Historic High Streets to share £95m fund
Written by Hannah McGrath
The government has announced the list of towns set to benefit from a £95 million boost aimed at preserving the heritage of UK High Streets.
Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary, named the 69 towns in England that will receive part of the cash injection as part of the biggest ever single investment by government in the UK’s built heritage.
The projects across the country will involve transforming disused historic buildings into shops, houses and community centres, in order to help traditional bricks and mortar retailers adapt to compete with online outlets.
On a regional basis, the money will be split between: London and the South East (£14.3 million); the South West (£13.7 million); the East of England (£7 million); the Midlands (£21.1 million); the North East and Yorkshire (£17.2 million); and the North West (£18.7 million).
The initiative will be funded by combining £40 million from the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport’s Heritage High Street Fund, with £52 million from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Street Fund.
A total of £3 million will be provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a cultural programme to engage people in the life and history of their high streets.
The investment aims to build on Historic England’s Heritage Action Zones programme and will turn empty and underused buildings into creative spaces, offices, retail outlets and housing to support wider regeneration in the 69 successful areas by attracting future commercial investment.
The funding will be used for a variety of projects, including completing essential repair works in historic buildings and revealing forgotten features by restoring shop-fronts and facades; demonstrating how historic sites can be successfully repurposed; education projects and bespoke events to help reposition historic buildings as community hubs at the heart of towns and help address the UK wide skills shortage of professionals in expert fields like stonemasonry and conservation.
Commenting on the initiative, Morgan said: “Our nation’s heritage is one of our great calling cards to the world, attracting millions of visitors to beautiful historic buildings that sit at the heart of our communities.
“It is right that we ensure these buildings are preserved for future generations but it is important that we make them work for the modern world.”