Gold Street improvements knocked back for funding by Historic England

A project aimed at improving Gold Street by renovating its shop fronts has been rejected for funding by Historic England.

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 1:12 pm
The council had been hoping for funding to improve the look of shop frontages on Gold Street

Northampton Borough Council had applied for a slice of a £40million fund being offered by the organisation as part of its Heritage Action Zones programme to enhance and protect high streets across the country.

The £40million was allocated to Heritage England as part of the government’s £675million Future High Streets fund, but the two were treated as different schemes with separate applications required.

But while the town is still in the hunt for £25million of Future High Streets funding, council leader Jonathan Nunn confirmed that Heritage England had knocked back the application for Gold Street.

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Speaking at an overview and scrutiny meeting on Monday (September 30), Councillor Nunn said: “We were disappointed we didn’t get any funds from the Heritage Action Zone package, as we had been persuaded by them to come forward with the Gold Street scheme. Having offered their support initially we were disappointed not to get anything.

“They said that they were heavily oversubscribed in the Midlands areas, and that the ownership of the stores in Gold Street was quite complicated with a lot from outside of the area.”

Labour councillor Emma Roberts questioned whether the council was a victim of its own actions in ‘selling off’ some buildings, and felt it was a problem she had heard often during debates in the council.

Councillor Nunn responded: “Historic mistakes were made, but Gold Street has been predominantly commercial for some time and we have a mix of local shops and some out-of-area or overseas companies.

“It does need to acquire places it doesn’t own, and I don’t think there’s been a more important time for councils to step in.”

The leader also outlined the upcoming timeline for the Future High Streets bid. The plans, being worked on by Northampton Forward, include bold new proposals for a food market on the Market Square and a linear park on the former Greyfriars site.

An outline business case is expected to be submitted in January before the actual submission in April. An announcement on whether the bid is successful is due to be made next summer.

The Gold Street project is unlikely to feed back into the Future High Streets bid, but it may still be something the council explores.

Councillor Nunn told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We definitely think it’s got merit but it might be something the council itself pursues or looks at other funding options for. I don’t necessarily think it would now be included as part of the Future High Streets bid.”