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Government funding secures future for Fleetwood’s historic high street

Fleetwood Published Monday, 21 September 2020

Fleetwood’s high street is among 14 historic high streets across the North West to receive funding for its revitalisation project.

The high street project will improve historic shop fronts and draw visitors from the market to the town centre

Government funding of £1,792,362 has been confirmed and the project fully worked up for Fleetwood high street, which is among 14 historic high streets across the North West that are struggling and in need of revitalising.

For the past several months Wyre Council, the lead partner in the High Street Heritage Action Zone, has been working up the details of their project. Delivered through Historic England’s successful Heritage Action Zone initiative, it will breathe new life into the historic high street and 13 others across the North West. The projects will bring physical improvements and cultural activities to regenerate and restore local historic character.

More about the Fleetwood High Street project

Fleetwood is a planned Victorian new town designed for Sir Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood by eminent architect Decimus Burton in 1841. The town is characterised by its geometric plan, with squares, crescents and radial roads. It was once a thriving fishing town and the fish processing industry is still a local employer, as is manufacture of traditional lozenges Fisherman’s Friends, made in Fleetwood since 1865. But deep sea fishing has declined, the Stena ferry to Ireland closed in 2010 and the ICI chemical plant, a big employer, also closed down, leading to increased unemployment and a decline in visitor numbers.

Vacancies have been increasing over the past few years on the high street, defined by its decorative red brick buildings, which has attracted vandalism and anti-social behaviour. Poor maintenance and low quality signage up and down the high street have also affected its character.

The aim of this High Street Heritage Action Zone is to create a natural gateway into the town centre, bringing more visitors from the market, the main draw for visitors to the town, and the seafront onto the high street. It will complement projects going on elsewhere in the town, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Coastal Revival Fund. With £TBC of Historic England funding, the project will see key historic buildings revived and each step of the project will be community focused, with a cultural programme that builds on the already vibrant local arts scene that the town enjoys. The lead partner in this project is Wyre Council.

Catherine Dewar, Historic England’s North West Regional Director said, “Our high streets bring people together. They are places to socialise, shop, run businesses and be part of our local community. When high streets suffer, the special, diverse character of our historic places and communities suffers too. Fleetwood high street has so much to offer those who already visit the town market and with some attention and creativity it will link to the market to become a thriving hub. With this funding from the Government, combined with the expertise and passion of local people, the Council and Historic England, the future of Fleetwood’s high street is, thankfully, looking bright.”

Councillor Michael Vincent, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economic Development said: “Fleetwood is a town that is proud of its heritage, and rightly so. We are therefore delighted to have been awarded funds as part of the Heritage Action Zone scheme. The high street is the beating heat of any community and this money will allow us to revive shop fronts and bring back elements of Sir Peter Hesketh’s Fleetwood. The areas of the high street we have outlined in our submission have fantastic architectural heritage and we are so pleased that these will be restored to their former glory.”

Many high streets are under pressure as more people choose to shop at out-of-town retail parks or online, forcing high street businesses to close down and buildings to become vacant. The special character of our historic high streets is suffering which threatens the local identity of our villages, towns and cities.

This funding, now confirmed by government for 68 High Street Heritage Action Zones, combines £40 million from the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport’s Heritage High Street Fund with £52 million from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Street Fund. £3 million will be provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a cultural programme to engage people in the life and history of their high streets.

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