Leicester wins £2m bid to celebrate architectural heritage of city centre streets

Historic buildings in three of the busiest shopping streets in Leicester’s city centre could be in line for a share of £2milllion improvement scheme.

Leicester City Council has successfully bid for the £2milllion award from Historic England to help restore and regenerate buildings in Granby Street, High Street and Church Gate over the next four years.

The project is part of the national High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme and will see at least 40 of the most important historic shopfronts in the area shortlisted for grants to help pay for repair, restoration and a general spruce up.

Property owners and leaseholders will be invited to apply of financial support to repair building frontages, reinstate lost architectural features or bring empty floor space back into use.

The scheme will run alongside the city council’s planned £2.8million investment in public realm improvements to the three streets.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This is fantastic news and I am delighted that Historic England has agreed so generously to support our ambitious plans.

“These important and busy shopping streets are rich in the city’s architectural heritage and you only have to look up to see evidence of some truly remarkable buildings. This new funding will allow us to work with owners and business to preserve and celebrate that.

“We have seen how this approach can help transform parts of the city through the successful Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative. This has helped attract new investment into the city’s historic Old Town and helped make this area a real jewel in Leicester’s crown.

“We have an excellent record of working with Historic England to help ensure we can continue to meet our responsibility to protect, retain and enhance Leicester’s architectural heritage for future generations.

“The High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme is an extension of this and will complement major investment we are already making in improving these three important streets.”

Louise Brennan, Historic England Regional Director Midlands, said: “It’s fantastic news for the people and businesses of Leicester that it will receive much needed funding to help support its historic high streets.

“Historic England is looking forward to working with the local community and stakeholders on this exciting project, and we are hopeful for the future prospects of the area.”

Businesses will be invited to bid for funding from the scheme from early 2020. In the meantime, the project team will be developing a final programme design which will need to be approved by Historic England.

The Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative was supported by £1.1million from the National Heritage Lottery Fund. Over the last five years it has supported projects to restore 19 historic buildings in the city’s Old Town area. The scheme has recently been shortlisted for this year’s Pro Con awards for its transformation of New Street.