Dewsbury landmark Pioneer House was a ‘booby trap’

FIRST GLIMPSE: The council and Prince's Regeneration Trust on a tour of Pioneer House last summer.
FIRST GLIMPSE: The council and Prince's Regeneration Trust on a tour of Pioneer House last summer.

SURVEYORS said a derelict Dewsbury landmark was like a booby trap when they first ventured inside.

When Kirklees Council collected the keys to Pioneer House last July, it discovered the full extent of the challenge ahead.

This week, development manager Barry Reynolds gave Dewsbury Area Committee an update on the progress made.

He said: “When our contract team went in, they said it almost felt like it was booby trapped. There were dark rooms with no floors or rails for protection.”

The committee were shown photographs taken inside the Grade II listed building.

They included former shop units with the floors stripped out, water damage where the roof had been leaking and sections of original features which remain.

Mr Reynolds said it was unclear how much was the result of neglect by the last owners.

He said: “It’s absolutely right the council took on the challenge of this building because of the condition we currently find it in.”

Redevelopment was delayed while asbestos was removed, but a final structural survey will soon be carried out.

“Some of the damp where it meets the walls is causing us some concern,” said Mr Reynolds. “It holds the building together to some extent.”

Scaffolding will go up around the Northgate building in April.

Mr Reynolds said: “We have our construction team ready to begin work. It will take somewhere between eight to 10 months, but until we begin invasive surveys we’re not quite sure how long that will take.”

The first tenant, Connect Housing, hopes to move in by September 2014.

The council is also working closely with the Prince’s Regeneration Trust on the scheme.

Mr Reynolds said the two organisations hoped to hold an event to speak to potential investors and tenants about the project.

He said potential tenants could be looking to set up offices, shops or restaurants.

Meanwhile, the council will learn in April whether its bid for a £1.9m Heritage Lottery grant has made it through to the next stage.

The cash would be spent on improving the Northgate area and on Pioneer itself.

Mr Reynolds said: “Where we have some examples of original plaster work, we would like to repair some of that to show the building as it was in certain areas.

“We wouldn’t be able to do the entire building though because it’s too expensive.”

He said repairs to the stonework outside would also be limited because any weathering showed how the building had aged.

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