Grey Horse pub, Wakefield: ‘Unsympathetic’ plans to convert historic former coaching inn to offices rejected

Plans to convert a derelict former 19th Century coaching inn to offices have been rejected.

Council officers said the proposals for the old Grey Horse pub, in Wakefield, would “destroy the building’s historical interest.” The building, situated on Kirkgate at the southern entrance to the city centre, was built in 1836. It was described as an “ale house and saddlery” when the first licence was granted in the mid-nineteenth century.

The pub also had historic links to Wakefield Kirkgate railway station, which was constructed around the same time. The business was run by the same family for more than 50 years and was developed to service the nearby station. Trading stopped at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and the pub never reopened.

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Wakefield Property Group applied to operate an estate agents, mortgage broker and lettings services on the ground floor, with offices above. The site is next to the Wakefield Waterfront conservation area.

Plans to convert the former Grey Horse pub, on Kirkgate, Wakefield, into offices have been rejected.Plans to convert the former Grey Horse pub, on Kirkgate, Wakefield, into offices have been rejected.
Plans to convert the former Grey Horse pub, on Kirkgate, Wakefield, into offices have been rejected.

A panning statement submitted to Wakefield Council on behalf of the applicant said: “Business has deteriorated in recent history and we understand that, pre-covid, the public house was generally in decline due to its location and the change in pub culture. The existing building was unfortunately vandalised during closure along with water damage caused by roof leaks.”

The statement adds: “We respectfully submit that the current building has no impact on the conservation area and detracts from the locality. The development will bring the building back into use and benefit the area along with removing the derelict structure.”

The application was turned down after the council’s conservation officer rasied concerns.

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The officer said the proposed scheme would “destroy the building’s historic interest and significance” and would create “a high scale of harm.”

A report states: “There does not appear to have been any attempt to respect the historic character of the building through a sympathetic conversion. Whilst there are some identifiable public benefits in securing a new use for the building, this does not outweigh the harm incurred through the proposed alterations.”

The officer said the plan was “not supported from a heritage impact perspective.”

One resident objected to the plan, saying: “This building contributes significantly to the cultural heritage of our community. Altering it beyond recognition may diminish our sense of community and pride in our heritage. The building has the potential to attract tourists and serve as an educational resource for schools and local history enthusiasts. Preserving it in its original form enhances these opportunities.”