About Dewsbury Arcade
The listed Arcade, with its beautiful roof and ironwork is close to many Dewsbury hearts. Built in 1899, it was a popular town centre thoroughfare right through to 2014.
A combination of falling town centre footfall, poor management and lack of investment by absentee owners, saw the Arcade empty out from 2011 and finally close. An unsuccessful attempt to revive its fortunes was made by the Pioneer community business in 2015, but they were paying full rent from the start, were under-resourced and dealing with a building in poor condition. By contrast we have two years to build momentum, will have a fully restored Arcade and have pulled together an experienced team of entrepreneurs to lead the effort.
After considering all its options, in May 2020 the Council purchased the Arcade and as one of the lead projects in the ‘Dewsbury Blueprint’ is investing money in a full refurbishment.
The Arcade consists of 17 small shops, bookended by larger three-storey units at the Market Place and Commercial Street ends. The shops are around 250 sq ft, with the end units more than twice that size.
There is a second floor running above the shops, but not all shops have an upstairs and access to the second floor is awkward. Uses and access to the second floor and the end units are one of the few big design issues for the team. Otherwise, the refurbishment is about bringing the Arcade back to prime condition.
The design team for the Arcade and Markets, BDP Architects, were appointed by the Council in January ’21 and there is the opportunity for our group’s ideas to be fed in.
The Arcade cannot be what it was. It cannot consist of shops relying on passing trade. We have to create reasons for people making a special trip – specialist shops (that probably have an online presence as well), culture, events, creative work etc. We also need to work with the Market team to make Dewsbury town centre worth visiting again.
We don’t yet know what the rents will be, but are determined to keep them affordable with flexible occupation terms.