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Historic city centre shopping streets set to benefit from heritage cash boost

Published on Thursday, May 27, 2021

High Street Heritage Action Zone graphic

BUSINESSES and property owners in two of Leicester’s busiest shopping streets can now bid for a share of a £1.5million fund to help restore historic buildings.

Leicester City Council has been awarded the cash 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 revamped as part of a major heritage-led regeneration scheme.

Property owners and businesses can now 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 major investment in public realm improvements. This includes the pedestrianisation of Church Gate as part of the ambitious £8milllion scheme to transform the shopping streets around the Clock Tower, and a planned £900,000 improvement scheme on part of Granby Street.

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.

Alongside this, the city has been awarded an additional £80,000 from Historic England to develop a programme of activities and events driven by local organisations and focussed on the two streets. Projects will include a young person’s leadership programme with The Mighty Creatives, exhibitions by De Montfort University, and outdoor street festival, and comedy events from the Big Difference Company.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who is the city council’s heritage champion, said: “These important and historic shopping streets are rich in architectural heritage and home to some remarkable buildings.

“The generous funding from Historic England will allow us to work with businesses and property owners to help improve their buildings, preserve architectural history buildings and celebrate the unique character of these streets more widely.

“We have seen how this heritage-led approach to regeneration can transform and reinvigorate parts of the city centre through the success of our Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative. This has helped attract millions of pounds of new investment into the city’s historic Old Town and helped make the area a jewel in the city’s crown.

“I think we’ve demonstrated that investment in conserving and celebrating our architectural heritage can offer a blueprint for the future of city centres. I am really excited that we are able to follow up on this fantastic project with new High Street Heritage Action Zone funding that will allow us to bring similar heritage-led improvements to two more historic city centre streets.”

The Leicester High Street Heritage Action Zone programme will formally launch on Tuesday 1 June with a virtual event hosted by the Leicester-based Documentary Media Centre as a live event on its Facebook page here. The event runs from 1pm to 3pm with a range of invited speakers and people are welcome to drop-in at any time.

The city council is also working with Leicester-based Seed Creativity to develop a ‘Leicester’s Roots’ campaign, which will celebrate the history and buildings of Granby Street and Church Gate. People are invited to contribute their own memories and stories of the area. To find more visit www.storyofleicester.info/LeicestersRoots

More information about the High Street Heritage Action Zone Grant and how to apply for a grant is available on the city council’s website here

You can also request information by emailing LeicesterHAZ@leicester.gov.uk

Leicester City Council has also recently received a further £24,000 to survey and look at options for the striking, Grade II-listed Coronation Buildings at 76-88 High Street. This will hopefully lead to further support for the restoration of this important historic building.

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About High Streets Heritage Action Zones

The High Streets Heritage Action Zones is a £95 million government-funded programme led by Historic England, designed to secure lasting improvements and help breathe new life into our historic high streets for the communities and businesses that use them. Historic England is working with local people and partners to unlock the rich heritage on these high streets, through repair and improvement works as well as arts and cultural programmes, making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors. https://historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/heritage-action-zones/regenerating-historic-high-streets/

About Historic England

We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.