Following a successful bid by BCP Council, Poole High Street has been selected as one of 68 high streets to receive government funding to restore their local historic character and provide them with a new lease of life. The Poole High Streets Heritage Action Zone (Poole HSHAZ) will receive £625,000 from Historic England, with BCP Council match-funding this amount to create a project fund of £1.2 million over four years.
The government funding is part of a £95m High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme being delivered across the country by local authorities in partnership with Historic England in order to transform dilapidated buildings into new homes, shops and work or community spaces, and to fuel economic, social and cultural recovery following the impact of Covid-19.
Poole has long been recognised for its unique architectural and historic character. Once a small medieval fishing harbour, Poole developed into a major commercial port by the late 17th century and its high street features a mix of Georgian houses, fine Victorian commercial buildings and 1930s art deco shopfronts.
Regeneration will focus on improving four key zones by restoring external features of historic buildings around Poole Museum, Old Orchard, Carter’s/Weston’s Lanes and the Lagland Street junction at Beech Hurst House.
The key objectives of the Poole High Streets Heritage Action Zone are:
· To improve the understanding of local heritage by focusing on significant sites and areas within the high street and revealing their hidden histories;
· To transform the physical appearance of key nodes of Poole High Street by restoring the distinctive and historic character of specific areas;
· To repair and revitalise the historic built environment to better reveal heritage assets;
· To engage with partners and the community to engender a spirit of cooperation and pride of place, and to produce a legacy for the future care of the high street.
As part of the project, a complementary cultural programme of events and creative installations will also be introduced to tell the story of the high street and of those families, businesses and characters who’ve been part of its story.
Councillor Mark Howell, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Culture, said:
“This is great news for the people of Poole and anyone else who values its history and potential.
“Like high streets across the country, Poole High Street has experienced reduced footfall over recent years, a situation worsened by the Covid-19 crisis. This fantastic project will complement our wider plans for regenerating the town centre, such as our application to the Future High Streets Fund, and allow us to celebrate Poole’s rich heritage while supporting an innovative, successful economy and further developing the town into a great place to live, learn, work and visit.
“We’d like to thank Historic England, Poole Quays Forum, the Poole Business Improvement District and Bournemouth University for their support for this project. We look forward to continuing to work closely with them and with local residents, property owners, businesses and others to breathe new life into this wonderful high street.”
Rebecca Barrett, regional director at Historic England in the south west, said:
“Every high street in England has a distinctive history that can be harnessed to help it achieve a prosperous future. Investing in heritage delivers good results for people – it means looking after and celebrating the places at the heart of our communities, and the buildings and public spaces which define their character. This investment will unlock the potential of these precious high streets and help them thrive again.”
A community consultation on the Poole High Streets Heritage Action Zone will be launched from Tuesday 6 October.