Spiralling costs sees delay to £3m Dewsbury Arcade regeneration

Spiralling construction costs are set to delay the £3 million restoration of a Dewsbury flagship regeneration project.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 3:03 pm
Updated Friday, 26th November 2021, 3:04 pm
The Arcade in Dewsbury, a Grade II-listed Victorian shopping arcade

Plans to refurbish The Arcade, Dewsbury’s iconic listed shopping mall, have stalled after Kirklees Council was forced to seek more funding.

Works to restore the Victorian building were originally said to cost £2.3 million but by the summer that figure had risen to £3 million.

In September, Kirklees Council announced it had bought two adjacent buildings – the former Moneypenny shop in Corporation Street and the former Leeds Building Society round the corner in Foundry Street.

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That was hailed as a big boost to wider plans for The Arcade however now it has been revealed the council doesn’t have all the money needed to finance the scheme.

As late as this summer the community benefit company set to take on the lease for The Arcade was still saying work would start in early 2022 with an opening in March 2023.

Now, in a statement published on The Arcade Dewsbury’s Facebook page and emailed to supporters, a company spokesman apologised to potential tenants and said that it was unlikely The Arcade would be open before the end of 2023.

The statement, headed “Refurbishment Delay”, says: “We’ve been quiet recently. The council has been focused on completing technical specifications for The Arcade refurbishment and pulling money in.

“Sadly, the inclusion of Moneypenny’s in the building programme (a positive move in itself creating more retail and workshop/office space) and construction costs going through the roof nationwide, has meant the council needing additional financial support to progress the project.

“They are applying to Heritage Lottery. The Expression of Interest has been accepted and the Stage 1 application goes in this month but Heritage Fund processes mean that the programme is bound to be delayed.

“Work cannot start until everything is approved so we are braced for The Arcade not opening before the end of 2023. We can only apologise to potential tenants.

“There is, of course, the possibility of the application being turned down which will mean a set of difficult decisions. Little point speculating about those now.”

The Arcade, built in 1889, closed in 2016 and was bought by the council in 2020 with the aim of making it a retail, leisure and hospitality destination for small, independent businesses.

The plans were to have 15 small shops with large units for a café or bar at either end along with seven first-floor studios.

Coun Eric Firth, Kirklees Council’s Cabinet member for town centres, said: “We have ambitious and transformational plans for Dewsbury. The Arcade is very much a part of that vision.

“Construction industry prices have increased significantly over the last 12 months and, inevitably, this will have an impact on cost estimates for restoring The Arcade.

“We are exploring different avenues of potential funding so that we can meet the increased costs. Unfortunately, that means that it is taking a little longer to progress the project than we would have liked.

“The completion of the purchase of 18-20 Corporation Street/17 Foundry Street by the council is imminent. A planning application for this project will be submitted in December.

“The integration of the works to 18 Corporation St to provide improved access to the upper floors of the Corporation Street end of the Arcade is progressing.

“Although the two projects are related, there has been no increase to The Arcade costs as a result of the Corporation St/Foundry St purchase.”