Contractor hired to restore historic arcade to its former glory

Kirklees Council has appointed contractor William Birch Construction for its planned renovations of Dewsbury Arcade.

William Birch specialises in the restoration and repair of historic buildings.

The arcade is a Grade II Listed building, which has been a key part of Dewsbury town centre since 1899. However, it has been empty for the best part of a decade.

It is an important part of the Dewsbury Blueprint, which lays out the council’s plans for investment in the town over the next decade and beyond.

The arcade is set to re-open as the UK’s first ever community-run shopping centre. It will be leased and managed by a community business called The Arcade Group.

Renovations needed to reopen the arcade are being funded by £4.5m from the National Heritage Lottery Fund, grants from the Dewsbury Town Deal Board and West Yorkshire Combined Authority, support from the Government’s Getting Building Fund, and capital funding from the council.

Once reopened, the Arcade Group will take on management and operation of the business side of the arcade without further financial input from the council.

Renovation works are planned to begin within the next few months – and the arcade should be re-opened by summer 2025.

Councillor Cathy Scott, leader of Kirklees Council and ward councillor for Dewsbury East, said: “The Dewsbury Arcade is a project I’m tremendously excited about, because it’s so steeped in feeling from local people – including myself.

“Those of us who’ve lived in Dewsbury for a long time remember that beautiful building through the years, and I’m absolutely passionate about it remaining a beating heart of our town centre.

“I’m glad we’re working with a company that are Yorkshire-based, and have a history of future-proofing treasured heritage buildings like this one whilst bringing them into the 21st century.”

Gemma Shahjahan, business development director for William Birch Construction, said: “We are looking forward to starting onsite in the coming weeks.

“The plans to bring the arcade back to life are really exciting, and our teams are looking forward to being part of that journey in what is a special year for our business – celebrating 150 years.”

Keith Ramsay, chair of the Dewsbury Town Deal Board, said: “We’re very pleased to see William Birch come on board.

“The history and heritage of the Dewsbury Arcade is something the Town Board, and the people of Dewsbury, are incredibly passionate about – we don’t just want to see the arcade brought back to life, we want to see it restored and preserved for the future.”

Chris Hill, co-founder of the Arcade Group, added: “We’ve been close to this project, and it’s been close to our hearts, for a very long time now, so it’s incredibly exciting to be so close to work starting onsite.

“We’re having very exciting conversations with traders potentially looking to take up residence in the arcade once it re-opens, and this update will definitely spur on these conversations.”