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What are Heritage Action Zones?

Heritage Action Zones are programmes that help encourage growth in historic places and help heritage assets be more productive. A heritage action zone has a programme, made up of a group of projects in partnership with Historic England, the Local Authority and other relevant organisations.[1] The English Heritage website states:

Working with local people and partners, including local authorities, Historic England is helping to breathe new life into old places that are rich in heritage and full of promise – unlocking their potential and making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors. We are doing this through joint-working, grant funding and sharing our skills.

Historic buildings that have deteriorated through decades of neglect will be restored and put back into use; conservation areas improved to kick-start regeneration and renewal; and unsung places will be recognised and celebrated for their unique character and heritage, helping instil a sense of local pride wherever there’s a Heritage Action Zone.

Heritage action zones were announced in the 2016 Culture White Paper. Following an application process, the first ten heritage action zones were selected in March 2017, with each programme expected to last between three and five years. There are currently 18 heritage action zones, with two more starting in 2019:

  • Appleby
  • Bishop Auckland
  • Coventry
  • Dewsbury Living Market Town
  • Elsecar
  • Greater Grimsby
  • Hull
  • King’s Lynn
  • North Lowestoft Heritage Quarter
  • Nottingham
  • Ramsgate
  • Rochdale Town Centre
  • Stockton & Darlington Railway
  • Stoke-on-Trent Ceramic
  • Sunderland
  • Sutton
  • Walworth, London
  • Weston-super-Mare
  • Gosport (beginning Spring 2019)
  • Swindon (beginning Spring 2019)


High street funding announced in Budget 2018

Budget 2018 announced support for the High Street through the Future High Streets Fund. Part of this would include: “£55 million for heritage-based regeneration, restoring historic high streets to boost retail and bring properties back into use as homes, offices and cultural venues.”[2] Further detail was announced in October 2018 by Historic England who set out that £40 million had been allocated to Heritage Action Zones based around the high street. It expects cultural programmes and capital works to begin in 2020, with projects completing by the end of 2023. 40-60 high streets are expected to be included in the scheme.

[1] English Heritage, Historic Action Zones: Explanatory Notes and Guidance, May 2017

[2] HM Treasury, Budget 2018, para 5.14

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