High streets in Coventry, Tewkesbury, Gloucester and Reading are among 69 locations that will benefit from a £95 million heritage boost for high streets across the country.
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. £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.
Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “This £95 million will help breathe new life into high streets all over England, benefiting businesses, supporting our much-loved buildings and helping to make our communities more attractive places to live, work and visit.”
The funding will be used for a variety of projects, including:
- To complete essential repair works in historic buildings and reveal hidden and forgotten features of buildings by restoring shop-fronts and facades
- Stimulate commercial investment in high streets by demonstrating how historic sites can be successfully repurposed.
- Develop education projects and bespoke events to help reposition historic buildings as community hubs at the heart of local towns and villages.
- Help address the UK wide skills shortage of heritage professionals in expert fields like stonemasonry and conservation by providing local property owners, residents and businesses with the opportunity to train in these areas.
The national centre for digital retail innovation, which opened in Gloucester ealier this year, hosted the launch of StreetPin, a new digital platform for the community and retail. StreetPin seeks to help independent shops, market stalls and local services without the digital know-how, to make the most of the internet. It focusses on the huge gulf between digital sales solutions like pay-per-click, Groupon, keyword bidding and traditional marketing routes like printed leaflets, circulars and directory listings. The aim is to help the high street leverage millions of potential small volume deals, disposal-saving promotions and generally make the most of the ‘here and now’.
This summer The Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) announced support of £2m for the regeneration of The Burger, one of the Coventry’s oldest shopping streets as a demonstrator project for its £44 million High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme led by Historic England, as part of an overall £62 million investment in high street heritage.
Plans for The Burges include the restoration of existing building frontages and reinstatement of historic shopfronts, as well as opening up the river in Palmer Lane to the rear as a new public square, turning the river into an asset for locals and visitors.
Swindon also received support from the Heritage Action Zone during the summer, to help breathe new life into the town’s Railway Village, an area rich in heritage and full of promise, to make it a more attractive place to residents, businesses, tourists and investors. But it doesn’t make the list of town high streets in the Government’s latest announcement.
Gloucester has seen significant investment in urban regeneration over the last two decades, but most of it has taken place at the Docks. Now Westgate Street and King’s Square could see the investment needed to restore Gloucester to its former glory.
With the news this week that Tewkesbury is to get a brand new designer outlet centre at Ashchurch, the beautiful town needs investment to restore this pretty town, with its historic abbey.