Government funding of just under £602,000 has been secured to make improvements to Ramsgate’s town centre as part of the Ramsgate High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme.
Ramsgate’s winning bid will create a scheme to transform some of the historic buildings on Harbour Street and repurpose empty buildings on the lower high street for creative and community use over the next three years (until end of 2024).
Work starts immediately with public engagement and the finalisation of the scheme’s project development plans.
The High Streets Heritage Action Zone is part of the £95 million government-funded programme delivered by Historic England to unlock the potential of 68 high streets across the country.
The Ramsgate scheme runs southwards along the lower High Street from its junction with George Street to historic Harbour Street, which then leads to the town’s Royal Harbour.
The £601,900 funding will help deliver:
- A capital works programme on Harbour Street to restore and revive the unique historic character of the area. A series of capital grants will be issued to properties to cover works such as new shop fronts and fascias and the installation of new timber windows.
- Improvements to the public realm, specifically the current ‘coned’ pedestrianisation of Harbour Street between 9am and 5pm.
- A ‘Friends of Harbour Street’ group made up of traders, residents and property owners, supported by the High Street HAZ Project Officer and Steering Committee. This group will be responsible for bringing positive publicity to Ramsgate town centre, hosting events and strengthening the community’s sense of identity and purpose.
- A range of ‘options’ for the sites on the lower high street. Working with the current owners and agents, these premises could be marketed to support them being brought back into use.
- A Cultural Consortium with opportunities to bid into the Cultural Programme, which is part of the wider £95million fund. The fund will support cultural activities that engage communities in Ramsgate, celebrating the local character and heritage.
Cllr Rick Everitt, Leader of Thanet District Council said: “As Ramsgate begins its recovery from COVID-19, we are delighted that funding has been secured to help the town centre thrive again. The high street has always been more than a place to shop and it’s more important than ever to create places at the heart of town where people want to come and spend time.
“The High Street HAZ will not only regenerate buildings that have fallen into disrepair but also create opportunities for residents and businesses to help reimagine the town centre.”
Sisters and owners of Celandine Hall in Harbour Street, Bella Landen and Sophie Hubble, have already secured a capital grant via the High Street HAZ.
They said: “We are grateful to have received support from Historic England and Thanet Council as we restore 29-31 Harbour Street in line with its historic architecture and convert the internal building from disused retail space into a vibrant space that will invigorate the high street and benefit the Ramsgate community.
“Celandine Hall has a rich history and we are delighted to be partnering with both organisations on this project.”
Liz Pollard, Heritage at Risk Projects Officer for Historic England, said: “Every high street has a distinctive history that can be harnessed to help it thrive again. We’re excited to help deliver a High Streets Heritage Action Zone in Ramsgate that will restore shop fronts and repair buildings – starting with the Grade II listed Celandine Hall – to regenerate the conservation area to benefit local people and businesses.”
The news follows the recent announcement of a ‘Ramsgate Future’ scheme to take forward ideas for the town’s development over the next few years.
This will build on existing activity such as the £2.7m Future High Street fund, the original Heritage Action Zone designation and public consultation on the future of the Port with the aim of bringing them all together.
The council will look to submit a bid for the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
Over summer 2021, Historic England will unofficially “twin” towns, through a programme of creative commissions that see artists working with local communities to uncover what they have in common. Ramsgate will be twinned with Ryde on the Isle of Wight, and creative company Mooch will ask people in both coastal towns to create miniature models of buildings due to be regenerated.
High Streets Heritage Action Zones including Ramsgate, will also each receive substantial grants from Historic England for a “cultural consortium” of local arts organisations to create cultural offerings for their high streets.