Pioneer House was built in 1879 by the Dewsbury Pioneers’ Industrial Society, a co-operative society founded in 1857. It acted as the headquarters and central store for the society, with stabling facilities behind the main building. The success of the original building led to it being extended in 1896 and again in 1914. The additional departments extended the building towards what is now the current Ring Road.
The society had over 20,000 members by its centenary in 1957, but it was unable to keep pace with changes in retailing and ceased trading in Dewsbury. Since the 1960’s, the building has been neglected and unoccupied for long periods of time. Externally, new shop fronts have damaged the Halifax Road façade, whilst internally the majority of the interior finishes have been removed or damaged and unfortunately few details remain.
The site is to be redeveloped with the existing building renovated with improved street level retail units and new residential apartments above. The scheme will provide 18,000ft² of retail space and 95 apartments. A new building is proposed to the rear of Pioneer House, where the stabling was located, providing additional retail units at street level and five levels of apartments above. Basement parking is proposed, with a landscaped courtyard above providing a green space between the new and existing buildings. The separate new and existing elements of the scheme are linked with a glazed bridge and further communal uses are proposed, such as a resident’s bar and gymnasium.
The new building is designed with modern elevations, but the window proportion and horizontal setting out respects the existing architecture of Pioneer House and the local context. Natural York stone to match the existing buildings is used to express the structural frame and standing seam zinc cladding is proposed for the intermediate bays and infill panels within the frame. Two stair towers located at either end of the building are to be clad in translucent glazed panels.