Increasing competition from online outlets is putting high streets across the country under growing pressure. As part of the Government’s drive to help high streets adapt to changing consumer habits, the £95million funding will provide a welcome boost that will breathe new life into historic buildings and areas in our towns and cities.
In Newport, supported by local shops and businesses, a partnership of Newport and Carisbrooke Parish Council, the Isle of Wight Council and Newport Business Association has been successful in winning £700,000 from Historic England.
Alongside contributions from partners, incuding the Isle of Wight Council, this goes towards a total project of £1.4 million for Newport’s High Street and town centre. The aim is to make the high street a place that everybody living on the Island wants to use and visit, and to increase residential accommodation within the town centre. Improving historic buildings in the town is also on the agenda.
Ryde Business Association and Ryde Town Council have had similar success with a grant of £480,000 that alongside partner funds will contribute towards a total of £960,000 to be spent on Ryde’s historic High Street and town centre heritage.
For Ryde, the aim is to re-use a significant amount of vacant floor space through a diversifying mix of commerce and culture, and it is hoped that some town centre space can be turned into homes or holiday accommodation.
The initiative will be funded by combining £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. £3million will be provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a cultural programme to engage people in the life and history of their high streets.
The investment builds on the successful Heritage Action Zones programme, run by Historic England, and will turn empty and underused buildings into creative spaces, offices, retail outlets and housing to support wider regeneration in the 69 successful areas by attracting future commercial investment.
Councillor Wayne Whittle, Cabinet member for Regeneration at the Isle of Wight Council said:
“Heritage for the island is one of our strengths – we have a lot of it. That’s why conserving and enhancing our heritage is key in our regeneration strategy.
“We know that historic character particularly helps commerce in towns, so these grants and the national recognition they bring are not just window dressing but will genuinely help support and grow our shops and businesses in Ryde and Newport, and then across the island.”
Councillor Michael Lilley, Mayor of Ryde, has said:
“I am delighted to hear this great news. Ryde has a great heritage and we need to celebrate this. This recognition will enable us to regenerate our town and start a programme of bringing our high street back to its former glory. This has been a real community team effort and I wish to thank everyone at Ryde Town Council, Isle of Wight Council, Ryde Business Association and Ryde Society that worked collaboratively on Ryde’s submission”.
Councillor Julie Jones Evans, Chair of Newport and Carisbrooke Parish Council said:
“We would like to thank Historic England for their recent panel visit to the Isle of Wight and for recognising the depth and breadth of Newport’s heritage.
“We are excited to be chosen as an area to take forward with funding. We have been inspired by the work done by Historic England in Kings Lynn and Derby and other action zones and we are really looking forward to developing a strong relationship with HE to unlock the potential of the County Town of the Isle of Wight by bringing its historic story to the forefront of regeneration plans for the Island.
“We have strong partnership working in Newport and we recognise that this funding is a key first step towards economic regeneration of our high street and will provide a lasting legacy and foundation for transformational change. Our plans include utilising the HE Streets for all principles, shop front improvements as well maximising benefits from the cultural programme.”
Emily Gee, Historic England Regional Director for London and the South East said:
“We are delighted that the High Street Heritage Action Zones announced today mean that the historic character and local commitment to Ryde and Newport high streets are being harnessed for regeneration. Through partnerships like these, heritage can be a great catalyst for positive change and we look forward to working with the people and businesses of the Isle of Wight to deliver these projects together for the future of the place.”