TRADERS in Cleckheaton say plans to revamp a shopping arcade will make the town more welcoming to shoppers and businesses.
Central Arcade, in the heart of the town, is set for a £1million makeover thanks to developers Willow Properties.
The company has submitted plans to Kirklees Council which include installing new shop fronts and stone fascias on Cheapside and Market Street.
Known locally as the ‘rubber tunnel’, the complex will also be renamed Victoria Court.
And Mark Hepworth, of nearby Robert Openshaw Fine Jewellery, is pleased with the investment in Cleckheaton. “Unlike the millions wasted on projects in Huddersfield and Dewsbury by Kirklees Council, this shows that Cleckheaton is a retail destination worth investing in by private investors,” he said.
“The plans for Victoria Court will not only make the town centre a more attractive place to shop but also encourage businesses to consider our town centre for their next venture and I look forward to seeing the completed project.”
The site consists of 10 retail shops with two floors of offices above. Current tenants include Halifax Bank, Dominos Pizza, From The Heart gift shop and the Titan Business Centre.
A new £150,000 roof has already been installed, while further planned works include new shop fronts, stone fascia, new flooring, lighting, and external seating.
David Sugden, vice president of the Spenborough Chamber of Trade, said: “The Central Arcade revamp to Victoria Court is such a positive regeneration.
“No doubt it will always be fondly known as the ‘rubber tunnel’ to certain generations, but for new visitors it will modernise the main thoroughfare and make it far more welcoming.
“The arcade is already home to some fantastic independent businesses and high street names and hopefully the makeover will attract new tenants and more choice for our local community which all helps in improving footfall.
“The chamber believes that this, and the retirement living development Brooke Dene Court, are key signs that Cleckheaton is worthy of investment.
“The high streets may show signs of struggling but smaller towns, such as Cleckheaton, have the heart, passion and community support to help them thrive for years to come.”
The premises had previously been owned for many years by Stefan Simmonds of Tavirno Ltd.
There are currently some vacant units, and a design and access statement on the planning application said: “The property would benefit the area hugely from renovation and refurbishment through investment.”
A planning decision is expected by the middle of June.