Heritage experts visit Dewsbury to explore town's regeneration opportunities

A team of national experts on the regeneration of historic cities and towns have been welcomed on a visit to Dewsbury.

By Dominic Brown
Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 4:36 pm

The Historic Places Panel, assembled by Historic England, was invited by Kirklees Council to provide advice on how to create a vibrant town centre and increase the attractiveness and accessibility of the town, while honouring its heritage.

The aim is to build on the ambitions set out in the council’s Dewsbury Blueprint and create a road map for helping the area become more resilient and sustainable in the future.

Dewsbury is currently the subject of a Heritage Action Zone run jointly by the council and Historic England. It has been granted £24.7million from the £3.6billion Towns Fund to help finance its regeneration plans.

Members of the Historic Places Panel on their visit to Dewsbury

The panel was welcomed to Dewsbury Town Hall by David Shepherd, strategic director for growth and regeneration at Kirklees Council. They also met with other council representatives.

In addition, the Historic Places Panel met Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood and Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of the Council.

They also spent time with local people who contribute to daily life in Dewsbury, went on a town centre walking tour, and discussed regeneration opportunities that could help restore and build on Dewsbury’s special historic character.

Charles Smith, head of investment North at Historic England, said: “Dewsbury is a beautiful town and this visit has given us a chance to understand better both the opportunities and the barriers the town centre is currently facing.

Panel members take a look around The Arcade

“We are grateful to Kirklees Council for inviting us to meet with them and putting together such a comprehensive and interesting itinerary.

"We will be working on a report with a number of ideas and recommendations which we will share with the council.”

Ben Derbyshire, chair of the Historic Places Panel, said: “Our visit to Dewsbury gave us a much clearer idea of how we can effectively contribute to ideas for future proofing a range of proposed projects.

"Dewsbury’s potential as a great place to live and work is evident but we were keen to dig down and look at how the town can better capitalise on its built and natural heritage.

Panel members on a walking tour of the town

"A key area of discussion was how Dewsbury can continue to grow in a way that uses its heritage as a vehicle for attracting investment and increased footfall.

"The regeneration of Pioneer Higher Skills Centre is an excellent exemplar of what can be achieved.”

Coun Pandor said: “Dewsbury is a town with a rich heritage, and we are committed to seeing it emerge a stronger and more vibrant version of its current self.

"We welcome this visit from the panel and look forward to reading their report and putting plans into action.

“Through thoughtful, ambitious regeneration we can realise the potential that Dewsbury has as a destination of choice for residents, businesses and visitors alike.”

Following the two-day visit, the panel will prepare a report of their findings which will be published later in the year.

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