Dewsbury Arcade: Victorian arcade in Yorkshire to become UK's first community-owned shopping centre after £127,000 is successfully crowdfunded

Dewsbury Arcade will become the country’s first community-owned shopping centre after a Crowdfunding campaign received £127,500 in donations from 200 investors.
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The amount has been match-funded by stakeholders including Kirklees Council and Co-operative UK, meaning that the Arcade Group – a volunteer-led community benefit society – can now press ahead with their plans.

They intend to convert the Arcade, vacant since 2016, back into a retail focal point for the town centre, with units leased to independent shops, cafes and restaurants.

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The money from the Crowdfunder will go towards start-up costs, as the building has already been purchased by the council, who stepped in to secure the site in 2020 to prevent further decline. They then won a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £4.5million towards its refurbishment.

The exterior of Dewsbury ArcadeThe exterior of Dewsbury Arcade
The exterior of Dewsbury Arcade

Arcade Group director Chris Hill, who owns a local business, said: “We’re thrilled with the response and enthusiasm from the community and would also like to thank Kirklees Council and Co-operatives UK for helping us to achieve this fundraising. This tremendous achievement will allow us to do all that needs to be done to fill the Arcade and manage it properly.

"To have 200 active members behind the project is a great beginning.”

Once restored, the Arcade will have 16 smaller shop units, four larger spaces and eight studios suitable for artists or offices. Refurbishment works on the building are expected to begin in early 2024 with an opening of the revitalised Dewsbury Arcade planned for Easter 2025.

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The Arcade was built in 1899, when Dewsbury’s wool industry was at its height, and is Grade II-listed. It closed after footfall dropped significantly. The Arcage Group has been awarded a 10-year lease to manage the building by the council. Members will be able to approve and reject applications from potential retail tenants depending on their suitability – with an interest in participating in events one of the key criteria.

The eight committee members have already pledged not to allow, takeaways vape shops and nail bars to trade from the Arcade, and want an events programme involving the shopkeepers that will draw in visitors.