Wednesday, June 10, 2015

News: Heritage celebrated on Rotherham High Street

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Finishing touches have been made to the ambitious heritage-led regeneration initiative in Rotherham town centre.

Officials from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) have been given a guided tour of the town's High Street, which is celebrating the restoration of 13 key properties thanks to a total of a £4.7m investment from the HLF, Rotherham Council and the property owners.

The guests, which also include representatives from Historic England (formerly known as English Heritage), the Department of Communities and Local Government and Rotherham Civic Society, saw the exteriors and interiors of the renovated buildings on the High Street as well as new keystones, depicting the history of the street and its properties, that are set within new street paving.

The tour included a visit inside No 26 - The Makers Emporium (pictured, below), which showcases a variety of products crafted by local makers, artists and designers, as well as the former Three Cranes Inn. This dates back to the 15th century and houses Hamby's Antiques on the lower floors and heritage showrooms on the upper floors.

The Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) scheme sees property owners and long term lease holders secure grants enabling them to restore, renovate and repair their historic buildings which are all within a conservation area that radiates from Rotherham Minster. The aim is to encourage new shops, apartments and businesses to locate in the town centre.

Local businessman, Chris Hamby is creating a complex of mixed-used retail outlets (pictured, above) focusing on listed buildings. The plan is backed by a £750,000 long term capital finance loan from Rotherham Council that has secured £677,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) for additional, much needed works.

An additional £140,000 was approved by the council, in the form of a long term capital finance loan to enable the refurbishment works to be completed at The Three Cranes building and former Georgian Town House at 29-29a High Street. An additional £140,000 was approved by the council, in the form of a long term capital finance loan and the council's cabinet approved further funding, in the form of an additional £300,000 loan and £190,000 grant, to enable the works to be finished.

Hamby's shoe shop has moved back from 19 High Street into the former John Mason Jewellers building at the top of the High Street that was restored in a previous round of the heritage initiative. Independent fashion retailers, Yella Brick Road and Things That Boys Like have joined forces to expand into the vacated unit at 19 High Street whilst Craft Corner & The Bears Den is set to relocate across from the Riverside Precinct into the new unit in the Georgian town house.

Rotherham-based graphics print, production and management company, Rainforest Graphics has also been on hand to create new signage and artwork on key properties.

Cllr. Denise Lelliott, advisory cabinet member for Rotherham Council, described the changes to the town centre over the past seven years as "incredible."

"This has been partnership working at its very best," she added. "The work around the Minster and the High Street has been a catalyst for investment and activity across the whole town. The High Street is looking wonderful and my congratulations go to everyone who has been involved in these excellent schemes that have resulted in this wonderful regeneration of the town's historic core."

A spokesperson for the Rotherham District Civic Society, added: "We in Rotherham are the beneficiaries of all this work. Our High Street looks, once again, as it should. The Rotherham District Civic Society would like to thank Chris Hamby and his construction team for their hard work and belief in the future of the town."

An application to the National Heritage Memorial Fund for another phase of the Rotherham Town Centre Townscape Heritage Initiative was rejected in January.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council put forward a project worth £1.9m including a development grant of £39,300 (90% of eligible development costs) for a second phase of works to properties in the town centre conservation area. The project would seek to inform people about the history and heritage of architect John Platt's house (now part of Westgate Chambers), and explore opportunities for artists to display work depicting the architectural and historical heritage of the buildings.

Rotherham town centre website

Images: Tom Austen / Makers Emporium

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