New city grant to help bring high streets "back from the brink"

A £90,000 grant has been donated to deliver cultural activities to help bring high streets "back from the brink".

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 7:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 8:00 am

The money from Historic England has been handed to Wakefield Council's Westgate High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ).

It is one of more than 60 high streets to receive a share of £6 million for their cultural programme.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “The high street cultural programme is a step change in the way we think about bringing high streets back from the brink.

Coun Darren Byford is backing the campaign.

"As we start to see these important historic spaces become regenerated through building work, it is the community-led cultural work that helps people to enjoy their high street again and also have a say in what the future of their high street might be.”

Welcoming the funding, Coun Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for economic growth and regeneration said: “This is a great investment for our city and our district.

“The cultural programme is really important as it aims to make our high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time in, and will support the regeneration work which is already underway to revitalise the Westgate area of the city centre.”

The grant will be used for the Hidden Stories from Westgate Voices - an three-year cultural project which will bring to life the regeneration of Westgate through the stories of those that have lived and worked there.

Coun Byford said: “We want to deliver a diverse range of contemporary events, activities and artistic displays that tell these stories of people who lives and worked in the area in an inspiring and engaging way, that will appeal to residents and visitors.”

The programme will focus on developing and extending Wakefield’s calendar of cultural events.

The cultural programme tells the stories of those who use the revitalised buildings, improving cultural knowledge and historical interest for residents across Wakefield communities and visitors to Westgate.

The funding is part of Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ) initiative to support the heart of the city, encourage businesses to the area and create new jobs

The council has received £1.9million from Historic England which it has match funded to enable it to make almost £4million worth of investment into renovating Upper Westgate’s historic buildings, and adjacent yards and ginnels.

The majority of the funds of the £4million project will focus on making grants available of up to 90 per cent to owners of historic properties within the Conservation Area to carry out high-quality repairs and to bring internal spaces back into use. At least 20 buildings will be restored, for both residential and business use.

This four-year-long High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme, led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.