The UK’s historic high streets are to benefit from a £62m government investment to regenerate heritage buildings into modern offices, housing and creative spaces.
UK culture secretary Jeremy Wright said: “Our heritage makes communities more attractive places to live, work and visit. This £62 million 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. It is right that we do all we can to not only protect our heritage but make it work for modern life so it can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.”
The announcement forms part of the UK government’s high street plan, announced in last year’s budget, which includes a £675m future high streets fund and a £1bn business rates discount for small high street retailers.
UK communities secretary, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: “We’re absolutely committed to seeing our high streets thrive now and in the future. That’s why we put a plan to secure the future of the high street and are taking action to ensure they can adapt to changing consumer demand and the rise of online shopping.
“This welcome announcement will help the high street to capitalise on local heritage by restoring treasured historic buildings for economic use. This is a proven way to drive footfall, increase further investment and generate even greater civic pride in our high streets.”
Financial secretary to the UK treasury Mel Stride said: “High streets are the lifeblood of towns and cities across the country. By reviving older, disused buildings, we’re ensuring high streets cannot only adapt and change to suit our modern lives – but remain at the heart of our communities for years to come.”
Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson added: “We know that people value their high streets and town centres as spaces where they can meet and feel a sense of communal ownership and belonging. We are therefore delighted to be opening up for applications grants for High Street Heritage Action Zones.
“Through physical improvements and cultural and community activities, we will work with partners to find new ways to regenerate our historic high streets. We recognise the scale of the challenge with empty shops and the significant shift in retail trends and we will combine our experience with the knowledge and passion of local councils, businesses and community groups, to help revive the streets which form the hearts of our historic towns.”