Kirkgate Station3 min read

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Background & Objectives: 

Kirkgate Station was once described as ‘Britain’s worst station’ with the fabric of the building and urban surrounds in a decayed and unsightly state.

The local newspaper ran a campaign for the refurbishment of the semi-derelict building which was subject to a variety of anti-social behaviour.

Lead by Executive Director Ken Taylor and in partnership with Wakefield Council, the local MP Mary Creagh, Grand Central, Network Rail, Northern Rail, Wakefield and West Yorkshire PTE (Metro) and the Railway Heritage Trust. The regeneration of the station and surrounding landscape was proposed as a showcase for how an old building can be turned into a hive of sustainability and enterprise, with active community involvement.

The redevelopment of the Station was a key component for the Wakefield Council regeneration of the Kirkgate area, in tandem with the new Hepworth Gallery and gateway route into the centre of Wakefield.

Design Solution 

The £3.5 Million project had at its core the plan to retain the station, a Grade II listed building, to provide an urban asset which would set new standards for a station and as a catalyst for the urban regeneration of the Kirkgate area.

The architectural proposals included for combining the best elements of the existing façade and overall built form with the requirement to do the work to the highest levels of current environmental standards. The external landscape was a key part of the redevelopment with the creation of a modern public plaza space with curving stone steps, linking into a wider open landscape frontage.

In tandem with the project works a community engagement project ‘Kirkgate Calling’ provided an opportunity to develop an educational and learning programme for local people and school children. This allowed for an appreciation of the Station and wider railway heritage, and the social, environmental and economic impact on the Kirkgate area and Wakefield during the industrial revolution.

Impact  

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The outstanding Victorian railway building has been renovated and redeveloped to create a significant piece of public realm and an attractive gateway to the city. The magnificent building now offers a contemporary interior with office spaces, six incubation units for new start up enterprises and meeting/conference rooms for local businesses and community use. Provision of a café and retail facility has also been created. The external area has also been regenerated with new set of sweeping steps and access ramp, allowing more accessibility to the building.

Restoration of the station building included recreating lost original features and repairing the existing ornate façade.

The renovation undertaken has achieved a BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating of very good, recognising best practice in sustainable building.

Mark Knight

Landscape Team Leader at Groundwork Yorkshire

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