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Restaurant plan could breathe new life into former Dewsbury Museum

Campaigners on tenterhooks as council decides future

The park mansion House which houses Dewsbury Museum in Crow Nest Park

Dewsbury Park Mansion could be just weeks away from a new identity and a bright future.

The building, formerly Dewsbury Museum, is on the cusp of being formally transferred to Dewsbury Park Mansion Community Hub.

Councillors have assessed the merits of the group’s business plan, which has been described as “on the whole good.”

And if the project is given the green light it could mean big changes for the site, which was closed last November as part of Kirklees Council cutbacks.

Only one aspect, a confidential matter said to be sensitive and potentially complex, is holding up the transfer of the building as a community asset. It is understood that if that obstacle could be overcome then the project might forward apace.

Members of the initial campaign group, the Friends of Dewsbury Park Mansion, met in July and agreed that it should be dissolved as its original objectives had been met. To continue the asset transfer Dewsbury Park Mansion Community Hub (DPMCH), a new charity, was formed.

Dewsbury Museum

Founding director Jax Lovelock said the latest stage in the building’s story was “hugely positive” with a final decision expected at a Kirklees Council cabinet meeting in November.

“It’s all to play for and the political will is there as well,” she added.

“We have got together a really strong team and we are building on that. It’s a complete learning curve for us but we have got nothing to lose. We are going to give it a damn good go and it’s worth every fun, daft moment.”

New asset transfer policies adopted by Kirklees Council means that Dewsbury Park Mansion can never again be a museum.

However the DPMCH has earmarked the building as a health and wellbeing community hub that would also provide a restaurant on the ground floor, which could cater for weddings and funeral teas.

They are also investigating how it might provide backing for vulnerable young people via art-based support and voluntary work, and whether it could host a start-up incubator for small businesses. The amenity would be available to people across Kirklees.

“We are now at the mercy of the council, which is moving slowly and carefully. It feels frustrating that it is so slow but it’s giving us the time we need to be able to pick it up and run with it.

“Obviously we don’t know what the outcome is going to be but it’s looking hugely positive.”

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