Bid for extra £2.3million to help with Dewsbury Arcade refurbishment project

Kirklees council has submitted a £2.3m bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help with the repair and refurbishment of The Arcade in Dewsbury.
An artist's impression of how The Arcade in Dewsbury could look following its refurbishmentAn artist's impression of how The Arcade in Dewsbury could look following its refurbishment
An artist's impression of how The Arcade in Dewsbury could look following its refurbishment

This stage one application replaces an earlier one submitted in November 2021 and includes a request for an enhanced level of funding: particularly for community engagement activity as well as preparatory work that will support the submission of a subsequent stage two bid.

The Grade II listed Arcade was built in 1899 and was a popular town centre thoroughfare right through to 2016.

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Located within the Dewsbury Town Centre Conservation Area, the building’s condition has been gradually deteriorating over the last ten years. However, most of the buildings became vacant and the thoroughfare closed to the public five years ago.

Sarah Barnes, left, and Natalie Liddle from The Arcade Dewsbury Steering GroupSarah Barnes, left, and Natalie Liddle from The Arcade Dewsbury Steering Group
Sarah Barnes, left, and Natalie Liddle from The Arcade Dewsbury Steering Group

After considering all its options, in May 2020 the council purchased The Arcade and it is now one of the lead projects of the Dewsbury Blueprint regeneration programme.

In addition to the £2.3 million HLF bid, the council has applied to Government to approve the £1.3 million funding from the Town Deal Investment Plan. A decision is expected on the Town Deal funding this month.

The project also has support from the Mayor of West Yorkshire and the wider community.

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The £2.3 million bid is in the first stages of the application of the project which is part of the £6.7 million project.

Securing this money will enable the council to deliver a quality scheme for Dewsbury which will include much more community engagement focusing on the ideas of the Dewsbury community and local decision-making.

A decision on the stage one application is expected by the end of June.

The council has agreed, subject to meeting a number of preconditions, that The Arcade will be operated the Arcade Group; a new community-based company.

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The council believes that by having a local company run by local business people and investors with the support of the local area, operating the arcade will enable local energy, commitment and expertise to be utilised to the benefit of Dewsbury and create the opportunity to keep any surpluses within the town to further future regeneration.

The Arcade Group will carry out the community engagement work included in the HLF bid.

The Arcade, which was much loved by Dewsbury residents, will become a new facility that is valued by the local community and celebrates its history while bringing it up to modern-day standards.

A refurbished Arcade will be an important component of the town centre and similarly will give a vibrancy to the town which will help the performance of the building.

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Secretary of The Arcade Group, Chris Hill, said: “The memories and histories of The Arcade are what bring people together, it reminds Dewsbury community of who they are, the values they share, and the future they could build.

"If successful, the heritage bid will give us a chance to create a permanent collection of images, video, and oral histories of The Arcade that can be displayed when it opens.

"We will work with Dewsbury History and Photographic Societies, as well as students at Kirklees College and local residents, not only to learn about the past but to understand what people want in The Arcade of the future.

The Arcade Group members are made up of people who live or work in the town. We are committed to community engagement and want to create a sense of trust prior to us launching a community share issue that will place ownership of the business in the hands of residents.”

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Councillor Eric Firth, cabinet member for town centres, said: “Community-led-regeneration is as the heart of The Arcade and this project brings a selective sense of identity and place of people coming together.

"Heritage needs to be about building people, as well as buildings. Heritage is ‘the glue’, ‘the mortar between the blocks’ - it’s what brings people together.

"I have been struck by how often, in my conversations, people have talked about the power of heritage bringing generations together, and bridging the generational divide is arguably needed now more than ever.”

The Arcade has seen some eye-catching artwork installed recently by talented commissioned artists for the Dewsbury Creative Town Arts Programme "Daylight Robbery".

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The artwork, "Let’s Talk Shop", has been installed while restoration works are in progress and tell the unique stories, memories and anecdotes of one of Dewsbury’s most iconic buildings.

These have been carefully interwoven into two huge pieces of temporary art which feature in the main entrances to The Arcade.

Scaffolding has been erected to support the temporary repairs to the roof, gutters and to stop water from getting in prior to the main scheme of work taking place. The scaffold on Corporation Street is likely to remain until the main scheme of work is completed.

These are precautionary safety measures and are necessary to the overall works and for public safety passing the site.

If the stage one HLF bid is approved in June, then the council will be asked to submit a more detailed stage two application.