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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Lottery cash secures £1.4m town facelift

THE final piece of a financial jigsaw that will trigger a £1.4million boost to Market Place and Old Town area of Whitehaven fell into place this week with a ‘yes’ from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant of almost £660,000.

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revamp: Market Place, Whitehaven, has won Heritage Lottery funding

Shop fronts will be replaced and, where possible, living accommodation will be re-instated in upper floors. Public space will also be given a makeover to remove street clutter and a key part will be the restoration of the dilapidated YMCA building on Irish Street.

The funding has been secured by Copeland Borough Council through the Heritage Lottery’s Townscape Heritage Initiative. It will be used to enhance and repair the area of town centre including Market Place and James Street, and the lower ends of Queen Street and Swingpump Lane.

All buildings in that area are eligible for support through the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) scheme and can get a grant of up to 60 per cent towards improvements. Buildings have been prioritised in terms of their location, significance, character or state of dilapidation, and include the former YMCA, which has already received planning permission to become Whitehaven Foyer, encompassing housing, training and jobs. Others on the priority list include 32 James Street and 10, 11, 45 and 48-50 Market Place.

In the five-year-plan which is also backed by £390,000 from Britain’s Energy Coast and £250,000 from Copeland Council, the physical appearance and viability of key buildings will be improved to help bring an economic boost to the area. The £250,000 from Copeland was committed in 2011, when the bidding process began, so is not affected by the current round of cuts.

Coun Mike McVeigh, Copeland council’s ‘heritage champion’ said: “Heritage and economy go hand in hand and improvements of this kind can only serve to boost the town.

“It is an exciting project which will significantly upgrade an important historic area of the town and I look forward to seeing the changes it will bring.

“I would also like to heartily commend the fantastic work done by our staff on this bid.”

The area earmarked for renovation is probably the oldest in town which emerged prior to the involvement of the Lowther family when Whitehaven was just a small fishing village. The streets where the restoration work will take place formed Whitehaven’s earliest commercial centre but have been in decline for some years, despite being home to a number of small, independent retailers. Part of the undertaking will be to restore original features to buildings, remove poor-quality repairs or inappropriate alterations made over the years.

Photographic and other documentary records will be used to help in the restoration. Where original chimneys have been removed they will be replaced using traditional materials; new or salvaged slate will be used on roofs; and non-traditional timber or plastic windows will be replaced with vertically sliding sash wooden windows.

Local residents, shop owners and traders worked in partnership with the council to help develop the project and property owners will themselves be making contributions to the work.

Skills training will also be a feature, with courses ranging from taster days for the complete beginner to master-classes for those in the construction industry to ensure local people gain the heritage skills necessary to care for buildings in the future.

The public will be kept informed about the scheme and its progress through leaflets, newsletters and eye-catching shop window posters.

The council first expressed an interest in going for the funding in October 2011 so it has taken two years to get this far. It says that the project will complement existing developments including Albion Square, the Town Team plans, improvements to Whitehaven Market and Market Hall, the Beacon Partnership, Whitehaven Marina and other regeneration plans across the town.

Sara Hilton, head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West England, said: “Whitehaven is within a development area for HLF so I’m delighted that this project will go ahead and will contribute towards the rejuvenation of an historic part of the town bringing a much-needed economic boost to the area.”

Have your say

Surely some of this cash could save the civic?!.... its a major part of our town and heritage!

Posted by Becca on 9 October 2013 at 22:01

Lottery Cash to renovate the Market Place, Pubs, Betting Shops, Chippies and Hairdressers etc. King Street, Charity Shops, Building Societies, Pound Shops, what a boost to Whitehaven! Ha! What a waste of money! Great to see money spent on private properties that the owners should refurbish themselves!

Posted by anon on 30 September 2013 at 14:04

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