Appeal to public over shares in art project

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Wakefield Council is urging people to buy shares in one of the city’s landmark buildings to ensure its future as a hub for music, theatre and the arts.

The council has pledged £500,000 in principle to support the project to renovate Unity House – a Grade 2 listed former Co-operative building, opposite the city’s Theatre Royal and close to Westgate Railway Station.

Council Leader, Coun Peter Box said he hoped investment by the council would help attract private sector support for Unity House (Wakefield) Ltd, a co-operative which is leading the renovation project.

He said: “I am very pleased that this co-operative has come forward with ambitious plans to renovate a landmark building at a key gateway to the city centre.

“It will bring jobs, opportunities and visitors into Wakefield and I hope people will share our confidence in the plans and buy shares in Unity House before the share offer closes on May 18.”

The £4.4m project aims to develop Unity House into a 650-seater events venue and workspace for creative industries.

Chris Hill, director of Unity House (Wakefield) said: “We’re very close to achieving the Investment we need, but we have to show the big funders the project has the backing of Wakefield people.

“This is a one off chance to bring a great venue back to life. Please go to the website (www.unityhallwakefield.co.uk) and invest what you can in the next week.”

Unity House (Wakefield) propose to fund the development through a combination of a community shares issue to raise £200,000, European Regional Development funding, a loan from Key Fund and the Architectural Heritage Fund and public sector grants where possible.

It is one of only nine successful applicants – and one of three from Wakefield – to go forward for a £1m-plus award from the Government’s Growing Places pot of cash.