reduce the need for parking provision within the development.

How will you involve local people?

As this development involves the regeneration of an important part of their city centre, ‘we were and continue to be keen’ to involve local people and businesses at every stage. An open and inclusive public consultation was held as part of the planning application process, where local people were able to share their views in several different ways, including online, by email, post or by attending webinars. We would like to thank those that took part in the consultation. 

We are also keen to harness the expertise and ideas of local people in developing our proposals further, and aim to be working with local suppliers, businesses and creatives throughout the detailed design and construction phases. Ultimately, we want this development to be an asset for local people, that makes them want to spend more time enjoying their city centre.