£95 million funding programmes to “breathe new life” into 68 historic English high streets
68 high streets across England are set to benefit from millions in government funding in a bid to help them recover from declining footfall and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Delivered by Historic England, the £95 million government-funded High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme will see local authorities restore disused and dilapidated buildings into new homes, shops, workplaces and community spaces, bringing back the local historic character.
Highlighting that up to 48 per cent of the nation’s retail stock was built before 1919, Historic England says 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.
The programme has been 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.
An additional £3 million will be also provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a cultural programme.
“High streets sit at the heart of our communities and every part of the country deserves to have one they can be proud of,” commented Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.
“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.”
The £95 million in funding follows the government’s £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund will help to tackle the impact the pandemic has had arts organisations and heritage sites.
Recently, statistics from the Centre for Retail Research highlighted the impact coronavirus has had on the retail sector, with 13,000 bricks and mortar stores closed down throughout the first eight months of 2020 – many from the high street.
“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,” commented Duncan Wilson, CEO of Historic England.
“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.”
The programme will look to build on the work it has done in Coventry, which was selected as the demonstrator scheme and was awarded £2 million to revitalise a historic retail area of the city in 2019.
According to Historic England, 21 buildings are subject to restoration and improvements, alongside work to restore the public realm and thus far, many of the buildings have had roof repairs, windows replaced and six shop fronts have been restored to their former glory.
To see which high streets will receive funding, see the lists below:
|East of England|
|Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets||£602,000|
|South Norwood, Croydon||£1,101,923|