Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced the locations that will benefit from a £95 million heritage boost for high streets in 69 towns across the country.
Increasing competition from online outlets is putting high streets across the country under growing pressure. As part of the Government’s drive to help high streets adapt to changing consumer habits, the £95 million funding will provide a welcome boost that will breathe new life into historic buildings and areas in our towns and cities.
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.
Maryport and Barrow-in-Furness are all home to a historic high street which are set to be supported through the High Streets Heritage Action Zone scheme.
The investment builds on the successful Heritage Action Zones programme, run by Historic England, 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.
Culture Secretary Nicky 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.
“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 façades.
- 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.
Communities Secretary of State Robert Jenrick said: “I want to make sure the nation’s high streets continue to be at the heart of local communities.
“Today’s funding, part of the £3.6 billion we have committed to helping towns across the country, will revitalise much-loved historic buildings, helping to reverse the decline of our town centres.
“Ensuring that prosperity and opportunities are available to everyone in this country, not just those in our biggest cities, is a priority of this Government in our mission to ‘level up’ the regions.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, said: “We are doubling funding to nearly £100 million to revitalise our heritage high streets, ensuring they remain at the heart of our communities for years to come.
“This will help places across the country – from South Norwood to Scarborough – protect their treasured historic buildings and support local economies to thrive.”
Historic England’s Chief Executive, Duncan Wilson said: “Our high streets are the beating hearts of our communities. Many have roots that go back hundreds of years. Their historic buildings and distinctive character tell the story of how our towns and cities have changed over time. They are places where people come together to socialise, shop, run businesses and be part of their local community, but now they face an uncertain future.
“Through physical improvements and cultural activities, we will work with partners to find new ways to regenerate our high streets. It is a challenge, but with our experience and track record, as well as the knowledge and passion of local councils, businesses and community groups our historic high streets can be thriving social hubs once more.”
Simon Fell, Conservative Candidate for Barrow and Furness said: “A vibrant high street brings a community together. But many of them struggle against out-of-town retail parks, or online businesses, leading local businesses and independent retailers to close and the sad sight of empty shops.
“Dalton Road is a perfect example of this, and I’m hopeful that this new funding will go some way towards restoring Barrow town centre.
“This funding is on top of the the £1billion Future High Streets Fund which Barrow is shortlisted for, and which I am very hopeful we will be successful in.
“This is an exciting time for Barrow’s high street and I’m delighted that the Government and Historic England are backing it.”
Speaking on the announcement, Mark Jenkinson, Allerdal BC Executive member with responsibility for economic growth, said: “This is terrific news for Maryport especially on the back of recent announcements of funding for Maryport from the High Street Fund, and I’d like to thank everyone involved in putting the bid together for their hard work. Maryport is a fantastic town with a fascinating history and stunning architecture and heritage assets. There’s still some work to do on the Programme Design which when complete will ensure this money goes a long way to make the town even more attractive both for visitors and local residents.”
High Streets Minister Rt Hon Jake Berry MP said: “Towns across the Northern Powerhouse have a unique and rich history and cultural tapestry that local communities are rightly proud of. This initiative, boosted with £95 million in support from our Future High Streets Fund, will be vital for Northern towns in unlocking more of their huge potential. By restoring beautiful historic buildings for modern use, whole communities will benefit and high streets can flourish for years to come.”
Catherine Dewar, Regional Director in the North West for Historic England, said: “High streets are right at the heart of our communities. It’s fantastic news for the people and businesses of Maryport and Barrow in Furness that they will receive this boost to help them bring new life to this part of the town centre.
“Our high streets face many challenges, with some historic buildings underused or even empty, but with a little investment and imagination they can be transformed into vibrant places that attract new businesses and other new uses. Historic high streets have a crucial role to play in delivering economic growth and attractive environments in which we can live, work and play. Historic England is looking forward to working with the local communities on this exciting historic high street project.”