WORK has begun on a major £2.5million makeover of Cleckheaton’s fondly named ‘Rubber Tunnel’.
Renovations to the Central Arcade, situated between Cheapside and Market Street, started earlier this month to replace shop fronts inside the well-known shopping venue.
It has meant most businesses inside the complex have been forced to move elsewhere temporarily – but traders have welcomed the news.
The revamp has been funded by owners Willow Properties Ltd and also includes stone fascias, new flooring, lighting, and external seating, whilst a new £150,000 roof has already been installed.
Known locally as the ‘rubber tunnel’, the site, which will also be renamed Victoria Court when completed, consists of 10 retail shops with two floors of offices above.
Current tenants include Halifax Bank and Titan Business Centre, who are both still trading in the complex, as well as Dominos Pizza and From The Heart gift shop.
Andrew Farrow, owner of We Buy Gold And Silver, has had to move his business to Cleckheaton Indoor Market.
But in spite of the disruption Mr Farrow says the renovations are welcome. “The plans look fantastic and we’re looking forward to getting back in,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of communication with the landlord, they’ve been very good to us, I’ve got no problem with it at all.”
Mr Farrow, who is also a director at Dewsbury Rams, admitted the uncertainty over rent payments once the arcade reopens is “worrying”, but acknowledged it may be a small price to pay.
“Any change is always a problem, but hopefully it will drag the arcade up from the slightly down-market spot it was, to the fantastic end product that it’s looking like it will be,” he said.
A spokesman for Ernest Wilson, the agent overseeing the redevelopment, said: “Earlier this year planning permission was passed to stone clad both the elevations to Cheapside and Market Street together with new signage, windows and replacement of all the shop fronts within the arcade.
“The project will give a massive lift to the town and the arcade.
“A fabulous new coffee shop is being introduced early in 2020 together with other new quality retailers to complement the existing tenants.”