Former “doss house” hotel subject to a new planning application

A retrospective planning application has been submitted to allow the former Black Swan on Westgate to continue to be used as a low cost multiple occupancy (HMO) home for the destitute.

The building, which is Grade II listed, has been the subject of debate over its shabby appearance and is described by current claimant Julius Oluokun as previously being used as a ‘substandard hotel’ which closed in 2018/19 .

Indeed, peeling paint on the masonry and sills of the three-story building left the exterior of the building in a dilapidated state.

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The former Black Swan Hotel on Westgate.

And while some online reviews of the building were favourable, one former guest simply said, “Not a hotel. Doss house with broken windows and broken fire escape doors.

“Another dive into a run-down part of Wakefield.”

The building is currently being used as an HMO, but the application, if approved, will endorse its status.

Plans show 13 bedrooms, most of which are ensuite, with shared living and kitchen areas for individuals or couples who applicants say “unfortunately do not immediately meet or qualify for social housing”.

The building was constructed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and is within the Lower Westgate Conservation Area.

It was classified as a historical monument in 1953 due to its particular architectural or historical interest.

The applicant’s proposed changes to the interior are not part of the listing status, raising questions as to whether any work will be carried out on the much-maligned exterior part of the building, which still bears the name of the old hotel.

The report submitted to the planners reads: “Unfortunately the owner has attempted to paint the exterior and the exterior is marred by a half finished paint finish.

“The use of the hotel has proven unsustainable trying to compete with modern chain operators offering better modern facilities on a budget.

“We submit that the new submission espouses this decision in that the current HMO provides, in need, although not permitted under planning legislation, unprivileged persons.

“The approval of the existing use would allow the building a form of conservation which would disappear if this approval were rejected.

“The candidates are committed to providing housing for the neglected community of Wakefield, sadly overlooked by local authorities.

“His refusal would result in abandonment and probable unauthorized occupation.”

Authorization was granted in 2013 to transform the hotel into a student residence, but the work was never carried out.

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