Saturday, August 20, 2022

Historic Leicester shopping streets to benefit from heritage cash boost

Businesses and property owners in two of Leicester’s busiest shopping streets can now bid for a share of a £1.5 million 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 £8 million 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, an 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.”

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