Pioneer House work is a sign of things to come for Dewsbury town centre

Pioneer House in Dewsbury will be handed over to Kirklees College.
Pioneer House in Dewsbury will be handed over to Kirklees College.

Traders, business chiefs, residents and politicians alike are celebrating after work on one of North Kirklees’ biggest eyesores was completed.

The keys to Pioneer House, which has been subject of a £7.5m regeneration in recent years, will be handed over to Kirklees College in the coming weeks.

Chamber of Trade boss Paul Ellis outside the de-scaffolded Pioneer House.

Chamber of Trade boss Paul Ellis outside the de-scaffolded Pioneer House.

The building, known to many as the old Co-op building on Northgate, was compulsory purchased by the council from Stayton Homes after it had fallen into decline.

The news will be music to the ears of several respondents to The Reporter Series’ 2019 Town Centre Survey, who cited empty buildings as one of the main reasons they refused to visit Dewsbury Town Centre.

Councillor Cathy Scott (Lab, Dewsbury East), a member of Kirklees Cabinet, said acquiring and restoring Pioneer House had been a long and costly process but that it would prove to be well worth it.

“Next year 1,500 students and their teachers will be moving in and this part of Dewsbury will be regenerated.”

The council was also looking at other “eyesores” in the town centre with a view to compulsory purchase. Some weeks ago they had given cabinet approval, in principle, for officers to pursue the matter.

Coun Scott said: “No decision has yet been made but Dewsbury people can be assured we are moving on this.”

Dewsbury Chamber of Trade said the removal of hoardings outside Pioneer House this week had been a welcome sight.

President Paul Ellis said: “Work is still going on outside laying paving stones, but it is still a clear sign things are moving”, said its president Mr Paul Ellis.

“Scaffolding will also be coming down from the Black Bull and Bailey’s Cafe soon and another empty building – the old Ben Riley Hall in Union Street – is also being brought back to life.

“I have spoken to those concerned and they have some amazing ideas.”

Mr Ellis said the chamber had been working closely with local councillors and officers on Dewsbury’s regeneration plans.

“We are working with the council at the moment on their £750,000 spring-cleaning operation to improve the appearance of the town centre.

“Trees and flower planting has already begun, and gazebos, lamp-posts and litter bins are being repainted.

“The chamber is also donating £5,000 for flower beds, trees and hanging baskets on lamp-posts and premises in Market Place.”

“Things are moving in Dewsbury, and I urge local people to be patient and not to denigrate our town.

“We aren’t the only town with empty shops. New businesses are investing in us and Dewsbury is bouncing back.”