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photo credit: Tyne & Wear BPT
photo credit: Tyne & Wear BPT

New Grants Awarded to Regenerate & Revitalise English High Streets & Town Centres

16 January 2020

First Heritage Development Trust Pilot Grants and Transformational Capital Grants awarded to regenerate and revitalise high streets and town centres In England

The AHF (Architectural Heritage Fund) is delighted to announce today the first offers of Heritage Development Trust Pilot Grants and Transformational Capital Grants.

In total, in this round of funding, the Architectural Heritage Fund has awarded over £2 million in grants to projects led by charities and social enterprises that provide plans and proposals for revitalising high streets and town centres in England. 

The awards are part of the Architectural Heritage Fund’s Transforming Places Through Heritage programme which contributes to the regeneration and renewal of high streets and town centres in England by supporting charities and social enterprises to create sustainable new uses for redundant or underused historic buildings. The Transforming Places Through Heritage programme is funded by a £15 million grant from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Heritage Minister Helen Whately acknowledges the value of the Architectural Heritage Fund's programme to local communities: "I am delighted that this government investment will encourage more charities and social enterprises to make use of historic buildings at the heart of our towns and cities. This funding will support local projects across the country, attracting increased investment, creating jobs and community identity." 

The AHF-led programme exists within a wider set of interventions aiming to revive heritage high streets in England. The other programmes are the High Street Heritage Action Zones, being led by Historic England, and the Future High Streets Fund, administered by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and led by a number of local authorities. The organisations and projects awarded grants by the Architectural Heritage Fund will be helping deliver key projects within some of these areas. 

An important aim of the Transforming Places Through Heritage programme is to encourage a more diverse range of charities and social enterprises to see the particular value of reusing historic buildings and in helping to diversify the range of uses within town centres. By supporting these projects now the Architectural Heritage Fund hopes to encourage other organisations to consider the adaptation and reuse of historic buildings in their future projects and to locate these projects on high streets and within town centres. This will help to realise a number of other positive benefits, including the contribution these buildings make towards local character and community identity, the positive environmental impact of reuse, and in encouraging higher quality design standards.

Recognising that the delivery of heritage-led regeneration and place-making requires specialist organisations, and that in many local areas capacity and expertise can be limited, the specific purpose of the Heritage Development Trust Pilot Grants is to enable a number of organisations to make a step-change in their operations. These grants will help ensure the successful organisations' long-term sustainability and community impact and legacy by taking a portfolio-wide approach to their assets and acting entrepreneurially in terms of securing new forms of funding and ownership models.

Liz Peace, Chairman, the Architectural Heritage Fund, said: "Congratulations to all the organisations on receiving their grants for projects that will contribute enormously towards transforming high streets and town centres into thriving places, strengthening local communities and encouraging local economies to prosper. The AHF is extremely pleased to be working within a new, bold and exciting programme of regeneration where we can help maximise the benefits to local communities." 

The four successful organisations awarded Heritage Development Trust Pilot Grants exemplify the type of plans and proposals that can revitalise England's high streets and town centres. They demonstrate creativity, fresh ideas, community-led approaches and provide new spaces for a range of activities and which will help bring back lost footfall:

Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust: Heritage Development Pilot Grant of £150,000

The grant will enable the Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust to extend its programme of activities across the region, working on former residential and commercial buildings in high streets, historic schools, and industrial heritage sites such as pumping stations at town centre locations stretching from Newcastle and Gateshead to Sunderland and Hexham. The Trust has also received a Transformational Capital Grant for its current project, 170-175 High Street West, Sunderland (below). 

Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust: Heritage Development Pilot Grant of £147,643

The grant will help the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust grow, enabling it to restore and adapt five projects across Yarmouth’s town centre. These include a number of listed former houses and an historic pub converted for a mix of affordable housing, tourism and commercial use, as well as a Victorian church and 14th-century flint and brickwork round tower (part of Yarmouth’s Scheduled medieval town wall) that will be innovatively adapted for holiday accommodation. Together, these projects will leave a legacy of additional affordable housing and an expanded tourist economy in the town. One of these projects, 160 King Street, has also received a Transformational Capital Grant (below).

Historic Coventry Trust: Heritage Development Pilot Grant of £150,000

The grant will support Historic Coventry Trust through a key transition period as they take on 22 historic properties from Coventry City Council and repurpose these important listed sites for the future. These include the national demonstrator project for High Street Heritage Action Zones at Hales Street, the 14th-century Swanswell and Cook Street Gates (the only two of the medieval gates to survive, the late-medieval Charterhouse site and the 19th-century Greek Revival Drapers’ Hall. These projects will be restored and adapted to create exciting new commercial and public spaces, events venues and unique visitor attractions and holiday cottages in time for Coventry’s 2021 City of Culture year. A further project, Lychgate Cottages, has also received a Transformational Capital Grant (below).

