Making Dewsbury Arcade great again key focus for community board

A community benefit company wants to take on the lease to The Arcade, Dewsbury’s historic Grade II-listed shopping arcade.

By Martin Shaw
Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 8:57 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 9:00 am

And if the not-for-profit company does secure the building, local people will be invited to buy into the plans, quite literally.

‘The Arcade - Dewsbury’ is a community benefit company aiming to become “preferred bidder” to take on the lease.

The idea is the company will run the building for the benefit of the town. Local people will be invited to buy shares and have a stake in the town’s future.

Sign up to our daily Dewsbury Reporter Today newsletter

Members of ‘The Arcade – Dewsbury’ Steering Group (from left to right): Peter Mason, Natalie Liddle, Sarah Barnes, Keith Shaw, Anis Dadu and Yunus Patel.

Kirklees Council carried out a compulsory purchase in May last year and is currently working on a £2.3 million refurbishment programme set to be completed in 2022.

The re-opening of The Arcade, one of Dewsbury’s grandest - and fondest-remembered – old buildings is seen as a catalyst for the regeneration of the town centre.

The council has put restoration of The Arcade at the heart of its Dewsbury Blueprint, a 10-year plan to regenerate the town.

Chris Hill, a community business specialist who is project manager for The Arcade, said the future was exciting and added: “The Arcade in Dewsbury town centre means so much to so many people.

“The sad decline of this splendid Victorian building was a symbol of the decline of the town centre as a whole.

“In the same way the restoration of this fabulous building can herald the regeneration and rebirth of Dewsbury, making the town somewhere to be proud of once again.”

The Arcade, with its stunning glazed ironwork roof, was built in 1889 and generations of Dewsbury people have happy memories of it.

In recent years the shops gradually became empty and the decaying Arcade suffered a lack of investment and eventually closed its doors in 2016.

The building has 17 small shops book-ended at each corner by four larger three-storey units. There is also a second floor but some of the space is difficult to access, a problem being investigated by BDP Architects, a firm instructed in January 2021.

The plan is to turn the building into a retail, leisure and hospitality destination with the 250 sq ft shops offered to entrepreneurs, artisans, artists and other creatives.

They will all be independents with the drive, passion and enthusiasm to help create an exciting must-visit destination.

Generations of Dewsbury people have fond memories of wandering - in awe - up and down The Arcade. Share your memories with the Reporter Series by emailing [email protected]