People walking down a pedestrianised high street on a sunny day
Westgate will be the focus of Gloucester's High Street Heritage Action Zone © Gloucester City Council
Westgate will be the focus of Gloucester's High Street Heritage Action Zone © Gloucester City Council

Funding Secured for Historic High Streets Recovery

From Plymouth to Hexham, 68 historic high streets across England have been offered government funding to give them a new lease of life and help them recover from declining footfall and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The £95 million government-funded High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme, which is delivered by Historic England, will unlock the potential of these high streets, fuelling economic, social and cultural recovery. The lead partners for the schemes (mostly local authorities) are working with Historic England to develop and deliver schemes that will transform and restore disused and dilapidated buildings into new homes, shops, work places and community spaces, restoring local historic character and improving public realm.

The High Streets Heritage Action Zone initiative is funded with £40 million from the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport’s Heritage High Street Fund and £52 million from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Street Fund. A further £3 million will be provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a cultural programme.

Historic buildings on our high streets give great character to local towns and cities, making each distinctive and appealing to people. Up to 48% of the nation's retail stock was built before 1919 and the loss of business occupiers in these historic buildings is placing them at risk and undermining the character, local identity and viability of the high street.

On top of this £95 million, the government's unprecedented £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund will help to tackle the impact the pandemic has had on our most loved arts organisations and heritage sites and breathe new life into historic high streets across the country.

High streets sit at the heart of our communities and every part of the country deserves to have one they can be proud of. This fund will help breathe new life into high streets in towns and cities across the country - restoring them to their full glory so that they are beautiful places for people to shop, work and enjoy.

Oliver Dowden Culture Secretary

Our high streets are the beating heart of our communities and, now more than ever, have a crucial role to play in helping our towns and cities to recover from the pandemic.

This new funding will help to transform and restore historic buildings, creating new homes, shops and community spaces, and reinvigorating local high streets up and down the country.

Kelly Tolhurst MP High Streets Minister

Cultural Programme

It is not just the economic future and commercial confidence of the High Streets that is at stake. They have a long history of being the heart of places where local people meet, work, shop and feel part of something bigger.

The HSHAZ scheme includes £7.4 million to fund four years of cultural activities to engage communities with their local high streets, and celebrate the role and importance of these historic areas as hubs of the community. The Cultural Programme is led by Historic England, in partnership with The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England.

The money will fund two arms of the programme, the first is grants distributed through cultural consortia set up by Local Authority partners. These consortia will work with artists and creative organisations local to the high streets to develop their ideas and deliver activity.

The second part of the programme is a series of national cultural commissions. Historic England is asking creatives to respond to briefs that include capturing the everyday spirit of high streets, and connecting high streets across the country; this will include a large-scale outdoor arts celebration of the high street and a four year photography commission to document the changing face of the high street. Further commissions will be announced in each year of the cultural programme.

The cultural programme has already facilitated pilot grants to produce work that will be revealed in the run-up to the crucial Christmas shopping season on local high streets. From art exhibitions in empty shop windows to street art trails bringing the high street back to life, poetry penned by local people appearing on pavements to residents voicing animations, they give a flavour of what high streets can expect over the next four years’ of the cultural programme.

Whether it's a medieval market town, or a post-war city centre, every high street in England has a distinctive history that can be harnessed to help it achieve a prosperous future.

Investing in heritage delivers good results for people – it means looking after and celebrating the places at the heart of our communities, and the buildings and public spaces which define their character. This investment for our Historic High Streets Action Zone scheme will unlock the potential of these precious high streets and help them thrive again.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive Historic England

Coventry demonstrator scheme

Historic England has already seen the difference that HSHAZ funding can make thanks to the Coventry demonstrator scheme launched in 2019. The Coventry HSHAZ, which was awarded £2 million funding, centred on revitalising the historic retail area known as The Burges. Some 21 buildings are subject to restoration and improvements works, alongside work to restore the public realm. So far, many of the buildings have had roof repairs, windows replaced and six shop fronts have been restored to their former glory. The work to complete the rest of the transformation is on track to finish at the end of November.

High streets selected

The High Streets that have been selected in addition to Coventry are:

East of England

Great Yarmouth£980,742
Bedford£1,760,000
King's Lynn£800,000
Dunstable£1,144,000
North Walsham£975,000
Lowestoft£565,000
Swaffham£380,000
Total£6,604,742

London

Tottenham£2,012,000
Harlesden£437,600
Woolwich£1,766,134
Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets£602,000
South Norwood, Croydon£1,101,923
Total£5,919,657

South East

Ryde, IOW£480,000
Newport, IOW£655,000
Ramsgate£1,110,965
Chatham£1,600,000
Gosport£1,776,500
Hastings£2,000,000
Reading£806,500
Total£8,428,965

Midlands

Leicester£1,500,000
Oswestry£653,080
Lincoln£1,682,000
Stoke Town£1,999,982
Newark-on-Trent£275,000
Buxton£962,700
Wednesbury£1,800,000
Brierley Hill£1,800,000
Hinckley£881,795
Grantham£886,540
Leominster£1,800,000
Kettering£1,480,000
Total£15,721,097

Yorkshire

Huddersfield£2,000,000
Barnsley£1,967,588
Selby£500,000
Wakefield£1,899,994
Hull£1,750,000
Sowerby Bridge£1,997,812
Skipton£1,278,480
Leeds£1,300,000
Northallerton£386,480
Total£13,080,354

North East

Hexham£1,034,521
North Shields£900,000
Middlesbrough£985,880
Total£2,920,401

North West

Wigan£1,271,177
Prescot£1,549,903
Fleetwood£1,792,362
Chester£1,080,000
Lancaster£1,150,000
Burnley£1,261,421
Stalybridge£1,275,000
Kirkham£1,790,980
Bacup£1,085,000
Tyldesley£1,515,000
Ormskirk£755,000
Barrow£1,100,000
Blackpool£532,576
Maryport£592,500
Total£16,750,919

South West

Plymouth£1,994,638
Gloucester£1,905,000
Cullompton£1,103,314
Midsomer Norton£793,000
Keynsham£1,100,000
Chard£1,000,000
Redruth£1,689,063
Weston-super-Mare£1,100,000
Poole£625,000
Tewkesbury£1,478,000
Total£12,788,015
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