Investors back plans for music venue in city centre

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AMBITIOUS proposals to turn a run-down building in a Yorkshire city into a major music venue have been backed by over 140 small-scale investors who have bought into the idea of it being run as a co-operative.

Potential investors have until tomorrow to become involved in plans to regenerate Unity Hall, one of Wakefield’s iconic buildings, and re-establish it as a major entertainment venue.

The scheme to bring Unity Hall back to its former glory has already attracted 142 investors and more than £100,000 towards the cost of the initial survey and pre-construction work.

Some of the small-scale investors have put forward the minimum sum acceptable, £200, while others have donated more.

The whole project will cost £4.4 million in total and, Unity House (Wakefield) Limited, with the support of The Co-operative Enterprise Hub, has registered as a co-operative to launch the community share issue.

Investor Irene Rhodes, 56, of Horbury, near Wakefield, who put in £200, said the proposal for a major music venue was overdue.

“I am enthusiastic about and supportive of local musicians. My son Harry (24) is a song writer and guitarist involved in a couple of local bands. Arts in Wakefield are on a trajectory and this space (Unity Hall) is going to be a massive space for gigs, as well as a gallery space and a coffee shop.”

Ms Rhodes is unsure what her investment will lead to on a personal level but she can envisage a time when she would consider becoming involved in the the running of Unity Hall.

Successful Wakefield band The Cribs have also supported the share issue.

Drummer Ross Jarman of The Cribs said: “We’re investing in Unity Hall. Wakefield is our town and it needs a major music venue of this quality. It will be a huge boost for the local music scene - we’d urge everyone to get behind it.”

Working with Leeds-based regeneration specialists, Shine, the aim is to redevelop Unity Hall – much of which has been disused for over a decade - into a workspace that mixes business with music, theatre, exhibitions and meetings.

Plans include a 650-seater venue, an 80-seater function room, 12,000 square feet of office space 3,500 square feet of meeting space and a café on Westgate with reception, exhibition space and independent retail opportunities. It will also offer a creative hub for the city’s entrepreneurs. The venue was used in the 1980s for gigs which brought The Specials and Def Leppard to the city.

The scheme has also received support from Leeds Metropolitan University and Wakefield Council.

To download the prospectus visit unityhallwakefield.co.uk Email chris.hill@unityhallwakefield.co.uk or telephone 0113 388 0000.

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