Northgate Closure Proposal

Wakefield Council recently announced a proposal to close Northgate to traffic from the Bull Ring to the junction with Providence Street and Cross Street for a period of six months. On-road parking spaces along Northgate from Cross Street to Rishworth Street will also be suspended during this period.

This is an experimental closure intended to help with the re-opening of the city centre and to allow restaurants and cafés in the vicinity to serve food to their customers at tables set up outside. The Council will take comments during the trial and consider making changes as considered necessary.

The Society’s view on the proposal

In broad terms, the Society supports the Council’s proposal.

Kevin Trickett, president of the Society said:

“The Society has been calling for increased pedestrianisation of the city centre, particularly around the Bull Ring area, for some time so the current proposal is a step in that direction.

“Many of the vehicles travelling via the Bull Ring are just passing through – they bring nothing to the city centre except congestion and pollution and much of the through traffic could find other routes around the city – for example via Marsh Way, Mulberry Way and Drury Lane.

“We appreciate that the Northgate proposal is a temporary measure, introduced as a direct response to help open up the city centre as lockdown eases, and it is far from a perfect arrangement, but we understand that there was an opportunity here for the Council to secure funding from central government and it had to move quickly to do so.

“In theory, this proposal should allow those cafés and restaurants along Northgate that wish to do so to serve customers outdoors; it just wouldn’t be possible to do that without reducing traffic flow and removing some of the parking spaces as the pavements aren’t wide enough to allow it, particularly when there is an ongoing requirement to maintain social distancing.

“Inevitably, this will take some getting used to and we can understand that some businesses might have concerns. Indeed, the Council may need to modify the proposals over time once they see how they work in practice, but it will serve as a useful experiment to test whether people prefer more space being given over to pedestrians.

“Many towns and cities are making similar arrangements right now, both on a temporary basis as here in Wakefield and also as part of more permanent solutions to reduce traffic and to improve the quality of the environment and public realm. We hope that, in due course, the Wakefield Council will go further.

“Unlike some larger cities, Wakefield has a relatively compact city centre which should lend itself well to further pedestrianised areas but we need a complete package with traffic calming measures, changes to bus routes, provision for delivery and emergency vehicles and disabled access being included in the overall design.

“Some people may recall that traffic used to be allowed to travel in both directions along upper Kirkgate until the area was first pedestrianised in the mid-1970s. I recall some people expressing misgivings about that scheme when it was first mooted but I doubt anyone would want to see traffic being allowed back into the ‘Cathedral precinct’ which is one of the most attractive parts of the city centre today complete with landscaping and mature trees where once there used to be cars”.

Wakefield’s Cathedral Precinct on a sunny Sunday evening in late spring.

Safety first – Civic Society President gives cautious welcome to the re-opening of city centre businesses

Speaking about the news that the government was to allow some businesses to re-open following an easement to the lockdown measures, Wakefield Civic Society President Kevin Trickett MBE said:

“Wakefield Civic Society welcomes the gradual easing of the lockdown conditions. We need to see Wakefield opening for business once again – but it must be done in such a way that ensures people can go about that business in a way that is safe and low risk. Yes, it will be good for people to be able to get out and about again, but we must not jeopardise people’s health and safety, otherwise the last two months will have been for nothing. Too many people have suffered, and died, because of this awful virus. Let’s not forget that as we slowly start to ease back into something approaching normal.

“Of course, opening shops is only part of the story. Many of the businesses in the catering and hospitality trade, such as hotels, bars and restaurants, will remain closed for now; similarly our cultural venues such as galleries, cinemas and theatres are some way off returning to ‘business as usual’. We have great sympathy for those businesses that can for now only look at the calendar and wonder when they too will be able to resume operation, but we have to adopt a safety-first approach and we urge the government to continue offering financial support wherever it is needed. These businesses and cultural organisations have helped to make our town and city centres great places in which to relax and to enjoy life with our families and friends. In the fulness of time, we need them to bounce back, to resume where they left off, and to bring back joyfulness and richness to our lives.

“Until that time comes, we congratulate those business and cultural organisations that have found innovative ways to keep going in one way or another, whether it be offering goods and services on-line, delivery and takeaway services, or providing entertainment through their websites and social media outlets.”

Our New Brand!

Wakefield Civic Society has today launched a new brand designed by Wakefield design agency, Rhubarb Design House.

The new brand which will appear on all the Society’s new publications, and correspondence as well as on-line, was created as part of partnership arrangement agreed with the agency, one of the Society’s new corporate members.

Speaking about the new brand, Society president Kevin Trickett said “When I was first elected as president in 2002, the Society spent some time thinking about what it did and how we could promote that to the public. We devised a brand for the Society which has served us well but it was beginning to look a bit stale and it needed updating so I was delighted when Rhubarb Design House first approached us with their offer and we are very pleased with the result. We have just updated our website and also launched a new Instagram account so the new brand will be found across all our sites, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as in our printed material. It’s really important for the Society to maintain a public profile that reflects the wide range of things we do and the interests we have.”

Rhubarb Design Agency was founded by Alex McIntosh and James Lodge and is based at The Art House on Drury Lane, Wakefield.

Alex and James have both lived in Wakefield nearly all their lives. James explained “We have always been captivated by both the history and development of our wonderful city. We first encountered Kevin, and his passion for the city, on an Art Walk several years ago. Since then, it has always been in the back of our minds that we would one day like to join the society and have a hand in shaping the future of Wakefield.

