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£44m ‘historic’ high streets regeneration scheme opens

Historic England is now inviting councils and community groups to bid for their £44m High Streets Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ) scheme.

The scheme aims to give ailing ‘heritage’ high streets a boost through building repair work and conversions into to new uses that ‘restore and enhance’ local historic character.

Projects will also have to show how they will educate the local community on the history and importance of their high street.

To run a HSHAZ scheme, organisations can apply for a grant of between £250,000 and £2m, to set up a four-year partnership with the public body beginning in April 2020.

Organisations who have applied to the Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) can also apply to this programme.

Historic England says in most cases they will provide funding for around 50% of costs, though they would be willing to provide a higher percentage of funding if need can be showed.

HSHAZ was announced two weeks ago as part of a £62m package to improve historic high streets across the country.

As well as the HSHAZ,  £15m will be spent on the ‘Transforming Places Through Heritage Programme’ which will open in June to support social enterprises take ownership of and bring buildings of local importance – such as pubs, libraries or theatres, as well as shops – back into use.

A further £3m will come from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a cultural programme to engage people in the life and history of their high streets.

Earlier this month, a cross-party group of MPs has accused the government of being ‘unwilling’ to make the necessary changes to help struggling high streets.

The housing, communities and local government committee published the details of the government’s official response to that report.

The response highlights the government’s Future High Streets Fund, which it claims will ‘renew and reshape town centres and high streets’.

But the document also rejects claims made by the committee that the ‘burden of business rates falls unfairly’ on high street retailers.

Organisations can send an Expression of Interest to the fund here.

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