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Support for £2m project to restore historic buildings

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A £2M project to give neglected city centre buildings a face-lift has been backed by councillors.

Nightclubs and takeaways as well as the Theatre Royal, could be restored under the scheme, which aims to improve the Westgate gateway into the city.

A report to a full Wakefield Council meeting on Wednesday said: “A list of target buildings has been drawn up, identifying those with the greatest architecture and historic significance that are most in need of repair and those whose improvement will have the greatest impact on the Upper Westgate Conservation Area.”

The project was supported by members of the council’s cabinet back in November.

Senior councillors voted in favour of applying for £1.5m in cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Townscape Heritage initiative, designed to regenerate “economically disadvantaged” historic areas. December was the last time the grant was available to apply for.

This week, full council also agreed to back the scheme. Councillors agreed the authority would add £0.5m to contribute to the project’s costs.

The report to Wednesday’s meeting said: “Westgate is an historic route and key gateway into Wakefield.

“It comprises a large number of historic buildings that are under-used, neglected and in need of repair.

“The funding will enable owners to repair their buildings.”

The project will include a mix of Victorian and Georgian buildings formerly used as banks, offices, warehouses and coaching inns, “suffering from a lack of maintenance and decline”.

Cash will also be allocated for producing materials to inform people about the heritage of the area.

Coun Denise Jeffery, cabinet member for economic growth and regeneration, said: “Westgate is an important route into Wakefield and there are a large number of buildings in the conservation area that could benefit from this additional support.”

The scheme will complement the work of Wakefield’s Business Improvement District (BID), which aims to make the city a better place to live, work, visit and do business. If funding is approved, work could start by the end of 2019 and is expected to take up to a year to complete.