“We launched our new design studio in the city last year and this seemed like the perfect time to join the society as corporate members and offer our design expertise. We were keen to help raise the profile of Wakefield Civic Society, as we are conscious that not everyone in the city is aware of who they are and what they do. They are a vital part in helping the city develop, which is something we both feel very passionate about.

“Late last year we broached the subject of a rebrand with the idea of creating a new logo which better reflected the society. Whilst the previous logo had sentimental meaning (being based on one of the Society’s first ever restoration projects from the 1960s), it wasn’t obviously recognisable and didn’t really reflect the work of the Society as a whole.

“The new logo aims to show the varied role that the society plays in the city. The shield shape hints at tradition, whereas the contemporary illustration style is clean and ensures the logo stands out, especially in digital formats. We are absolutely thrilled with the outcome and hope that the new branding gains more exposure for the society and ultimately helps them attract new members!”

For more information about Rhubarb Design House, have a look at their website.

Wakefield Civic Society President to host series of interviews on behalf of the national movement

As a result of the current coronavirus epidemic, the Society has no events planned at present.

However, our president, Kevin Trickett MBE has been asked by Civic Voice to host a series of ‘In Conversation with’ interviews where each week he will speak to a person with a background in planning, architecture, design, heritage or regeneration using Zoom video conferencing.

The interviews began on 6th May when Kevin interviewed planning consultant Graham Galpin. On 14th May, Kevin interviewed Bob Colenutt, lecturer and author of a new book The Property Lobby.

If you would like to observe one of these interviews, you will need to book tickets via the Civic Voice Eventbrite page which also lists the interviews so far arranged – please note that new dates are being added all the time.

Wakefield Civic Society Cancels events

13th March 2020

Wakefield Civic Society has today announced that it is cancelling all its events until further notice in response to the coronavirus epidemic. This means that the meeting scheduled for Thursday, 19th March at Wakefield Town Hall when Louisa Brooks of City and Provincial Properties was due to talk about the development of Rutland Mills will not now take place.

Society president Kevin Trickett MBE said that it was most unfortunate that the talk had to be cancelled as it had attracted a great deal of interest from members of the Society and the general public and over 120 people had expressed interest in attending. “Obviously, the development of Rutland Mills is a hugely important project for the city and one which we are all excited about. We hope that we can hold the talk later in the year. However, for now, the people’s safety is important, hence the decision to cancel not just this meeting but other events we had planned, including our Annual General Meeting and Awards Evening scheduled for 23rd April.

“We are looking at how we might switch some of our events on-line; it looks very much as if the committee will be meeting via video conference for the foreseeable future.”

Wakefield Civic Society launches Instagram account

March 2020

Wakefield Civic Society has today set up an Instagram account to add to its existing Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Society president Kevin Trickett MBE said that while this may not seem a particularly momentous announcement, it is an important part of our social media strategy to reach out to a wider audience beyond our traditional membership.

We are an active and successful civic society but we need to be able to show and tell people what we do; the more people who know about our work, the better. Not only people be able to find out about we are doing via our website and social media accounts, they will also hear about our programme of events – many of which are open to the general public and are often free to attend.

We plan to use our Instagram account to show Wakefield at its best. One of our committee members, Fay Dell, is running the account for us and is collecting photographs of Wakefield’s architecture and natural beauty to showcase the city to our growing number of followers on social media. Fay has asked that Wakefield Civic Society members send her any photographs of the city that they would like to see published on-line.

Wakefield Civic Society welcomes new corporate member – Architecture 1B.

March 2020

The Society today welcomes Architecture 1B as one of its growing band of corporate members.

Architecture 1B is a small bespoke architectural practice based in Horbury. The company was formed at the end of 2012 by Darren Bailey who has over 20 years’ experience and has worked at some of the North’s largest architectural practices delivering projects of varying scale and sectors, such as Headingley cricket ground and central square in Newcastle. In 2003 Darren was a founding member of Leeds based practice architecture 2B alongside Nick Brown which was commended with various awards.

Wakefield Civic Society president Kevin Trickett MBE said “We are delighted to welcome Darren as a corporate member. Darren has worked with us before and has from time to time turned to us on behalf of his clients for our thoughts on projects he has been working on in Wakefield, a really good example of how developers and their architects and designers can work co-operatively with civic societies. Not only is he helping to bring some exciting new projects to our area but, in becoming a corporate member of the Society, he is showing support for what we do as a community organisation.”

The Society offers three categories of Corporate Membership, details of which can be found here.

Wakefield Civic Society joins Wakefield Town Deal Board

January 2020

Wakefield Civic Society has been invited to join Wakefield’s newly established Town Deal Board. The Board, part of Wakefield’s High Street Task Force, is made up of representatives from Wakefield’s public, private and third sector organisations and will support Wakefield Council as it develops a strategy to facilitate revitalisation of the city centre. The Board will also assist the council in attracting new inward investment, including grant applications under the Future High Streets Fund, Heritage Action Zone and Towns Fund initiatives.

The Board will oversee the development and subsequent implementation of a city centre masterplan while ensuring a diverse range of voices and perspectives are fed into the discussions.

Wakefield Civic Society president Kevin Trickett MBE, who will represent the Society on the Board, said that he was delighted to take part and considered that the invitation extended to the Society was a tribute to the Society’s reputation for being a knowledgeable and constructive contributor to the ongoing discussions about how the city centre should develop. He added “The Society was established in 1964 and has been actively engaged in many of the debates about what should happen in Wakefield ever since. We recognise that cities have to evolve to take account of changing lifestyles and that we have to move with the times, but we also recognise that Wakefield has a fine range of historic buildings which we wish to see preserved even though they will often have to find new uses to meet the challenges of a modern city centre.”