Valley Heritage, Lancashire: Heritage Development Pilot Grant of £90,000

The grant will support this volunteer-run organisation to employ its first staff and undertake additional projects in and around the Pennine former mill town of Bacup, Lancashire. Valley Heritage will initially focus its work on redeveloping the landmark Scottish Baronial Yorkshire and Lancashire Bank on Bacup’s high street, to become a co-working hub and offer residential accommodation for young people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

At the end of the three-year funding period the organisations should have completed at least one town centre historic building regeneration project and have a clear plan for acquiring more heritage buildings to add to their portfolios. In addition, the organisations should have diversified and grown their income streams, developed partnerships with local stakeholders and be in position to play a key role in delivering heritage regeneration over the long term in each of their localities.

The Architectural Heritage Fund hopes that the first awards under the Heritage Development Trust Pilot Grants will invite interest and future applications from other charities and social enterprises with plans in place to take on a portfolio of projects to deliver heritage-led regeneration in high streets and town centres.

"Our intention is to build from what has been learned and the achievements the four pilot projects have made, and so we hope to scale up this programme once the success of the pilot is proven to support many more organisations," said Matthew Mckeague, CEO, Architectural Heritage Fund.

Three of the organisations, together with Liskeard Library in Cornwall have also been awarded capital funding from Transformational Capital Grants. The grants are awarded to exemplar projects that find alternative uses for buildings that serve the needs of the local community and present new ownership structures and investment models that act as a catalyst for other owners and for achieving the wider regeneration of the high street or town centre. The awards for Transformational Capital Grants have been made to:

Liskeard Library, Cornwall: Transformational Capital Grant of £100,000

Liskeard Library is a Flemish Renaissance-style building built in 1896. An important and much-loved building on the main street, it has stood empty since March 2019 and is in a severe state of disrepair. The Real Ideas Organisation is restoring the building and reconfiguring the inside to create a mixed-use space for income-generating activities including flexible shared workspaces, cafe and venue hire that will sustain the library services and address the needs of the local community. 

170-175 High Street West, Sunderland: Transformational Capital Grant of £348,350

The three terraced buildings date back to the 18th century. The surviving Georgian terrace is considered to be of regional importance due to its historical and communal value. 173 has strong connections with the foundation and development of the Binns department store; the building was originally Binns Drapery, which eventually became Binns, one of Sutherland's most iconic institutions and synonymous for many with the city's heyday. 170-175 will be restored and converted by Tyne and Wear Preservation Trust, in partnership with PopRecs music shop, art space and venue. The restoration is considered a vital part of the redevelopment of Sunderland High Street marking a gateway from residential areas into the High Street area. 

160 King Street, Great Yarmouth: Transformational Capital Grant of £350,000

160 Great King Street is Great Yarmouth's only surviving example of a 16th-/early 17th-century jettied timber frame building. The jettied upper floor was characteristic of 'row' houses, and this is one of the only row houses that exists in the town. The rows were a medieval network of narrow alleyways which linked the main thoroughfares but many were lost due to aerial bombing during both world wars and major floods. Once restored, 160 King Street will provide a commercial space on the ground floor and residential space above.

Lychgate Cottages, Coventry: Transformational Capital Grant of £350,000

3-5 Priory Row (known as Lychgate Cottages) are three remarkable close-studded timber frame properties dating from around 1415 and the only upstanding building surviving from the 12th century St Mary's Priory complex. Historic Coventry Trust intend reviving a national important heritage asset, making the properties accessible to the community and visitors to the city, and providing much needed visitor accommodation in the lead up to Coventry City of Culture 2021.       

The Architectural Heritage Fund has also awarded in this round of funding: Project Development Grants, Project Viability Grants and a Crowdfunding Challenge Grant.

 Details on all Architectural Heritage Fund grants, how to apply and eligibility are available at


Notes to Editors:

Information on Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zones is here

Information on MHCLG’s Future High Street Fund areas are here


Full list of awards 

Crowdfunding Challenge Grant

  • Glendale Gateway Trust - 21 High Street, Wooler                                               

Project Development Grants

  • Caistor and District Community Trust - 2-4 Market Place, Caistor                  

  • SeaChange Arts - The Ice House, Great Yarmouth 

  • Heritage Lincolnshire - Greyfriars, Lincoln

  • Barnsley Civic Enterprises - The Civic, Barnsley                                      

  • Paignton Picture House Trust - Paignton Picture House, Paignton                

Project Viability Grants

  • Ulverston Community Enterprises - Ulverston Coronation Hall  

  • Rio Centre (Dalston) Ltd - Rio Cinema, Dalston                                                        

  • Support Staffordshire - Mansell House, Lichfield                                                 

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) helps communities across the UK find enterprising new uses for the old buildings they love. For further information regarding the AHF visit our website

For further information please contact: / 020 7925 0199

For media enquiries contact: 020 8617 0210/07900 891287 / 020 7925 0199

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