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Hotel project near Yorkshire Sculpture Park delayed by pandemic

Work to build a hotel next to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park has been delayed.

Plans to redevelop the site’s empty ‘Grasshopper’ building on Wakefield’s famous old Bretton Hall site, which was once used to accommodate teaching students, were given the go-ahead in May 2020.

Rushbond, owners of Leeds’ Corn Exchange, and hospitality firm Artfarm, were involved in the proposals, with hopes that the scheme would boost the Sculpture Park as a tourist attraction.

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But Wakefield Council has now said that the scheme has fallen behind schedule because of the pandemic.

A Cabinet paper on the project went before senior councillors last week, but the document was deemed to be commercially sensitive and so it has not been made public.

But the authority’s Cabinet member for regeneration has said that the hotel will still eventually be built as the developers are working with the “same plans as before”.

Asked about the issue on Facebook Q&A session run by the council, Coun Darren Byford said more information would be released soon.

He said: “Covid has caused massive delays to projects over the last 15 to 16 months.

“Bretton Hall is one of those projects that’s suffered because of the delays in being able to have meaningful conversations with the developers, and because the developers haven’t been able to come forward with the plans in the timescale we wanted.

“Things are still going to happen.”

Bretton College opened at the hall in 1949 and for decades offered teacher training as well as courses in art and design, music and performance.

In 2001, it merged with the University of Leeds, which it remained part of for six years until its closure in 2007.

Other neighbouring buildings around the would-be-hotel have since been demolished.

Coun Byford added: “Over the next few weeks we’ll be releasing up-to-date plans with what we intend for that site, working with the existing developers and working with the same plans we had before, just with a new timescale.

“So all I can say is watch this space.”

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