Buildings get new lease of life as community hub

Buildings get new lease of life as community hub

TWO vacant Dewsbury town centre buildings are to be brought back into use as a community hub.

Connect Housing is spending £1.5m on neighbouring premises on Bond Street, including one formerly occupied by Arts Council England.

It will be used as a resource centre for the housing association’s tenants and service users. Staff from the not-for-profit firm will be based there and the wider community can also use the resource centre.

Renovations are being led by Bauman Lyons Architects – the firm behind a 25-year Dewsbury town centre revival plan in 2010.

Arts Council England moved to Leeds last year after coming to Dewsbury in 1991.

The premises were built in 1862 when land was bought from a rail company by Dr George Fearnley, the first Mayor of Dewsbury.

It had various uses, such as a rag warehouse, bistro and solicitors, over the years up to 1991.

Connect Housing were set to move into another historic Dewsbury building – Pioneer House – last September.

But the firm, the only tenant for the Grade II-listed edifice, instead switched to Bond Street.

Other town centre work, including a £4m lottery-funded revamp of Northgate, is in the pipeline.

On Tuesday Dewsbury Regeneration Board chairman Coun Eric Firth was checking over grot spots for potential enforcement action. He was out with predecessor and new Kirklees Mayor Coun Paul Kane (both Lab, Dewsbury East).

Jenny Brierley, chief executive of Connect Housing, said their move has been a year in the making. Links with other community groups around Dewsbury have been formed to offer a ‘wrap-around’ advice service.

She said: “Our vision is homes, services and neighbourhoods that offer everyone an equal opportunity to live healthy and fulfilled lives and contribute to society.”

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