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£95m to ‘breathe new life’ into historic buildings

Words: Laura Edgar
Nicky Morgan / Chris McAndrew

Culture secretary Nicky Morgan has announced that £95 million will split between 69 towns across the country to ‘breathe new life’ into historic buildings and high streets.

The government intends the funds to be spent on helping high streets to adapt to changing consumer habits, such as competition from online shopping.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Heritage High Street Fund would contribute £40 million – £52 million comes from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Street Fund, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund would provide £3 million.

The government said the investment is intended to build on Historic England's Heritage Action Zones programme. Empty and underused buildings could be turned into creative spaces, offices, retail outlets and housing to support wider regeneration and attract future commercial investment.

The government said the funding could also be used to:

  • Develop education projects and bespoke events to help reposition historic buildings as community hubs at the heart of local towns and villages.
  • Help address the nationwide skills shortage of heritage professionals in expert fields like stonemasonry and conservation by providing local property owners, residents and businesses with the opportunity to train in these disciplines.

Morgan said historic buildings should be preserved but that it is “important that we make them work for the modern world”.

“This £95 million will help breathe new life into high streets all over England, benefiting businesses, supporting our much-loved buildings and helping to make our communities more attractive places to live, work and visit.”

Duncan Wilson, chief executive at Historic England, added: “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.”

The 69 towns to receive funding can be viewed on Historic England’s Google Map.

Image credit | Chris McAndrew