Merchant Gate, Wakefield, initially known as Wakefield Westgate KDA, is one of three major regeneration projects within the City. The site has provided English Cities Fund with an exciting opportunity to create a new mixed use neighbourhood with connections helping to integrate the City Centre.
The site was formed from the amalgamation of a former rail goods yard, dairy and Council Depot sites and included the demolition of the 1960s unloved extension to County Hall.
A team at careyjones architects led by Simon were tasked with resolving the Councils aspirations to create an "Emerald Link". The site needed to retain a pedestrian friendly environment with links to the centre and neighbouring communities; deemed essential to the formation of the masterplan. The solution avoided excessively wide roads with the introduction of a gyratory one way system which effectively took the road network down from four lanes of traffic to two with a single carriageway for the secondary access routes. Strategically placed raised crossings provide ease of pedestrian movement throughout.
The scheme is given identity and legibility by focusing key routes on the City's landmarks; providing a sense of place to the new development. The tight urban grain of the scheme is punctuated by new open spaces including the new Burgage Square which has been completed as part of phase one for the overall scheme.
Phase one of the development, included principal infrastructure works for the site, a new infill office building on Westgate, together with a further two office buildings and a 66 unit residential building forming a new square. Each of these buildings contains retail and leisure uses to the ground floors providing activity and life to the street frontages and public square.
As part of the development a large 1400 space multi-storey car park adjacent to the main East Coast Rail Line provides rail, residential and public parking.
Future phases will provide further office and residential space together with a possible hotel and a new rail station.