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City gets £1.5m heritage action zone boost for busy shopping streets

Published on Monday, September 21, 2020

Heritage building

HISTORIC buildings in two popular shopping streets in Leicester’s city centre are set to benefit from a major heritage improvement scheme.

Leicester City Council has been awarded £1.5million from Historic England as part of the national High Street Heritage Action Zone programme.

The funding will help support a four-year scheme that will see some of the most important historic shopfronts and buildings in Granby Street and Church Gate repaired, restored and spruced up.

Property owners and businesses will be invited to apply for grants to support work to repair building frontages, reinstate lost architectural features and help bring empty upper-floor space back into use.

The scheme will run alongside the city council’s planned £1.25million investment in public realm improvements. This includes the pedestrianisation of part of Church Gate as part of an ambitious £8million scheme to transform the shopping streets around the Clock Tower.

The funding will also support research into the history of the two streets and key buildings, the development of heritage skills apprenticeships with local businesses, and free initial architectural advice for property owners.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “These important and popular shopping streets are rich in architectural heritage and home to some truly remarkable buildings.

“I am delighted that Historic England has now confirmed it generous funding. We can now begin work with property owners and businesses to help improve shopfronts, preserve the architectural history and celebrate the unique character of these streets.

“We have seen how this approach can be a catalyst to transform parts of the city through the successful Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative. This has helped attract millions of pounds of private investment into the city’s historic Old Town and helped make the area a jewel in the city’s crown.

“We have an excellent record of working with Historic England and this latest funding will complement major investment we are making in transforming the street scene and creating a much more attractive and safer environment for shoppers and visitors in these historic streets.”

Louise Brennan, Historic England regional director (Midlands), said: "Whether it's a medieval market town, or a post-industrial 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." 

Leicester businesses will be invited to bid for funding from the scheme from late-Autumn, and details will be publicised nearer the time.

Leicester is one of 12 areas in the East Midlands to successfully bid for a share of funding available through the national High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme.