The national launch of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme (HSHAZ) scheme has been welcomed in Hexham and Northumberland.
The launch gives final confirmation of funding for Hexham to establish a HSHAZ, which is set to deliver up to £2.4m of improvements to boost the town centre.
The project has been developed by the county council in partnership with Hexham Town Council and Hexham Community Partnership.
The new zone is backed by a wide range of community and business stakeholders and there will now be further engagement with the local community and businesses before the programme begins later this year.
Juliemma McLoughlin, Executive Director for Regeneration, Commercial and Economy at Northumberland County Council said: “This confirmation of a HSHAZ for Hexham is extremely welcome and will allow final preparations to be put in place to launch the scheme this October.
“We are delighted to hear that the Government is backing the significant proposals to capitalise on Hexham’s rich history and heritage to boost the town centre.
“This is the result of a lot of hard work which has been co-ordinated by staff at Northumberland County Council working with Hexham county councillors, by partners at the town council and Hexham Community Partnership, the local community and businesses and Historic England.
“The Council will now recruit two part time programme officers to coordinate the scheme in Hexham, and we will be arranging a local launch during the coming weeks.”
Bob Hull, Mayor of Hexham, said: “Hexham Town Council has pushed very strongly to ensure this very important bid to aid the economic regeneration of Hexham town centre succeeded. It will play a key role in the town’s post Covid recovery in supporting the delivery of the Hexham Neighbourhood Plan which calls for heritage-led economic regeneration of the town centre involving all partners in the project.”
Peter Rodger, Chair of Hexham Community Partnership said: “Town centre regeneration is central to the work of the Community Partnership, bringing the community together to make Hexham a great place for residents, businesses and visitors alike to live, work and play. We look forward to working closely with the town and county councils to introduce this new zone.”
While the national launch took place today there will be a local launch in Hexham, before work gets underway this October.
The HSHAZ aims to bring a major boost to the town centre by enhancing the Hexham Conservation Area, and targeting particularly Priestpopple, Battle Hill and Cattle Market.
Main elements, which will be focussed within these areas, include:
- Repurposing and bringing vacant and ‘at risk’ historic properties back into use, introducing a grant scheme to help businesses with costs;
- Delivering streetscape and environmental improvement works to make the town centre more attractive as a place to live, work and visit; and
- Supporting activities which engage the community and visitors, and bring the town’s rich history to life.
Dedicated programme officers will co-ordinate and run the programme locally, supported by community organisations, local volunteers, the public and private sectors.