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Ploughland House, Wakefield

Client: RT Developments Ltd

Local Authority: Wakefield Council

Ploughland House is a Grade II listed 19th century house consisting of three-storeys and a basement, situated prominently along George Street in the centre of Wakefield. It is a substantial detached property constructed in red brick with stone dressings and a slate roof, its former uses including a hotel, public house, police station, and most recently, commercial offices. 

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The Proposal

The proposed development sought to convert the offices into residential use comprising twelve one-bedroom apartments within the existing building envelope. The scheme aimed to retain the majority of the existing historic layout via the introduction of new stud partitions within this space. Measures to improve the thermal efficiency of the building were also proposed, specifically an MVHR system and secondary glazing to the existing historic timber sash windows. 

The Challenges

This development scheme had the challenge of preserving the significance of the listed building whilst allowing extensive subdivision of the space to occur – as necessitated by the change of use of the building. Of particular concern was how MVHR systems could be installed in a way which was sympathetic to the character of the historic building. This meant choosing between exposing the ducts to leave the historic cornicing above visible, or alternatively, the insertion of a new suspended ceiling to hide these ducts. This would simultaneously obscure the historic cornicing and ceiling roses above. The locations of AOV smoke ventilation systems also had to be carefully sited.


The Solutions

Blue Willow Heritage, alongside preparing a Heritage Impact Assessment, provided extensive initial design advice to ensure that the proposed plans remained sympathetic to the listed building. This advice simultaneously aimed to facilitate the change of use including adaptations required by the Building Regulations. Ultimately, the decision to preserve the historic cornicing and ceiling roses in situ beneath inserted suspended ceilings was taken. This to allow appropriate ventilation for the building (necessitated by the installation of fixed secondary glazing to the sash windows) through the insertion of MVHR ducts which would be concealed by the new ceilings.


Initial plans to remove a historic window for the AOV systems were also reconsidered. These AOV systems were instead moved into the roof space which resulted in a lesser impact on the key features of the listed building. To further support the change of use of the building, Blue Willow Heritage’s extensive archival research process allowed a former residential use of the site to be identified when it was known as the ‘Cattle Market Hotel’.

The Outcome

The design advice provided by Blue Willow Heritage allowed the proposal to result in only a neutral impact to the overall significance of the listed building. Therefore, our involvement successfully minimised harm to the listed building whilst enabling sustainable development to occur including the change of use of the building. This allowed the vacant development site to be brought back into a new, viable use consistent with its long-term conservation and original function


The design team for this project comprised Blue Willow Heritage and DMS Architecture.  

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