ILKLEY Community Enterprise, the local charity that runs Outside the Box, has ambitious plans to make the Victorian Arcade in Ilkley an extra special food destination.

The charity, which purchased the building after it was put up for sale by the previous owner, is proposing to invest in the remodelling of the ground floor of the Arcade to improve access, relocate Outside the Box community café to larger premises and increase the profile and use of this iconic local building.

“We are still working on details of our plans so that we can realise the full potential of this important local building to the benefit of all our local community,” said Graham Smith, chairman of the charity. “Our investment will transform the Arcade into a vibrant place providing high quality eating out experiences for the people of Ilkley and the many visitors to our town.”

Outside the Box, set up by local people in 2013, provides training, work experience and learning activities for adults and young people with learning disabilities. It has won many awards including Ilkley Business Forum Hospitality Business of the Year and The People’s Choice Awards, and gained national recognition including being featured by the BBC and national press. As well as providing employment for many local people, the charity has a diverse team of over 60 community volunteers.

“We have been looking for new local premises for some time as we have continued to grow,” said Louise Hale, the charity’s chief executive. “The Arcade will enable us to offer better facilities for our customers, including families with children, as well as providing the space we need to support more people with learning disabilities. We are really looking forward to this exciting new chapter in the life of Outside the Box and the Arcade”.

La Casita tapas restaurant on the first floor of the Arcade will play an important part in the new development. Co-founder and Ilkley local Oliver Renton confirmed that La Casita will “remain open for business as usual during the renovation work”. With a new menu launching in July, a loyalty app rewards scheme and an appearance at Ilkley Food Festival at the end of the month there is a lot going on for this popular restaurant.

Arcade Kitchens is trading as normal at the Arcade as they progress discussions with Ilkley Community Enterprise to relocate to the current Outside the Box premises on the corner of Bridge Lane. Nigel Tapper of Arcade Kitchens (Ilkley) Ltd said: “Having been in The Arcade for over 37 years, we were initially concerned about the development proposals, but have been pleased with the support from the charity who are aware of our long-standing presence in the town and are keen to see us continue to thrive. We are working together on a schedule for our relocation. Exciting times ahead for everyone concerned, with a new lease of life for The Arcade and a great opportunity for us to grow our business with new premises.”