Plans to restore a Grade II-listed Victorian shopping arcade in Dewsbury are back on track – and the public is being invited to help shape the project.
The Arcade is one of the town’s iconic buildings, fondly remembered by generations of local people, and could become England’s first community-run shopping centre.
The shopping mall, with its stunning glazed roof and ornate ironwork, is owned by Kirklees Council and is set to undergo a £7 million restoration.
The plan is to give The Arcade a new vibe as a thriving hub for small retailers, artisan, art and craft businesses and entrepreneurs. It is hoped there will be a bar, restaurant or coffee shop at either end, making it a leisure attraction where people want to spend time, relax and browse.
Once completed, the intention is to lease the building to a community benefit society, Arcade Group Dewsbury Ltd, run as a not-for-profit venture with the interests of the town at its heart.
Last week it was announced that Kirklees Council had secured £106,657 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for initial development work, as the first stage of a £3.7 million application towards the overall £7 million restoration costs.
As part of that first phase, Arcade Group Dewsbury is hosting a public meeting at Dewsbury Town Hall on Tuesday July 12 (5.30pm-7pm) to outline their plans and ask members of the public how they see The Arcade of the future.
Chris Hill, development director at the Arcade Group Dewsbury, said: “The restoration of any listed building is complex and painstaking and there have inevitably been delays along the way.
“Now the scheme is very much back on track and the funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund means we are underway and ready to engage with local people on what they want The Arcade to be.
“Everyone has memories of The Arcade and it’s a part of Dewsbury’s proud history. Our next task is to develop an oral and visual history of The Arcade so that we can build on the amazing past of this building and create a new future that will stand the test of time. We want The Arcade to be a catalyst for the regeneration of Dewsbury.”
The Arcade was built in 1899 but had fallen into decay and disrepair in recent years, finally closing in 2016. The building was purchased by Kirklees Council and is now one of nine major projects which make up the Dewsbury Blueprint regeneration scheme.
The council’s purchase of adjacent buildings - 18-20 Corporation Street and 17 Foundry Street - meant a re-evaluation of the scheme.
Chris added: “The Arcade will be England’s first community-run shopping centre and this is a unique opportunity for everybody in Dewsbury to get involved and have a stake in the town’s future prosperity.
“Of course, there’s a long way to go but we want people to come along to the meeting next week to find out how they can be in at the start of something that will really put Dewsbury back on the national map.
“The Arcade is going to be very much at the heart of the community and we want the community to be the heartbeat of The Arcade and have a real say in its future.”
A final bid for funding will be made in November 2022 with a decision expected in March 2023. If successful construction work could start in summer 2023 with a completion date in 2024.
The Arcade Group Dewsbury has already had around 25 people express an interest in taking space when the restoration is complete.
The Dewsbury Arcade Action Programme Launch at Dewsbury Town Hall on Tuesday July 12 (5.30pm-7pm) is open to anyone and refreshments are available.