New chapter for library as home to bathroom firm

THE transformation of Dewsbury's former library could be the first of many projects by an ambitious developer who wants to invest millions of pounds in the town.

Tahir Zaman, aged just 32, says he wants to spend 15m on town centre buildings in the next five years.

But the Grade Two listed old library - which is to be the new home of Nelson Street Bathrooms - has a special place in his heart.

"I used to come here and do my homework," said Mr Zaman, who grew up in Upper Road, Batley Carr.

Twelve years ago he was unemployed: his success stems from a house he bought and redeveloped in 1995.

He bought the Victorian former library in Wellington Road a month ago for an undisclosed sum.

"When I saw this building I just thought, people should be able to come round this building and see it.

"Either we could have left it and it gone into disrepair, or somebody could have come in, like Nelson Street, and it can still be here for the next 40 or 50 years," he said.

"We heard they wanted bigger premises close by and put two and two together."

The building previously re-opened as a bar, and was most recently being marketed as executive offices.

Renovations are now underway in preparation for Nelson Street's move, expected to be in about two months. Period features like oak panelling, handmade tiles and column radiators are being restored and kept.

Paul Delaney, founder of Nelson Street Bathrooms and co-owner, with Paul West, said five more staff would be employed - nearly doubling the six there now - and the library provided room for more displays, including hot tubs and steam cabinets.

He said: "This project will bring money from outside Dewsbury, into Dewsbury."

He said there were also plans to convert the Nelson Street premises, where the bathroom business has been for four years, into 10 flats.

Mr Zaman said: "Everybody is really going for Dewsbury, property prices have shot through the roof.

"I think we are going to get to a time in the next five years when all the empty buildings should be occupied. We have been to the worst and now there is no choice but to go up."

Coun Khizar Iqbal, Dewsbury Area Committee's new chairman, said this was exactly the kind of project to attract businesses to the town.

He said it would be part of a patch of regeneration, stretching from the new health centre on the Victoria Centre site to Nelson Street.

"What we have to do is promote Dewsbury to business people. I believe there's potential for businesses here provided we can send that image to the business community," he said.

"Leeds is only six or seven miles away and billions of pounds are currently being invested there."

He said he planned to set up a business forum and organise an event for businessmen.