Community groups urged to apply for funding to rejuvenate high streets

Administered by the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Transforming Places Through Heritage programme has £12m to hand out

Stretford Public Hall: receiving £68k to help modernise parts of the building
Stretford Public Hall: receiving £68k to help modernise parts of the building

The charity that manages a £12m fund to rejuvenate high streets and town centres has named the first batch of grant recipients and called on more organisations to consider making funding applications.

The Transforming Places Through Heritage programme, which opened for applications in July, issues grants to community and charity-led schemes that make creative use of underused historic town centre buildings in England.

Administered by the Architectural Heritage Fund, the programme is part of a wider £95m initiative by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to regenerate city and town centres.

The first awards, which total £527,980, include £82,500 given to Arts at the Mill CIC to reinvent Wigan Pier as a civic asset, and £68,000 to the Friends of Stretford Public Hall in Greater Manchester to develop plans for the next stage of the regeneration of Stretford Public Hall.

Other beneficiaries include the Churches Conservation Trust, the Historic Coventry Trust and the St Ives Community Land Trust in Cornwall.

The programme encourages the development of underused town-centre heritage buildings that are in or transferring to community ownership or the ownership of voluntary sector organisations.

Grants range from up to £15,000 to explore the viability of schemes to £350,000 for transformational project grants that pay the capital costs of repair and conversion.

The four-year programme will support at least 100 projects. But only between 10 and 15 are expected to receive transformational project grants.

About £1.3m remains available in 2019/20.

Matthew Mckeague, chief executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund, said: "We know that social enterprises and charities can be instrumental in reinvigorating towns and high streets and in helping reimagine the role these places and spaces can play for 21st century communities."

Further details of the programme are available here.

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