Pontefract Civic Society hosted a special ceremony at the town hall on Weds 29 Jan, 2020, to commend the efforts of business owners, landlords, architects, contractors, funders and Wakefield Council by presenting eight framed certificates and the Countess of Rosse Façade of the Year plaque with that going to Brad Walton, owner of The Gentleman’s Quarter on Market Place.
Paul Cartwright, Chair of Pontefract Civic Society said, “Pontefract town centre is in great shape when many towns and cities are failing. We have a higher than average occupancy rate, aspirations are rising via regeneration projects, good quality buildings and businesses, entertainment, including a social housing project. We were therefore incredibly impressed by The Gentleman’s Quarter traditional shop front and attention to detail matching the vibe of the business and its internal decor.”
Eight awards were made to five projects which came out on top in the eyes of the judging panel from our Planning Group, having whittled down a shortlist of 14 projects. The winners were rightly recognised for their investment of time and money, their creativity of design and innovation, and clear attention to detail, not to mention sustaining businesses and cultural destinations which are second to none.
The owners of each of our Special Commendations took risks with the scale of building regeneration from the ground to the roof, namely, gateway buildings such as the Magistrates Market and the Blue Bell, and all four floors of The Gentleman’s Quarter; each of the three winning buildings were completely gutted and brought back to the vibrant life that Pontefract is, today.
The Regeneration Award has to include a change of business use, and this went to the Magistrates Market recognising the complete revamp of the interior delivering a catalyst for culture, tourism and giving small business tenants a leg up.
Wakefield District Housing won hands down in the Residential Award category delivering 12 new dormer bungalows including open plan living, a ground floor bedroom and a wet room, with a first floor bedroom and bathroom; this was a creative use of space by our local social housing provider, and all the work has been completed to a very high standard.
The Heritage Award was a two-horse race between Pontefract Castle and the Magistrates Market, with the former taking home the prize thanks to the significant conservation work which ensured that Pontefract Castle was removed from the national Heritage at Risk Register, thanks to Wakefield Council, their contractors and funders, together with support from elected members, staff and volunteers.
The Improvement Award had four nominated projects though one which stood out the most was the Blue Bell, which after many years of neglect was brought back to life highlighting this key visible business to passing visitors who we’re sure will see Pontefract and the Blue Bell are attractive places to stay a while. The building was re-roofed, trees were removed, front and rear beer gardens enhanced with antique-style lamp standards, the original pub name was brought back, and the interior styling and use of space are a wow!
The awards presented on the night celebrated projects completed from Nov 2018 up to 31 Oct, 2019, relating to improvements in shop fronts, business & public spaces, architecture & design, and place-making using the following categories and criteria:
- Countess of Rosse Facade of the Year (shop front)
- Special Commendation (property or public space)
- Regeneration Award (catalyst for retail expansion & footfall)
- Residential Award (creating attractive, distinctive, quality dwellings)
- Heritage Award (enhances Pontefract’s heritage)
- Improvement Award (attractiveness or character of the property)
Paul went onto say, “I am incredibly pleased with these projects and proud that Pontefract Civic Society can highlight these business and Pontefract Castle as success stories, when some people want to knock the town; Pontefract is definitely bucking the trend!”
Medlock Photography is thanked for ceremony photography.
Businesses, community groups, youth groups, and residents can join the civic society, which is a membership-based charity, please visit the website at www.pontefractcivicsociety.org.uk.