Campaigners welcome new vision for Grade II listed Woolley Hall after Wakefield Council takes it off the market

An historic Grade II listed building left empty for years could be reborn as a classy wedding venue and spa, under ambitious plans.

Woolley Hall was built in the 17th century on the outskirts of the rural village of Woolley, close to the Wakefield-Barnsley border.

Campaigners recently warned that the much-loved building, valued at around £2.5m until it was recently taken off the market, was falling to "rack and ruin".

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The venue, which is owned by Wakefield Council and was latterly used for weddings and conferences, having been a college of further education previously.

The listed building was put up in the 17th century.

Now, the council has outlined its vision to restore Woolley Hall, which belonged to the Wentworth family for centuries beforehand, to its former glory.

The authority's leader, Denise Jeffery, said she wants the venue to become a modernised wedding, spa and afternoon tea venue.

A third party is likely to be brought in to run a restaurant at the hall, which would be open to the public.

Councillor Jeffery said: "I love Woolley Hall, it’s a fabulous place.

More detailed plans will emerge later this year.

In the past we put up for sale. I never wanted to do it, but times were tough.

"It’s a Grade II listed building, and it belongs to people of the district and it matters to people."

Coun Jeffery said the only private developers who'd shown any interest in the venue had wanted to convert Woolley Hall into apartments, with the caveat that extra houses would have been built in the grounds.

She said the council had baulked at that proposal, believing it "would ruin the place."

She added: "We’ve been beavering away and we’ve pulled away from the people who wanted to buy it.

"We’ve had the heating on all the time to safeguard it.

"We’re hoping to do it ourselves, but if we can’t we’re looking for sympathetic partner.

"We don’t want to do anything to destroy the ambience of the place."

A planning application with more details is likely to be submitted in the coming months.

Andrew Jones, the chair of Woolley Residents Association, said the council's "vision and enthusiasm" for the building was "refreshing and exciting".

He said: "The aim now is to make it an attractive venue for the people of Wakefield and local residents in and around Woolley village by breathing new life into this historic building again along with the opportunity of helping startup businesses in some of the outbuildings.”

“I was reassured about the present state of the Hall with a tour around it (recently). I saw that a considerable amount of work has already been carried out to preserve it.”

Local Democracy Reporting Service