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Historic Leeds building receives grant to kickstart regeneration

A historic building on Leeds’ oldest street will be regenerated after it was selected to receive funding from a scheme led by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Leeds City Council.

The building at 94 Kirkgate, a former bacon shop and bootmakers that has since fallen into disrepair, will receive a grant for repair and refurbishment as part of the Lower Kirkgate Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).

The grant will help the building’s current owners, the real estate developer Rushbond Plc, comprehensively repair the building’s roof and reinstate the building’s original timber sash windows and shopfront.

Richard Baker of Rushbond said: ‘These are exciting times for Kirkgate and we are delighted to keep the positive momentum of change flowing by commencing these important refurbishment works.

‘There is already some fascinating enquiries from Leeds businesses, who understand the fast-changing nature of this locality and want to be part of this “game-changing” revival.’

The Lower Kirkgate THI, a partnership between the Heritage Lottery Fund and Leeds City Council, offers grant funding to owners of vacant or underused properties on Lower Kirkgate, which is Leeds’ oldest thoroughfare.

The Lower Kirkgate THI has already been credited with attracting several new independent businesses to the area including a barbers’ shop, a bar and restaurant and a vinyl record shop, which now complement the street’s pre-existing businesses.

Lower Kirkgate is set to benefit from more heritage-led regeneration over the coming years including that of the First White Cloth Hall, one of the oldest surviving cloth markets in Yorkshire dating back to 1711.

Cllr Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning at Leeds City Council, said the restoration of Kirkgate is now ‘gathering pace’.

He added: ‘The street is already being nominated for awards which shows how successful the partnership working with our local businesses has been.

‘Our aim is for everyone to enjoy the area and that the enhancement to the appearance of the conservation area is truly appreciated by the people of Leeds and by visitors to the city.’

In addition to grants for repairs the THI also funds a number of heritage skills training events which boost the skills and knowledge of those carrying out repairs to historic buildings.

Earlier this month, the National Lottery Heritage Fund announced the Heritage Impact Fund, a new social investment fund which provides loans to non-profits looking to revive heritage buildings for good causes.

Image credit: Stephen Richards

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