Work is under way to transform Bretton Hall’s mansion house into a hotel, spa and conference facility.
And guests could be staying at the multi-million pound development, in the grounds of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, as early as Easter 2018.
Developer Rushbond started repair work on the mansion this week.
The milestone marks the start of the two-year long project, which Rushbond’s real estate director Mark Finch says will be a “jewel” for the people of the city and tourists.
He said: “The sculpture park is absolutely world class. It is a fantastic venue and a huge asset for the city and region.
“Marrying that with the opportunity and ability to stay overnight here is creating something rather exciting and unique. It is very important in our philosophy that this is a very inclusive hotel.
“We want this development to be all things for all people. It fills a gap in the Wakefield community. Our market research shows that there is a real need for a high quality hotel that provides facilities for the district.”
Bretton Hall and the old library buildings will be turned into the hotel, with up to 120 bedrooms. It will include restaurants and a bar, meetings rooms and wedding facilities plus a gym and dry spa.
The current stable block will become offices as well as 13 lodges for guests wanting to stay at the complex for longer.
Other aspects of the development include exhibition space, conference facilities, a theatre complex, office areas in various buildings around the site and a new link road for access. Around 100 new jobs will be crated when the project is complete, as well as construction jobs during the building process.
Wakefield Council leader Coun Peter Box said: “This multi-million pound investment is yet another example of the private sector’s confidence in our district.
“Our ambition to make Wakefield a creative and cultural hub is fast becoming a reality.
“Developments like this, Rutland Mills and The Hepworth are not only putting Wakefield on the international stage but they will drive our economic growth, creating jobs and bringing more money into the district.
“We have a one-of-a-kind, world class setting in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and we could have a unique, high quality hotel and conference complex up and running in the next two years. Bretton Hall will undoubtedly attract visitors and businesses to the district, but equally importantly it will create something that local people can have pride in and can make good use of.
“This marks the starts of very exciting future for Bretton Hall, which will benefit the whole district, and I am delighted to see work get underway.”
Mr Finch said he hoped the new facilities would build on the success of Welcome to Yorkshire in attracting people to the county. But he said he also wanted the site to complement Wakefield’s “art and culture offering” and be a venue used by businesses from the Leeds and Sheffield City Regions and enjoyed by local people.
He said: “It’s an opportunity to bring people into Wakefield and visit what else is on offer here. But it will also be a real jewel for people living here to make use of just as much.”
Bretton Hall and its 500 acre
estate are Grade II listed.
The current building was constructed around 1720 by its then owner Sir William Wentworth.
West Riding County Council acquired the hall in 1947 and it operated as Bretton Hall College from 1949 to 2001.
From 2001 to 2007 it was part of Leeds University.
Wakefield Council bought the building in 2006 and leased it back to the university for a year.
Rushbond was granted planning permission for the hotel development in August 2014.
And the company entered into a 299 year lease with the council in September 2015 to enable the development to proceed.