How Leominster town centre will benefit from £3.6million

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Thursday, September 16th, 2021 6:46pm

By Gavin McEwan - Local Democracy Reporter

Details of how £3.6 million will be spent to help reinvigorate the historic centre of a Herefordshire town have been unveiled.

The government-backed Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) scheme for Leominster will consist of:

• A premises renovation fund of £764,000 over three years, to fund restoration of key historic buildings and shopfronts in the town;

• Further grants totalling £600,000 will bring key underused buildings back into economic and residential use;

• Improvements to the appearance and infrastructure of the central Corn Square will get £750,000;

• Streetscape improvements in the wider conservation area will get £1.33 million;

• WiFi for visitors, and footfall counters to help local businesses (£40,000);

• A heritage web-based app to widen the appreciation of Leominster’s history (£20,000);

• A review of how new developments in the conservation area are assessed (£10,000);

• A review of the town’s historic building records to better understand its distinctive features (£3,000).

A further £85,000 will fund a project officer to oversee the work over the three years.

According to a Herefordshire Council briefing document setting out the scheme, it will use heritage as a catalyst for wider economic and social regeneration in the town.

Key outcomes will include the restoration of 50 heritage assets and key buildings, the removal of six assets from the local heritage at risk register, improved public access into three key buildings, more markets and events, 30 improved and restored shopfronts, as well as road surfacing and pedestrian access improvements, it adds.

Managed by government agency Historic England, the HAZ scheme consists of £92 million of government funding and a further £3m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It is so far supporting programmes in around 70 English towns.

Herefordshire Council will vote next Friday on whether to match-fund the £1.8 million grant with the same amount from its own coffers.

If approved, it will then work with Historic England and the town council to implement the spending plan over the next three years, assisted by a steering group chaired by the town mayor and which also includes representatives from local youth, disability, heritage and business bodies.

But the briefing document warns the grant funding for the current financial year could be substantially underspent, leading to a cut in the overall amount received from Historic England.

The programme was due to start in spring last year, but was delayed by the Covid pandemic.

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