Cash to breathe new life into town centre

A neglected part of Dewsbury town centre could one day look as appealing as thriving historic cities like York, Chester and Bath.

That’s the aim of a £3.7m grant scheme to revamp Dewsbury’s Victorian core and boost the town’s regeneration.

HIGH HOPES John Lambe and Coun Cathy Scott lead an event to promote the Townscape Heritage Initiative. (d534e424)

HIGH HOPES John Lambe and Coun Cathy Scott lead an event to promote the Townscape Heritage Initiative. (d534e424)

A five-year Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) project, jointly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Kirklees Council, officially got underway this week.

Tatty shop fronts currently line the parade along Northgate – and Kirklees THI officer John Lambe said he hoped businesses would do their part to make the town more appealing by applying for funding.

Cash will be given to help new or existing businesses carry out repairs and bring buildings back to their former glory.

It is hoped the offer will also tempt people into Pioneer House, which the Reporter last week revealed no longer has any confirmed tenants.

The derelict former Co-op funeral parlour, Northgate House and the arcades off Northgate have also been identified as key properties.

HLF has provided £2.7m and Kirklees has stumped up another £1m.

Kirklees Council THI officer John Lambe said the area could aspire to look like Leeds’ Victoria Quarter or York.

Frank Lodge, a Dewsbury Photographic Society member, was at the opening event. He praised the scheme, but added: “The difficulty will be getting people into the shops.”

Dewsbury Chamber of Trade treasurer Dudley Ward said: “It’s a help, but it’s a drop in the ocean.”

Property owners and tenants will get up to 90 per cent of their costs from the pot, but the scheme is not compulsory. Mr Lambe said the response so far had been good.

Mr Lambe also hopes to promote awareness and pride in the town’s heritage.

As such, a number of heritage open days will take place between September 11-14.

There will be guided tours of Pioneer House and activities to inform people of the heritage and history of Northgate.

“We want young people to realise that Dewsbury was and can still be a really bustling town,” Mr Lambe said.

“We want to make people feel good about these buildings.”