Civic Quarter Benefits from Academic Expertise

Two academics from Leeds Beckett University are providing support in the development of an Urban Design Framework for Wakefield’s historic civic quarter.

The proposed transformation of the city’s former police station into a high quality hotel is the focal point for Landscape Architecture and Urban Design Lecturer and doctoral researcher Richard MacCowan, as well as Senior Lecturer in Human Geography and Planning, Dr Lindsay Smales.

Following the positive feedback from last year’s public consultation, the Urban Design Framework proposal is now coming to its conclusion.

Richard MacCowan said:

“The basis of the work is the analysis of the existing qualities of Wakefield’s civic quarter, creating a set of design principles before producing a number of design options for potential delivery.

“As part of the process we had to take into account creative development, giving careful consideration on whether to demolish and replace existing buildings and structures of poor quality, especially those that may be viewed as insensitive to their local context and out of scale with their immediate neighbours. We also had to take into account that future development must sensitively respond to and respect the scale and character of existing buildings.

“Our brief was also to take the opportunity to look at opening up new through routes connecting the city’s Northgate with Gill’s Yard, and to consider both of these spaces in connection with Wood Street, so that pedestrians can easily move between them.”

Assistance has also been provided by students from the MA Urban Design and PGDip Landscape Architecture programmes.

The students have been given presentations and tours by members of the council’s development team, while Richard and Lindsay have also worked with the council to complete the Wakefield Kirkgate Urban Design Framework and Knottingley Town Centre Framework.

Richard added:

“The next stage of this project will see a number of feasibility studies undertaken prior to detailed design work by architects and landscape designers.”