More than 1000 people object to plans to bulldoze one of Wakefield’s oldest buildings

More than 1000 people have objected to plans to bulldoze one of Wakefield’s oldest buildings.

Wakefield Council has been inundated with complaints about the proposal to demolish The Old Vicarage and build a car park.

The property, which dates back the 14th century, could be flattened before the end of this month if the scheme is approved.

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Part of the building is used as the headquarters of the local Tory party association.

Wayne Miller, owner of Division 24 skateboard shop, has run his business at The Old Vicarage since 2001.Wayne Miller, owner of Division 24 skateboard shop, has run his business at The Old Vicarage since 2001.
Wayne Miller, owner of Division 24 skateboard shop, has run his business at The Old Vicarage since 2001.

It is also occupied by small independent businesses who rent space in the property.

Objections have been made over the potential loss of a heritage site.

Others have written in support of the business owners based in the building.

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Some also say the plan goes against the council’s long-term ambition to reduce car use and congestion in the city centre.

Wayne Miller, owner of Division 24 skateboard shop, said traders had been overwhelmed by the public reaction since being made aware of the plan last week.

He said: “I am absolutely astounded by the support and backing we have received from organisations and individuals from the local area and afar, with over 1,000 objections and still rising.

“I don’t think the local residents and other businesses on Zetland Street and Vicarge Street are even aware of the happenings yet either, because there are no visible notification signs on any of the lampposts around the property.

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“Aside from the obvious historical significance, some of the comments have touched on some very interesting points.”

The property, which dates back to 1349, was bought on behalf of the Conservative Party by a body of trustees almost a century ago..

Naeem Formuli, chair of Wakefield and Rothwell Conservative Association, has said the building is still held in trust on behalf of the party.

Mr Formuli, one of four trustees for the property, told the Local Democracy Reporting Servce last week: “The building has not been sold to anyone else and we don’t want to take any decision over its future in haste.

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“This process was instigated by previous trustees but we will weigh up the options for the building when we know the outcome of the application.”

The building was the vicarage for Wakefield parish church, which became a cathedral in 1888.

The exact age of the property is uncertain but a vicarage was first designated by William de la Zouch, the Archbishop of York, in 1349.

The Old Vicarage has long been rumoured to have links to a network of tunnels hidden beneath the city centre.

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The property is on the council’s list of buildings of local interest but does not have a national listing with English Heritage.

Tony Homewood, a former trustee, said the building is “an appalling state of repair”.

He said: “At the end of the day the building is structurally unsound and while it might be old it is not of a standard that warrants listing.

“It would cost tens of thousands of pounds to put this into effect and it is not economically viable to do so.

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“The truth of it is, the trust wants to sell it because it is time to move on.”

The number of objections to the scheme reached four figures in just five days.

One objector said: “This building houses a legendary skateboard shop and it would be a great detriment to the cultural history of Wakefield if it were to be lost.

“Skateboarding is now recognised at the Olympics as a major international sport.

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“Its history is indelibly linked to urban spaces such as this building. Shops such as these form the heart of the skateboarding community in areas like Wakefield.”

Another resident said: “The Old Vicarage is a building of cultural and historical interest in Wakefield.

Wakefield Council has a poor track record of maintaining the institutions that support small start-up businesses.

“First, the old market site and market hall were demolished, and its replacement failed, now they are considering the demolition of this building.

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“The building should be sustained and the businesses it houses supported.”

Another commented: “Whilst other towns and cities celebrate and care for historical buildings, Wakefield has hardly any left and to be turned into a car park is really beyond belief.

“If the future is to keep cars out of cities, why get rid of this ancient building to build a car park? Once gone, it can never be replaced.”

Members of the public have until April 23 to comment on the plans

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