Medway Council has been awarded up to £1.6million of government funding to revitalise a section of Chatham High Street located within the Star Hill to Sun Pier Conservation Area.
The project will be delivered through Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone programme and will breathe new life into the high street.
The funding will be used to help the area become a cultural and creative hub with a mix of artists, creatives and makers occupying under-used historic buildings.
Chatham High Street has a rich and important place in Medway’s history. Its development is closely linked to the growth of the Royal Dockyard at Chatham from the 17th century onwards and the High Street has an array of fine historic buildings, including a Georgian mansion and a distinguished Victorian synagogue, both of which are Grade II* Listed.
Historically the area between the High Street and the river was occupied by industry, including the Lion Brewery on Hulkes Lane. The narrow lanes and industrial buildings help to make up the area’s unique character.
The funding will be used to:
- Create a development framework to guide future development in the area in a way which protects heritage and character whilst enabling sensitive sustainable growth and regeneration. The framework will also incorporate a highway accessibility and safety study to help improve safety and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists. It is hoped that this will attract more residents and visitors to the area and help revitalise the evening economy.
- Create a re-use and re-vitalise buildings programme to offer business support, grants and help promote vacant building opportunities, including a specific focus on Chatham House and the Old Mortuary building to create a “hub” for the Heritage Action Zone. This will increase economic activity in the area as well as employment opportunities, co-working spaces, boosting the local economy.
- Facilitate the creation of a local creative consortium to develop a cultural heritage and engagement programme to animate the area’s heritage story. This exciting programme will include community events which aim to increase footfall in the area, and help provide an economically sustainable legacy of the area as a destination in its own right.
Looking forward to watching the project to take shape
Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “Medway is steeped in history and we are delighted to be receiving funding from Historic England to help preserve the future of one of our historic high streets. We will create a Heritage Creative Quarter to promote sustainable economic growth using the area’s rich historic fabric to tell the area’s story. We have invested heavily in Chatham town centre and I am looking forward to watching this new project take shape.”
Historic England’s funding pot of £95 million 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.
Medway Council will continue to follow government advice during the coronavirus pandemic and are working closely with Historic England to ensure the project progresses safely.