Kirklees Council threatens court action over Dewsbury eyesores

BATTLE LINES: The owners of McKinnan's Mill are challenging council legal notices to make repairs. (d12011146)
BATTLE LINES: The owners of McKinnan's Mill are challenging council legal notices to make repairs. (d12011146)

THE owners of two run-down buildings blighting key routes into Dewsbury are facing court battles.

Kirklees Council had turned to legal powers in a bid to force them to tidy up their buildings.

Now the owners of McKinnan’s Mill in Earlsheaton and 60/62 Wakefield Road – both on a Dewsbury Regeneration Board hit list – are appealing.

But the prospect of two court hearings later this month has not dampened council efforts to forge ahead with plans and add to the hit list.

A new customer service centre will open in the town soon following a significant refurbishment of the Walsh Building.

And the cabinet agreed on Tuesday to widen the scope of its £750,000 enforcement strategy designed to improve the town’s appearance.

It added three more buildings to the hit list, extended its shopfront grant scheme and asked officers to tackle flyposting, graffiti and littering.

The latest additions to the list are the old Co-op funeral parlour in Northgate, Money Generator in Halifax Road and Asquith’s Mill in Earlsheaton. Council leader Coun Mehboob Khan (Lab) said: “This is a strategy to make Dewsbury more attractive for investors and visitors. No other town in Kirklees has the benefit of this type of strategy or this type of resource, and that’s because Dewsbury is an important priority for us.”

The council isn’t the only organisation keen to see changes made.

Princess of Wales Precinct owner Ravenhill Estates has been given permission to remove canopies and refurbish the front of its shops in Longcauseway.

And Dewsbury Town Team is looking at different ways to bring empty stores back into use, including a community cinema. The cinema would open for a long weekend in early summer to see if there is demand for something more permanent.

Next month, the town team and regeneration board will also learn if their bid for a £98,000 Portas Pilot grant has been successful.

The Government cash could be used to refurbish up to four shops for community use or business incubators, and offer rates relief to new businesses.

Town team chairwoman Christine Starmer said: “What we’re trying to do is bring new life into the town centre. We’re trying projects that show other organisations and investors what could be done.”