Don’t ditch flagship £15m plan to refurbish Dewsbury Market, says town's MP

Flagship projects such as Dewsbury Market should be protected as a priority to ensure the town’s regeneration can progress, says MP Mark Eastwood.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 4th July 2022, 10:00 am

His comments come after Kirklees Council said escalating construction costs had prompted a review of the £15m scheme, which involves the clearance of the entire site at Cloth Hall Street and the “decanting” of stallholders for around 17 months.

The council has advised that reviewing the scheme – one of the centrepieces of the Dewsbury Blueprint – may result in a new planning application being put forward for the market’s development, which indicates existing plans are to be ditched.

Mr Eastwood believes that is the wrong approach and raised the issue of the market as “an urgent matter” at Thursday night’s meeting of Dewsbury Town Board where he expressed his disappointment at plans to review the project.

An artist’s impression of how a revamped Dewsbury Market might look

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service he said: “By reviewing the plans we will end up going from a Rolls Royce to a Robin Reliant.

"Instead the council should look at the options and seek savings elsewhere to make up the shortfall.

"The flagship projects – the market, the Arcade, the town park – need to be protected and to come out of this process as close as possible to what we have been promoting.”

The massive market revamp was unveiled last summer. Council chiefs announced that they wanted to improve Dewsbury’s market offer by cutting the number of stalls from 400 to approximately 200, emphasising food and drink and introducing a food court.

Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood

All of the open market stalls on Cloth Hall Street will be cleared and new stalls and layout created.

That would mean relocating – or “decanting” – traders “on street” within the town centre using either vacant shops or decorated metal shipping containers.

Moving stallholders was estimated to cost £2.3m. Buying 53 steel shipping containers cost the council £800,000.

Mr Eastwood added: “I want to continue to work with the council on this and to make the market a success.

"I appreciate budgets have changed due to circumstances beyond our control. To the council’s credit they took on board my comments and are going to look into potential savings.

“There’s been an awful lot of scepticism about plans for Dewsbury in the past. Reviewing the market would exacerbate the perception that nothing is going to happen.

"The new market would be a centrepiece for the town. It used to be renowned, first-class. People came from all over to visit it.

“Before we go back to the drawing board we should take another look. Money from the Government’s Towns Fund has already been allocated.

"I think it’s possible to regenerate the town. We just need the wherewithal to be able to do that.”

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Dewsbury Market: Council to review £15m revamp plans due to escalating costs