Lancaster in line for £1.28m fund to help transform one of its most historic areas

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Three streets in Lancaster city centre are in line for a £1.28m fund to help unlock their economic potential.

Lancaster City Council has been successful in an expression of interest for funds to help boost the local economy by transforming one of Lancaster’s most historic areas.

St John's Church in North Road

St John's Church in North Road

The city’s Grand Theatre and its plans for a new foyer are a major component of the bid.

Lancaster has been chosen as one of a new wave of High Streets Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ) and will now further develop plans to secure up to £1.28m to unlock the economic potential of an area in the north-east of the city around North Road, Lower Church Street and St Leonardgate.

This area traces the development of Lancaster from its Roman and medieval settlements through its 18th and 19th century expansion as a result of trading opportunities arising from its positioning next to the River Lune.

This creates a rich townscape character and quality that positions Lancaster today as one of England’s Heritage Cities.

The money will be used to help restore and enhance the historic character of the area, creating an attractive, engaging and vibrant place for people to live, work and play through investment in buildings, spaces and activities.

The council says it will help to strengthen connections with the existing heart of the city and improve the cultural offer.

Coun Tim Hamilton-Cox, Lancaster City Council’s cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, said: “The area which will be covered by the HSHAZ is home to an extraordinarily rich heritage, which has helped to shape the city’s distinctive identity and character.

“It does, however, suffer from being disconnected physically from the core city centre, something which we now hope to be able to address and unlock the unique potential that is presented by its historic buildings and streetscape.

“This funding will act as a catalyst to reinvigorate the public realm and its cultural offer in this part of the city, as well as contributing to the wider plans that are emerging for the Canal Quarter.”

Complementary to the core project, the council will also seek to support the Churches Conservation Trust in the repair and re-use of the Grade II* St John’s Church.

The building is identified on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register and has been vacant since the Storm Desmond floods in December 2015.

The investment should help deliver an improved offer for people coming into the city centre.

Tony Johnson, Lancaster BID Manager, said: “Lancaster BID is delighted with the success of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone application for Lancaster. The HSHAZ provides a superb opportunity to build on the physical assets already in place in Lancaster and further add to the welcoming environment for visitors and residents.

“Lancaster BID will actively engage with Lancaster City Council and other partners to facilitate close consultation with the business community to ensure the HSHAZ is a success and fully delivers on its potential for the whole of Lancaster.”

Lancaster City Council will now work with Historic England and local delivery partners to further develop plans for the HSHAZ which would support investment in the city over four years from April 2020.

Earlier this year Lancaster City Council was successful in the first stage of a bid for the Future High Streets Fund for Morecambe, which could ultimately lead to the town receiving up to £25million to transform the high street.