Swaffham has been given the green light to progress to the next stage of funding

69 high streets across the country will be given a new lease of life thanks to a £95 million Government fund delivered through Historic England’s successful Heritage Action Zone initiative.

High streets bring people together as places to shop, run businesses and feel part of the local community. But many high streets are struggling as more people choose to shop at out-of-town retail parks or online, forcing high street businesses to close down and buildings to become vacant.

The special character of our historic high streets is suffering, which is threatening the prosperity of our villages, towns and cities and eroding their sense of local identity and place.

The £95 million will create 69 new High Street Heritage Action Zones overseen by Historic England.

The selected projects will now work with Historic England to develop plans to revive their high street over a four year programme.

Working with local councils and communities, Historic England will deliver physical improvements and cultural activities to regenerate these high streets and restore local historic character.

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.Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive

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.

The scheme will provide support for historic high streets and the communities who use them so they can adapt to the challenges they face. Through the programme, councils, businesses and community groups will be able to access expert advice and investment to bring historic buildings back to life

Disused or underused buildings will be transformed into creative spaces, offices, shops and housing. This revival will become the catalyst for wider regeneration, with heritage and local character at its heart.

Commenting on the announcement, Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen, Breckland Council’s Leader, said: “We are delighted that our vision for Swaffham has been given the green light to progress to the next stage and we hope that this will enable us to secure significant national funding in due course.

“If we receive funding in the next round it would not only support initiatives to protect the important heritage of Swaffham but also help us deliver plans for the future of the town alongside our partners.

“The funding would help us, alongside others who have a passion for the market town, to fully assess the town centre’s conservation area, consider traffic and pedestrian flows, support repairs to the dozens of heritage properties, and enhance the public spaces to celebrate cultural events.”

Courtesy of Breckland Council– 01/10/2019

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