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Mansfield wins bid for National Lottery funding

The Townscape project management team is celebrating after its combined efforts have resulted in a grant of over £900,000 being awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to revitalise one of Mansfield's best-known heritage areas.

Mansfield Business Improvement District (BID) and Nottinghamshire County Council made the initial approach to the Heritage Lottery Fund for Townscape Heritage grants to apply for a Townscape Heritage grant to repair and restore some of the most iconic buildings along Leeming Street, which forms part of the 'Market Place Conservation Area'. 

The project was then backed by Mansfield District Council and full support was offered by Vision West Nottinghamshire College. The four year project will see new jobs generated and money put back into the economy with a need for support from architects, surveyors and a project development officer.

The project, which sees an investment of £1,175,500 with £921,600 coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund, focuses on the importance of the townspeople's involvement in heritage, instilling an appreciation of the environment and encouraging engagement in the history of Mansfield to preserve both built and cultural heritage.

This will include community groups such as schools, colleges and volunteers working to drive education and local heritage involvement through a series of projects over a four year period starting in 2018.

Leeming Street is the first area that will benefit from the investment which could see its shop fronts restored to their former glory. Landlords and shop owners will be invited to apply for a grant to cover up to 90% of the cost to restore their properties, bringing buildings' original character back to life and finding new uses for buildings to bring them back in to full use. 

19 properties have been highlighted that are in need of restoration including six listed buildings, some of which are hundreds of years old and of a historic interest for the town.

The high street regeneration project is an important part of maintaining the overall look and feel of the conservation area as it will encourage new businesses to take up vacant properties, and in turn attract new shoppers to the area.

This phase of the project will also provide 'real life' work experience opportunities to teach conservation and restoration skills to young people helping to maintain the town's built heritage for years to come. Students will support the council and building contractors with the architectural design and physical restoration of buildings.

Education plays a vital role in the overall project as it aims to generate a greater awareness about local heritage to promote pride, appreciation and a sense of ownership of the town by the residents, all of which is expected to lead to regeneration of the area and reduced antisocial behaviour.

 Schools and the college will have the opportunity to take part in activities such as research and development, photography and art, model building, heritage trail design and heritage walks as part of their curriculum and the whole project. Students will use Mansfield as a case study to further develop their skills and understanding of their town's history.

Vision West Nottinghamshire College aims to support the HLF funded project in a number of other ways too. Plans include:

• A-level and higher education students to support with research and interpretation looking at ways in which the area's history can be used to enhance the town centre and encourage more people to visit
• Creative media students to produce a film or DVD documenting the heritage of the area, helping raise community awareness and support for the project while instilling civic pride

Performing arts students to devise performances based on local history or historical characters, which will be performed in the town centre as 'street theatre' and in local schools.

Later down the line other parts of the conservation area such as the Market Place could also benefit from the grant which could see 19th century shop fronts reinstated and original features restored.

Sarah Nelson, manager of Mansfield BID, said: 
"We're delighted that this project is taking off, particularly as we worked very hard to secure funding right at the beginning for the initial studies into the viability of the work. 

"Town centres are evolving all the time, with different shops and businesses, and we are lucky in Mansfield in that footfall is increasing and new developments are being introduced all the time. For example, the Rewarding Visits scheme, which marries both touch screen and voucher technology, is a superb example of a modern approach to retail and it is something the BID is working in partnership with a number of partners to bring to Mansfield town centre.

"If we can work to restore some of the old buildings back to how they perhaps once were, we can attract more shoppers and more businesses into the town centre and that has to be a good thing."

Councillor Diana Meale, Chair of Economic Development at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: 

"This is fantastic news for Mansfield town centre and is testament to several years of hard work by numerous organisations and individuals, not least Mansfield BID, Denis Hill and Councillor Joyce Bosnjak. Mansfield is blessed with many impressive, iconic buildings which will now be restored to their former glory, putting the pride back into our town centre and giving local businesses and visitors a huge lift.

"We really hope that, alongside other recent investments in the town centre such as the bus station interchange, this can help deliver further increases in footfall back into Mansfield and give the local economy a much-needed boost. Now we're looking forward to getting stuck in alongside our partners and delivering what we believe can be an excellent scheme for the town centre."

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said:

"We've been investing money raised through the National Lottery in the UK's historic conservation areas for more than 20 years and we've seen first-hand the incredible difference it has made to local communities. This project in particular has the potential to have a powerful effect not only on local pride but also on local economic prosperity in Mansfield."

Louise Knott, vice-principal for communications, engagement and student experience at West Nottinghamshire College said: 

"We're really looking forward to being part of the heritage scheme, which will provide a much-needed boost to the town centre's regeneration and visual amenity. As well as increasing footfall and ensuring Mansfield remains a vibrant and lively destination, the project provides opportunities for students across various curriculum areas to support it in innovative and creative ways that benefits their overall learning experience.

"The town centre's rich architectural heritage must be cherished and preserved for generations to come, and this begins with engaging young people and using local heritage as a way to help develop their skills." 

Councillor Dave Saunders, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, said: 

"This grant is going to make a real difference to the way in which we see our town. Buildings in the conservation area will be restored and improved whilst the heritage of the area is preserved. 

"It will result in a more inviting and attractive look and will therefore help to build a vibrant and desirable destination of choice for visitors and further boost the local economy.

"Mansfield District Council looks forward to working in partnership as the project develops over the next four years."

Published on Wednesday 15 February 2017


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