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£95million boost to Britain’s historic high streets: Vacant buildings will now be used


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£95million boost to Britain’s historic high streets: Vacant buildings will be used for shops, homes and community centres

  • Chain stores are closing outlets at a record rate of 16 a day, according to studies
  • Funding for 69 high streets combines cash from government departments and the National Lottery’s heritage fund
  • It is designed to encourage residents to engage with history of their local area

Historic buildings will be converted into shops, houses and community centres in a £95million project to breathe new life into our high streets.

The move follows a study showing chain stores are closing outlets at a record rate of 16 a day, ripping the heart out of communities and creating ghost towns.

The funding for 69 high streets combines cash from two government departments and the National Lottery’s heritage fund, designed to encourage residents to engage with the history of their local area.

Historic buildings will be converted into shops, houses and community centres in a £95million project to breathe new life into our high streets (file image)

It comes amid the Mail’s campaign to save Britain’s high streets, which have been badly hit by a range of factors including punitive business rates.

Sources said the locations identified for spending were ‘selected through an open, independent competition process run by Historic England’, with decisions based on which projects would have the longest legacy and where the need was greatest.

However, critics suggested claimed money is simply being diverted to areas where the Conservative party hopes to pick up marginal seats in the next general election. 

In Bedford, where Labour had a majority of just 789 at the 2017 election, up to £2million will be used to reveal the historic features of empty and underused buildings.

Plymouth, a Labour constituency surrounded by Tory seats, has bid for £2million of funding for regeneration works, education projects and community events.  

Up to £2million will go to Stoke-on-Trent to redevelop vacant buildings, with a focus on creating homes above shops. Wigan and Scarborough will also get millions.

Sources said the locations identified for spending were 'selected through an open, independent competition process run by Historic England' (file image)

Sources said the locations identified for spending were ‘selected through an open, independent competition process run by Historic England’ (file image) 

The move follows a study showing chain stores are closing outlets at a record rate of 16 a day, ripping the heart out of communities and creating ghost towns

The move follows a study showing chain stores are closing outlets at a record rate of 16 a day, ripping the heart out of communities and creating ghost towns 

The £95million was announced by Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and Chancellor Sajid Javid. 

It combines £40million from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s ‘heritage high street fund’ with £52million from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s ‘future high street fund’.

Another £3million will be provided by the National Lottery.

Mrs Morgan said: ‘Our heritage is one of our great calling cards to the world, attracting millions of visitors to beautiful historic buildings. 

It comes amid the Mail's campaign to save Britain's high streets, which have been badly hit by a range of factors including punitive business rates

It comes amid the Mail’s campaign to save Britain’s high streets, which have been badly hit by a range of factors including punitive business rates

‘It is right that we ensure these buildings are preserved for future generations but it is important that we make them work for the modern world.’

Mr Jenrick added: ‘Today’s funding, part of the £3.6billion we have committed to helping towns across the country, will revitalise much-loved historic buildings, helping to reverse the decline of our town centres.’

Mr Javid said: ‘This will help places across the country – from South Norwood to Scarborough – protect their treasured historic buildings and support local economies to thrive.’

Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson said: ‘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 again.’

However, Jonathan De Mello, head of property consultants Harper Dennis Hobbs, claimed the Government is pushing cash to seats the Tories see as fertile territory while more deserving towns miss out.

‘These marginal seats will shape the make-up of the next Parliament, and government investment in their high streets will arm the Conservatives with powerful local campaign messaging,’ he said. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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