Town heritage is still at risk

Hopton Congregational Church Mirfield.100702
Hopton Congregational Church Mirfield.100702
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DEWSBURY’S conservation area is deteriorating, English Heritage has warned.

The organisation’s annual Heritage At Risk Register says the conservation area, which covers most of the town centre, is in a ‘very bad’ state.

It is one of five places in Dewsbury and Mirfield to be featured in the list of historic sites needing protection.

English Heritage’s historic buildings and areas advisor Kath Gibson said: “We know the council is putting a lot of effort into addressing the problems in Dewsbury, but it’s a long term thing and there is no quick fix, particularly with the economic climate at the moment.”

A new addition to the register this year is Christ Church in Staincliffe. The Grade II listed building is noted as being in a poor condition, but grant-aided repairs to the tower and masonry have been carried out, with further repairs planned.

Father Anthony Howe said: “The church is 144 years old and nothing had been done to repair the building in all that time.

“It’s all in hand, but people can’t take these places for granted. Like a lot of things, they need a little bit of cosmetic surgery from time to time.”

Hopton Congregational Church, another Grade II listed building, has been on the register since 2008.

English Heritage is supporting its conversion into a home.

Historic sites also on the register are Thornhill Hall moat in Thornhill and Castle Hall Hill motte and bailey in Mirfield.

But Dewsbury conservation area remains local site in the poorest state.

The conservation area was set up in 1977 with the aim of protecting the town centre’s special character and appearance. It was extended in 2009.

Earlier that year, it had appeared on the At Risk list.

Dewsbury Regeneration Board chairman Coun Paul Kane welcomed the news at the time, hoping it would help to attract outside funding.

This week, he said he shared English Heritage’s concerns.

Coun Kane (Lab, Dews East) said: “I keep shouting from the rooftops that we need private investors to come in, because the only real major investment that have come are through the local authority, like taking on the Pioneer building.”

He said the council’s shopfront scheme to help part-fund improvements had proved popular and enforcement work was continuing where owners failed to look after properties.

Mrs Gibson said: “The council has made a major commitment to Dewsbury and there is a lot of good will to move forward.”