What is a Heritage Action Zone?
A successful bid has been made for Chester’s historic Rows to be part of the Government’s ‘High Street Heritage Action Zones’ initiative; this will revitalise 14 historic high streets across the North West, and more than 60 across England.
The £95 million government-funded programme is being delivered by Historic England. It aims to unlock the potential of high streets across England, fuelling economic, social and cultural recovery and to breathe new life into them for future generations.
With £1.08m of funding awarded, the High Street Heritage Action Zone will sit within Chester’s wider regeneration plan to bring vibrancy back to the heart of the city centre.
The HSHAZ Area
Chester’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (CHSHAZ) is located around the historic Rows, aligning the four principal historic streets radiating from ‘The Cross’ – Bridge Street, Watergate Street, Northgate Street and Eastgate Street. These streets have strongly influenced the form and layout of the city, and are a surviving element of the Roman fortress.
Improve the physical appearance of the Rows by making permanent enhancements to repair and restore the historic fabric
Enhance knowledge and understanding of local heritage with businesses, residents and visitors
Support the local economy by helping local businesses to enhance their trading environment
Establish a heritage place-based approach to the engagement and reinvigorating of the Rows for the community to enhance their sense of value
The Chester Rows HAZ is very much a partnership programme, with partners engaged through both the Steering Group, and also the various HAZ projects. Current partners include Cheshire West and Chester Council, Chester BID, University of Chester, Chester Civic Trust and Grosvenor Estates.
Rows Physical Improvements
A programme of improvements will be delivered to repair and enhance the physical fabric of the Rows resulting in a more attractive and usable space for the City. A new boutique hotel development will also transform a key vacant unit, driving vibrancy and activity back into the heart of the Rows.
Pop-up Meanwhile Uses
Place for Arts Chester aim to bring together artists with empty units to open temporary pop-up shops, bringing vibrancy and accessible art to the heart of the city centre. A sustainable model will be established to expand the prospect to other areas.
Shop Front Improvement Grant Scheme
A Shop Frontage Improvement Grant Scheme will be available for eligible businesses to deliver frontage enhancements to properties in need of investment to provide a long lasting impact on the quality of Chester’s historic built environment.
Business Guide and Education Programme
The Business Guide and Education Programme will provide advice, guidance and support to businesses on the Rows and will help bring the heritage value of the area to the fore.
Set at places of interest around the Rows, a mix of indoor and outdoor displays featuring innovative technology will tell historical stories in a unique way. The creation of this new trail will enhance the connectivity of the Rows to other historical attractions in the City.
Community Engagement and Outreach
The HAZ Programme recognises the importance of people working in, living on, and visiting The Rows. We want to give opportunities for these different communities to engage in different ways with the heritage of The Rows. So far we have been supporting initiatives including podcasts and research into local business needs.
The University of Chester will undertake a project to look at the re-use of empty units in the City to create creative spaces and bring active uses into the city centre, for example through a journalism hub, community radio, pop-up recording studio and creative studios.
This project aims to highlight the distinctive and unique character of the Rows, bringing a spotlight to all that is being achieved through community engagement and awareness raising, including an annual programme of events and experiences.
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