Monday, September 12, 2016

News: Seal of approval for Rotherham's regenerated High Street

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The heritage-led regeneration of Rotherham High Street has been permanently recognised with a new plaque.

Last November, Rotherham was successful in the best town centre category in the Great British High Streets Awards, a Government-backed competition to find and celebrate the nation's best high streets.

The competition is run by the Future High Street Forum, which brings together leaders across retail, property and business to advise the Government on the challenges facing high streets and helps to develop practical policies to enable town centres to adapt and change. It was established to help accelerate the programme of local mentoring established in response to the Portas review.

Rotherham came out on top due to its "incredible support for start-up businesses and local retailers" and for the success of the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) which has seen the transformation of key properties and making sure the heritage of buildings was preserved to keep their integrity, while at the same time bringing them up to 21st century standards.

Secretary of State for the Department of Local Government and Communities Sajid Javid (pictured, left) officially unveiled the plaque on a visit to the borough last week. He said: "Last year's Great British High Street competition was a massive success. There were a record number of entries with hundreds of thousands of votes cast.

"Rotherham's award winning entry stood out for its many independent shops and the restoration of its historic centre. I'm sure it will continue to really thrive."

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Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council (pictured, centre), added: "It was great to win the award last year, which recognised the hard work carried out by the retailers and business owners who believed in the high street and made their own investment alongside a number of partners. This restoration plays a crucial part in our ambitious plans to regenerate not just Rotherham town centre but across the borough as well. It is a credit to all those involved to see the High Street looking as good as it does now."

Rotherham town centre was named as a Portas Pilot by the Government in 2012 and compiled a pot of £350,000 to support the Council and its town team partners in realising its vision to create a vibrant and thriving town centre with a different retail offer by fostering new, independent businesses. As well as supporting new independent retailers, funding was set aside to support existing town centre retailers to help them undertake significant business development projects.

The THI scheme targeted listed buildings on the High Street and has seen 13 key properties renovated thanks to a total of a £4.7m investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Rotherham Council and the property owners. The restoration also saw funding from the Government, Historic England and the Arts Council. Some of the most prominent are part of the complex of mixed-used retail outlets focusing on listed buildings like The Three Cranes building and former Georgian Town House at 29-29a High Street created by local businessman, Chris Hamby.

The real seal of approval is that the two schemes have helped the High Street to be 100% let for the first time in years.

Rotherham town centre website

Images: RMBC


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