The Dewsbury Arcade, a Grade II Listed building that has been a prominent fixture in Dewsbury town centre since 1899, is on the cusp of a renaissance as Kirklees Council announces the appointment of William Birch Construction as the contractor for its extensive renovations. This marks a pivotal moment in the ambitious Dewsbury Blueprint, a comprehensive plan outlining significant investments in Dewsbury over the next decade.

Having stood vacant for nearly a decade, the historic arcade is set to make history once again as the UK’s first community-run shopping centre. The Arcade Group, a community business formed for the specific purpose of leasing and managing the building, achieved remarkable success in their public fundraising campaign supported by the council last year.

William Birch Construction, a stalwart among Yorkshire’s construction companies with a long-established history, is the chosen contractor entrusted with the meticulous restoration of this beloved arcade. Noteworthy is their focus on employing local construction workers, a crucial factor considered by the council in selecting partners and contractors.

Specializing in the restoration and repair of historic buildings, William Birch is well-equipped to safeguard the Dewsbury Arcade’s distinctive architecture. The preservation of the Grade II Listed building’s heritage is integral to these renovations, aligning seamlessly with the local community’s priorities and the overarching ethos of the Dewsbury Blueprint.

Funding for the much-anticipated project amounts to £4.5 million, sourced 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.

Crucially, once the renovations are complete, the Arcade Group will assume management and operation responsibilities without additional financial input from the council, ensuring sustained community engagement and empowerment.

Construction is poised to commence within the next few months, with the grand reopening scheduled for summer 2025, marking a significant step towards reclaiming Dewsbury Arcade as a vibrant hub within the town centre.

Councillor Cathy Scott, Leader of Kirklees Council and Ward Councillor for Dewsbury East, says; “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 twenty-first century.

“With the passion of local people, the hard work of the Arcade Group, and the support of our other blueprint projects like Dewsbury Market – which should, in perfect timing, be underway just as we’re looking to reopen the arcade – this can once again be a great place for people to enjoy, and for businesses to thrive.”

Gemma Shahjahan, Business Development Director for William Birch Construction, says; “We are delighted to be working with Kirklees Council on this treasured building in Dewsbury, and 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, says; “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. As with all these plans for the town centre, we want to be carrying our heritage forward in a way that works for the modern-day visitor, and works with all the other Dewsbury Blueprint projects to bring new life to the town centre as a whole.”