Dewsbury Arcade restoration gets support from councillor calling it a 'catalyst for change'

A leading Dewsbury councillor has backed the restoration of The Arcade describing it as a “catalyst for change.”

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 1:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 1:32 pm

A leading Dewsbury councillor has backed the restoration of The Arcade describing it as a “catalyst for change.”

The Grade II-listed Victorian building, which links Corporation Street and Market Place in Dewsbury, is currently being restored by Kirklees Council at a cost of £2.3 million.

A not-for-profit community benefit community – called ‘The Arcade – Dewsbury’ – is seeking to take on the lease when the renovation is complete in 2022.

Work inside the Dewsbury Arcade
Work inside the Dewsbury Arcade

The plan would be to rent out the 17 small shop units to independent artisan and creative businesses at affordable rents, making The Arcade a destination in its own right.

Support is growing for the plan and Clr Eric Firth, the Dewsbury East Labour councillor who is also chairman of Dewsbury Forward, has thrown his weight behind the restoration.

He said: “This will be a great opportunity for local small businesses in a central location with lots of support.

“And with the backing of the Dewsbury public, who have been demanding we do something, I believe The Arcade will have a bright future.”

The Arcade dates back to 1889 and its glazed ironwork roof is a stunning internal feature. In recent years there was little investment in the building and it fell into decline. Shops gradually closed and The Arcade was finally forced to lock its gates in 2016.

Kirklees Council carried out a compulsory purchase last year and Clr Firth said: “I have been trying to find a solution for several years to have The Arcade restored to its former glory. Believe me, the council took some persuading. I was told time after time it was a white elephant.

“But eventually they came to realise that if we are serious about regenerating Dewsbury, then The Arcade can be the catalyst for change.

“The community benefit company a great idea, and with enthusiastic people behind it there’s no reason why it shouldn’t succeed.”