Kettering has been selected as one of 68 high streets across the country to benefit from a new £95 million Government-funded scheme, says commercial property agent Prop-Search, aimed at fuelling its economic, social and cultural recovery.
The High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme is being delivered by Historic England which will work with Kettering Borough Council to implement a programme of initiatives that will regenerate the town through investment into its historic fabric. The programme was due to launch in April 2020, but delivery of the scheme has been on hold due to the pandemic.
Samantha Jones, an Associate Director of Prop-Search, said: “68 high streets have been offered funding to give them a new lease of life. The lead partners in each town, mostly local authorities, will work with Historic England to develop and deliver schemes that will transform and restore disused and dilapidated buildings into new homes, shops, work places and community spaces - restoring local historic character and improving public realm.”
The funding could be used for a variety of projects, including:
• Completing essential repair works in historic buildings and revealing forgotten features of buildings by restoring shop-fronts and façades
• Stimulating commercial investment in high streets by demonstrating how historic sites can be successfully repurposed
• Developing education projects and bespoke events to help reposition historic buildings as community hubs at the heart of local towns and villages
• Helping address the UK wide skills shortage of heritage professionals in expert fields like stonemasonry and conservation by providing local property owners, residents and businesses with the opportunity to train in these areas
As a medieval town, Kettering expanded rapidly in the late 19th Century, due to the growth of the boot and shoe industry, and therefore the high street offers a great combination of medieval architecture and pre-industrial buildings, with the Victorian infrastructure developed to serve the community. Many of the town's buildings are historically and architecturally important as they were designed by John Alfred Gotch, the first president of the RIBA to come from outside London.
The High Streets Heritage Action Zone initiative is funded with £40 million from the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport’s Heritage High Street Fund and £52 million from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Street Fund. A further £3 million will be provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a cultural programme.