Yorkshire heritage campaigners say ‘clock is ticking’ on saving crumbling Grade II-listed mansion due to strict planning conditions

The clock is ticking on a beautiful historic building left derelict for several years, campaigners have warned.

Grade II-listed Woolley Hall is falling into “rack and ruin” and needs to be repurposed and rescued soon, a local residents group concerned for its plight say.

The hall, situated on the outskirts of the village of Woolley itself, to the southof Wakefield, was built in the early 17th century.

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Owned for centuries by the wealthy Wentworth family, Wakefield Council took over the building in 1947.

Woolley Hall entrance

Having been used as a college of further education, it later became a wedding and conference venue, but has now been empty and unused for some time.

The Woolley Village Residents Association claimed strict conditions imposed by the council’s planning department, and Historic England, were putting buyers off.

The council said it was “pro-actively” trying to preserve the building and bring it back into use.

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But Andrew Jones, chair of the residents’ association, said: “It’s been unoccupied and derelict for quite a few years now.

“The place is falling to rack and ruin. Whenever any of us are walking round it or playing golf around there, the question we’re all asking is, ‘What the hell is happening here?’

“We’re worried that if it’s left much longer it will be too late to save it. It was built in 1635 and there’s so much history.”

The group said the fabric of the house is “deteriorating alarmingly” and that “creative and pragmatic thinking” was needed from the council to save it.

Mr Jones suggested the venue could be sympathetically converted into a residential home, retirement village or apartments.

He warned that unless it is saved imminently, “Our wonderful, historic Grade II building will be lost for ever and that would be a tragedy.”

Bronwen Knight, the council’s service director for planning, said: “We fully share the Woolley Village Residents Association desire to see our heritage preserved and brought back into use.

“Given its historical status, it is extremely important that a sensitive, yet viable future use is found for the hall which preserves both the architectural and historical interest of the buildings, together with the surrounding historic landscape and conservation area.

“The current condition of the hall is being closely monitored, and the council is pro-actively exploring all opportunities to preserve and safeguard the long-term future of this incredibly important heritage asset to Wakefield.”