From Plymouth to Hexham, 68 historic high streets across England have been offered government funding to give them a new lease of life and help them recover from declining footfall and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The £95m government-funded High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme, which is delivered by Historic England, will unlock the potential of these high streets, fuelling economic, social and cultural recovery.
The scheme includes funding for four years of cultural activity to engage local communities, and celebrate these historic areas.
68 high streets have been offered funding to give them a new lease of life. The lead partners in each place (mostly local authorities) are working with Historic England to develop and deliver schemes that will transform and restore disused and dilapidated buildings into new homes, shops, work places and community spaces, restoring local historic character and improving public realm.
The High Streets Heritage Action Zone initiative is funded with £40 million from the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport’s Heritage High Street Fund and £52 million from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Street Fund. A further £3 million will be provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a cultural programme.
The High Streets Heritage Action Zone scheme includes £7.4 million to fund four years of cultural activities across the country to engage communities with their local high streets.
The money will fund two arms of the cultural programme, the first is grants distributed through cultural consortia set up by partners. These consortia will work with artists and creative organisations local to the high streets to develop and deliver activity.
The second part of the programme is a series of national cultural commissions. Historic England is asking creatives to respond to briefs that include capturing the everyday spirit of high streets, and connecting high streets across the country; this will include a large-scale outdoor arts celebration of the high street and a four year photography commission to document the changing face of the high street. Further commissions will be announced in each year of the cultural programme.
The cultural programme is led by Historic England, in partnership with The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England.