The initiative is part of the government’s plan to prop up high streets that have been hit by a decline in the bricks-and-mortar retail sector and help them adapt to changing consumer habits.
The funding includes £44m of government and Historic England funding to create more High Streets Heritage Action Zones overseen by Historic England. There are already 18 Heritage Action Zones across England; another 40 or 50 are expected to be set up with the help of this new fudning.
Local authorities can apply to the scheme, which will give councils, businesses and community groups access to advice and investment to bring historic buildings back into use and support high streets to adapt.
There is also £3m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund “to support a cultural programme to engage people in the life and history of their high streets” and £15m for the Architectural Heritage Fund to support organisations wanting to bring buildings of local importance – including pubs, libraries and theatres – back into use. The ‘Transforming Places Through Heritage’ programme will open for applications in June.
Culture secretary Jeremy Wright said: “Our heritage makes communities more attractive places to live, work and visit. This £62m investment will breathe new life into high streets right across the country, benefiting local people and businesses, as well as providing assistance to much-loved historic buildings. It is right that we do all we can to not only protect our heritage, but make it work for modern life so it can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.”
Housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire said: “This welcome announcement will help the high street to capitalise on local heritage by restoring treasured historic buildings for economic use. This is a proven way to drive footfall, increase further investment and generate even greater civic pride in our high streets.”
Financial secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride, said: “High streets are the lifeblood of towns and cities across the country. By reviving older, disused buildings, we’re ensuring high streets can not only adapt and change to suit our modern lives – but remain at the heart of our communities for years to come.