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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Jane’s £1.35m spending spree aims to brighten up the town

ON a dark, misty afternoon in January, it is difficult to conjure up images of warm, summer days in Whitehaven.

But Copeland Council’s new Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) officer, Jane Taylor, is looking ahead by talking about £1.35 million plans to transform the town’s Market Place.

Over the next few months, her work will help property owners access grants to restore original features, remove poor-quality repairs or inappropriate alterations.

The scheme will also offer a range of heritage skills and education events for all levels from interested members of the public through to property owners and local building contractors.

Jane explained that although this is a significant package of funding, it cannot support all the properties in the THI area. “As much as I’d like to offer grants to many more occupiers in the area, with limited funds we have to prioritise,’’ she said.

“However, I am hoping the work will lift the area and this will result in its own momentum.’’

During the five-year programme, the first two years of the scheme will focus on six priority buildings. These include the former YMCA which has already received planning permission to become Whitehaven Foyer, encompassing housing, training and jobs. The other buildings are 32, James Street; 10, 11, 45, 48- 50 Market Place.

With work on Albion Square due to be complete during the summer and the first Sellafield staff moving in during the autumn, the aim is to provide an attractive link from the office building, drawing workers through the Market Place and into the town centre.

Jane said: “I am really looking forward to developing the role and seeing the improvements in this historically significant part of the town coming to fruition. Whitehaven has such a fascinating history and I have always enjoyed visiting and working in the town in the past, so this is a really exciting role for me.”

Funding for the THI has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£660,000), Britain’s Energy Coast (£394,600) using NDA funding and Cumbria County Council (£50,000).

Copeland Council has also donated £250,000 from its capital fund. The decision to contribute this money was made at the start of the application process in 2011 before the recent cuts were announced. Without this contribution the project would lose its main funding. Anyone receiving a grant will also have to contribute to the cost of the work.

The £1.35million funding for the Whitehaven Townscape Heritage Initiative can only be spent on improving buildings in the Market Place and providing heritage skills training. If not used on that project, the money would be withdrawn.

Jane, a chartered surveyor, moved to Cumbria in 1996 to work for the Northwest Development Agency, and its predecessor English Partnerships. There she worked on property-related projects and managed the Agency’s commercial portfolio of properties across the county, but mainly in Copeland and Allerdale.

In her spare time, Jane enjoys fell-walking, skiing and cooking and is secretary to TriLakeland Junior Triathlon Club and is a local Girl Guide ranger.

She added: “My first steps are to invite and progress grant applications for the priority projects and commence the skills and training programme.

“It is important that owners, apprentices and local contractors have the knowledge and skills to look after these important buildings, so they can continue to be used and enjoyed by generations to come.”

Have your say

Spending all this money on making the place look nice, yet demolishing the only public loos in the town.
The traffic will be utter chaos once the office workers from sellafield move into the new building and thats to add to the towns awful/pot hole pitted road system.
The to top all that off, a huge percentage of the shops are payday lenders, charity shops or are standing empty in the main shopping precinct!!!- Come on!

Posted by Nic on 28 January 2014 at 12:39

In response to some readers' points, we have edited the above article to include this paragraph: "The £1.35million funding for the Whitehaven Townscape Heritage Initiative can only be spent on improving buildings in the Market Place and providing heritage skills training. If not used on that project, the money would be withdrawn."

Posted by The Editor on 27 January 2014 at 11:47

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