A Grade II-listed Victorian shopping arcade set to undergo a £3 million restoration is preparing to throw open its doors - for one afternoon only.
The Arcade in Dewsbury town centre had fallen into decline and disrepair until it closed in 2016. The iconic building was bought by Kirklees Council in May 2020 and has now been stripped out inside ready for a transformation into a retail, leisure and hospitality destination.
The building, with its spectacular glazed ironwork roof, is to become a focal point for the council’s Dewsbury Blueprint town centre regeneration scheme.
It is set to be leased by a not-for-profit company which hopes to secure ‘preferred bidder’ status from the council by October.
On Saturday August 14 (1pm-4pm) The Arcade will pull back the ornate iron gates and invite the public in as part of its Summer Gathering, an event with food, stalls, music and refreshments.
Visitors and prospective tenants looking to take space in The Arcade can see plans, designs and images and talk to the architects and members of the steering group.
Music will be provided by improvisational duo Big Wave with special guest South Indian singer Supriya Nagarajan.
Chris Hill, a community business specialist who is managing the project on behalf of Kirklees Council, said the plans were reaching an exciting stage.
“The internal strip-out has now been completed and we have something of a blank canvas to work with,” he said.
“The architects are working on a planning application which will be submitted to the council shortly and we are ready to show the public – and prospective tenants – what they can expect from our ambitious transformation.
“The Arcade was built in 1889 and generations of Dewsbury people have known it growing up, walking down the tiled floor and looking up in wonder at the amazing roof.
“The Summer Gathering is a chance for people to come and take a sneak preview of what to expect, have something to eat or drink and sit a while.”
The refurbishment plans will see 15 small shops, four large end units and seven first floor studios created. The aim is to attract independent, craft-orientated retailers with high quality cafes or bars at either end.
The steering group is inviting expressions of interest from prospective tenants and 25 people have responded so far.
Chris added: “We’ve had a great deal of interest and people are excited to be part of what we are doing. The Arcade will make Dewsbury a destination again and help drive the town’s regeneration.”
Should the not-for-profit company secure the lease it will apply to become a community benefit society and there will be a community share issue allowing local people to buy a stake in the company that runs The Arcade.
Subject to planning permission construction work could start in January 2022 with an opening in early 2023.