Ramsgate scoops £1.1million High Street Heritage Action Zone grant

Ramsgate town Photo Brian Whitehead

Ramsgate is one of 68 historic high streets to be awarded with cash under the  High Street Heritage Action Zone fund.

The award of £1.1million is aimed at helping the high street to recover from declining footfall and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by turning disused buildings into homes, shops, workplaces and community spaces.

The £95 million government-funded High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme, which is delivered by Historic England, unlocks the potential of high streets, fuelling economic, social and cultural recovery.

The lead partners, which are mostly local authorities, are working with Historic England to develop and deliver schemes that will transform and restore disused and dilapidated buildings.

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.

Up to 48% of the nation’s retail stock was built before 1919 and the loss of business occupiers in these historic buildings is placing them at risk and undermining the character, local identity and viability of the high street.

The HSHAZ scheme also includes £7.4 million to fund four years of cultural activities to engage communities with their local high streets, and celebrate the role and importance of these historic areas as hubs of the community. The Cultural Programme is led by Historic England, in partnership with The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England.

The money will fund two arms of the programme, the first is grants distributed through cultural consortia set up by Local Authority partners. These will work with artists and creative organisations local to the high streets to develop their ideas and deliver activity.

The second part of the programme is a series of national cultural commissions. Historic England is asking creatives to respond to briefs that include capturing the everyday spirit of high streets, and connecting high streets across the country; this includes a large-scale outdoor arts celebration of the high street and a four year photography commission to document the changing face of the high street.

‘Picturing Ramsgate’ – an outdoor exhibition of photos celebrating the town’s rich architectural legacy – was installed on September 7 around the town.

The images are from Historic England book, Ramsgate: The Town and its Seaside Heritage. The book is part of the Ramsgate’s Heritage Action Zone (HAZ), first launched in April 2017.

Ramsgate: The Town and its Seaside Heritage combines documentary research with insights from the town’s fascinating architectural legacy, illustrated with new and archival photographs.

Written by Historic England architectural historian Geraint Franklin, it features a foreword by writer, architectural historian and President of the Ramsgate Society Clive Aslet, and contributions from Nick Dermott, conservation architect and heritage advisor to Thanet District Council, and Allan Brodie architectural historian and seaside specialist at Historic England. New photography throughout is by Historic England photographer Chris Redgrave.

The study is the first publication to come from the Historic England and Liverpool University Press partnership, and is part of the Informed Conservation series.

Ramsgate: The Town and its Seaside Heritage is available to buy from the Liverpool University Press website for £14.99.