Derelict Wakefield mills to be revived as arts hub

Rutland Mills in Wakefield. PIC: Scott Merrylees
Rutland Mills in Wakefield. PIC: Scott Merrylees
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A DEAL has been agreed which could see a large area of derelict mills transformed into a creative hub providing up to 1,000 jobs.

Wakefield Council has agreed the sale of the Rutland Mills site, next to the city’s famous The Hepworth Wakefield art gallery, to property developers, City and Provincial Properties PLC.

The authority has hailed the deal as finally completing the City’s historic Waterfront regeneration masterplan. City and Provincial Propoerties is responsible for TileYard Studios, a creative media hub based in central London and now plans to create a “northern extension” of this brand in Wakefield.

The firm’s director Paul Kempe’s initial ideas include the creation of music, textiles, and art and design studios, a small boutique hotel, offices, an events space and a courtyard with bars and restaurants.

He said: “I think there’s huge creative talent in the North of England but a lot of people feel obliged to go down to London.

“These facilities here could accommodate that talent and keep it in the north, in Wakefield.” He added: “I hope that this will have a positive effect on both the immediate area and also The Hepworth.

“If we can create more interest in this site and this area, we will have more people who want to visit and enjoy it.”

The redevelopment could create up to 1,000 jobs and attract existing and start-up businesses.

Wakefield Council leader Coun Peter Box said: “This is an exciting opportunity to build on the international cultural reputation of The Hepworth. It was essential that the final phase of the Waterfront regeneration complemented what we have already achieved in this area and I am very pleased that City and Provincial are bringing their vision, experience and creative brand to Wakefield.”

The Hepworth Wakefield’s director Simon Wallis said: “We’re delighted that the culture-led regeneration of Wakefield Waterfront will now enter an exciting new phase.”

The deal which will be completed if the developer secures the necessary planning permission. The deal also requires the developer to start work within two years of completion.