The UK government has announced details of a £62m funding pot intended to breathe new life into historic high streets in England.
The money will be used to help regenerate towns and cities by transforming disused or underused heritage buildings into creative or cultural spaces, offices, retail units and housing. It is part of a wider government strategy to help struggling high streets adapt to changing consumer trends.
The £62m will be distributed through three funding streams. A £44m scheme, overseen by Historic England, is now open for applications. The funding will support local authorities to create “high streets heritage action zones”, giving councils, businesses and community groups access to expert advice and investment to bring historic buildings back into use.
A further £3m will be available through the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a cultural programme to engage people in the life and history of their high streets. Further details will be announced in due course.
Finally, a £15m Transforming Places Through Heritage programme, administered by the Architectural Heritage Fund, will support social enterprise organisations to take ownership of and bring important local buildings back into use. The fund will open for applications in June.
The culture secretary Jeremy Wright said: “Our heritage makes communities more attractive places to live, work and visit.
“This £62m investment will breathe new life into high streets right across the country, benefiting local people and businesses, as well as providing assistance to much-loved historic buildings.”
A number of local authorities have already signalled their plans to apply for funding. Kirklees Council is hoping to secure funding to create a cultural quarter in Huddersfield, and is reportedly on the cusp of purchasing a town centre site for a new museum, gallery and library complex.
In the run-up to its year as UK City of Culture in 2021, Coventry is to receive £2m from the fund for a regeneration project in The Burges, a shopping street that is one of the few parts of the city to survive the second world war and post-war demolition.