Plans for new West Yorkshire historic archives home

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DESIGNS are being drawn up for a new £3m home for thousands of West Yorkshire’s historic archives.

As reported in the YEP, the current ramshackle Registry of Deeds building on Newstead Road, Wakefield has been branded unfit to house the documents by inspectors.

Now council officers are drawing up plans for a new facility at Crown House on Kirkgate in the hopes that the National Archives bosses will not strip the city of the right to look after the important pieces of the county’s heritage.

Concerns about the state of the current building have been raised since as early as 2007.

And in a damning report following an inspection last year, officials from the National Archives branded the 1930 building “not fit for purpose” and demanded an action plan be put in place to relocate the documents or improve it.

They warned they could strip the facility of its status as a “place of deposit” if urgent action was not taken.

Since then, Wakefield Council bosses have been pulling together a bid to attract the £3m of Heritage Lottery Fund cash it will take to put a new facility in place.

A report to the council’s lifelong learning overview and scrutiny committee, who will meet next week says the council are looking at the Crown House site as a potential new home for the archives.

The new facility could also house archaeological and ecological records for West Yorkshire.

It adds: “The project board decided to recommend [the plans] because of the potential to aid the regeneration of the Kirkgate area and to link the Hepworth Gallery to the city centre.

“The services option seemed to offer the best value for money when taking into account service users and development costs.”

The current facility is home to 12,000 volumes of deeds relating to West Riding property transactions between 1704 and 1970, as well as the archives of the Wakefield Church of England diocese.

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