£62 million heritage boost for high streets

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has announced new funding will bring old buildings back into use and turn them into offices, housing and creative spaces.

High streets lie at the heart of communities but are under increasing pressure as more people choose to shop online. Therefore, building on successful programmes, the £62 million fund will be used to regenerate places by turning disused or underused buildings into creative spaces, offices, retail outlets and housing.

The initiative is part of the government’s comprehensive plan for High Streets announced at last year’s Budget, including a £675 million Future High Streets Fund and a £1 billion business rates discount for small high street retailers.

The funding includes: £44 million of government and Historic England funding to create dozens of High Streets Heritage Action Zones overseen by Historic England; £3 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a cultural programme to engage people in the life and history of their high streets; and £15 million for the Architectural Heritage Fund to support social enterprise organisations like Historic Coventry Trust to take ownership of and bring buildings of local importance.

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.”

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire added: “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.”