Dewsbury: Victorian arcade set to become UK’s first community run shopping centre

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A vacant Victorian arcade in Dewsbury is set to become the first community run shopping centre in the UK, with a fundraising campaign set to launch this week.

The Arcade has been vacant since 2016 following several years of declining footfall and investment.

Kirklees Council bought the space in 2020 with the aim to halt any further decline of the building and a successful bid to The National Lottery Heritage Fund will see £4.5 million awarded to fully refurbish the Arcade.

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The Arcade Group – comprised of volunteers from the local community – is taking a ten-year lease from Kirklees Council once refurbishment work has taken place and is fundraising a target of £150,000 to finance the business.

The Arcade.The Arcade.
The Arcade.

Businesses and the local community of Dewsbury are being asked to help raise £150,000 in return for shares in the first community-run shopping centre in the UK. Once refurbishment works have been completed, investors will have a say in how the arcade is run.

Many locals will remember Dewsbury Arcade, the Grade II listed Victorian arcade in the heart of Dewsbury town centre as a bustling hub of independent shops and cafes. The Arcade Group, the community led company who are leading the campaign, want to see The Arcade back to its former glory but with a focus on the future, giving people a reason to visit Dewsbury once again.

To kick off the share campaign, there will be a launch meeting at Dewsbury Town Hall on Thursday, October 12 at 6pm. More information on how to book a free place can be found on The Arcade – Dewsbury facebook page.

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The fundraising page: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/dewsbury-arcade will launch on the 12th and will be open for just four weeks.

The Arcade  in the early 20th century.The Arcade  in the early 20th century.
The Arcade in the early 20th century.

Chris Hill, development director of the Arcade Group said: “This is a really exciting and unique project and one which we hope the whole community in Dewsbury can support. We firmly believe the rejuvenation of the Arcade will massively enhance the town centre and act as a catalyst for further investment and improvements. We hope it will help in

the renaissance of Dewsbury.

“The Arcade will be run by the community for the community and we’ve been really encouraged with the feedback so far.”

Once restored, The Arcade will have 16 smaller shop units, four larger spaces and six upstairs studios suitable for artists or offices.

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A CGI images of The Arcade.A CGI images of The Arcade.
A CGI images of The Arcade.

Councillor Cathy Scott, leader of Kirklees Council, said: “The council’s purchase of the arcade was one of the first major steps in our Dewsbury Blueprint

plans, and we’re all incredibly excited to see it returned to its former glory. Our aim with each and every development is to create improvements that are sustainable, which will benefit the town for many years to come, and will bring a renewed sense of joy and pride to the local community. As the first community-run shopping centre in the UK, the Dewsbury Arcade would do just that.

She added: “Our blueprint for the town isn’t just about a few years of investment – it’s about what Dewsbury will be to future generations. With this in mind, I hope local people will consider investing in this building, which is both a piece of both our history and our future. As a Dewsbury local myself, I’m really looking forward to seeing the Arcade Group’s plans come to fruition, and to seeing what the Dewsbury Arcade can grow into as a result.”

Anyone interested in becoming a part of the future of The Arcade and to be kept updated on the progress of the campaign should follow The Arcade – Dewsbury on facebook and arcadedewsbury on Instagram.