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£15m fund to bring disused buildings into community ownership opens

The £15m Transforming Places Through Heritage fund has opened which looks to find ‘creative reuse’ of local historic buildings such as pubs, cinemas or shops.

Grants can range from a few thousand pounds for viability studies to up to £350k for major transformational projects that take disused buildings into community ownership.

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is managing the fund which is open to social enterprises, charities and community groups.

It’s part of the High Street Heritage Action Zones and Future High Streets Fund, run by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Matthew Mckeague, chief executive of AHF, comments: ‘Today we are starting to build a future where the unique historic buildings in our towns and cities will once again play a central role.

‘With the right support, thriving social enterprises and charitable ventures can inject new life into our great but underused buildings, and begin to reimagine and re-establish our high streets as places of social and commercial prosperity, and common identity.

‘Through initiatives like this fund, and the support AHF will provide, there is an opportunity for these streets to be much more than just retail spaces – to regain their role as the heartbeat of energy, inspiration and interaction at the centre of our local lives.’

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright added: ‘Our Transforming Places through Heritage fund is an innovative approach to help high streets grow as cultural and economic hubs for our communities.

‘I want to encourage organisations across England to apply for funding so that we can get more people out to enjoy these spaces.’

More details on how to apply and project eligibility are available at http://ahfund.org.uk/tpth.

The £44m High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme is being overseen by Historic England and opened for applications in May.

The scheme aims to give ailing ‘heritage’ high streets a boost through building repair work and conversions into to new uses that ‘restore and enhance’ local historic character.

Earlier today, the government launched a new High Streets Task Force to support local authorities in revitalising their high streets and town centres.

The High Streets Task Force – which will be comprised of high street experts – will give guidance and advice to local authorities looking to boost their town centres and survive shifting consumer habits.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter

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