An historic part of Leeds city centre is set for a string of ambitious improvement projects after key heritage funding was officially agreed.
Leeds City Council’s plans for New Briggate are set to receive funding as part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones (HAZ) programme.
The nationwide funding programme, managed by Historic England, is designed to support physical improvements, community engagement and cultural activities which will regenerate historic high streets.
The plans for New Briggate will include repair works to historic buildings with the aim of breathing new life into the area surrounding some of the city’s key cultural assets including Leeds Grand Theatre, The Grand Arcade and St. Johns Church.
It also hoped the funding of up to £1.3m, matched with Leeds City Council funding, can also encourage new businesses into the area, bringing empty floor space back into use.
The energy efficiency of some of the area’s traditional buildings will also be improved, with the hope these adaptations could act as a template for how the city’s pre-1919 buildings can play a key role in Leeds meeting its climate emergency commitments.
The project will utilise new technology to provide opportunities for local people, businesses and those in the construction sector to learn and develop new skills. The council will work alongside partners and the community as well as local experts and artists to make sure any plans are in keeping with the heritage of the New Briggate and Mabgate areas.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development said “We’re thrilled to see this exciting and ambitious project moving forward and to see the city’s superb track record in heritage led regeneration being recognised.
“New Briggate is one of the city centre’s most historic areas, and is home to some of our most cherished cultural institutions. This project will be a massive step towards making sure the area’s appearance is in tune with that special heritage while supporting our efforts to create a better connected city.”
As part of the place making in the area the Council will be delivering improved public realm, enhancing the setting of the area, supported by the £18m renovation currently being brought forward by Opera North. The programme will also see a Cultural Consortia made up of cultural institutions from the area and led by East Street Arts, deliver a cultural programme to celebrate and support the high street.
Emma Beverley, Co-Director at East Street Arts said “We can't wait to work with such a range of organisations and businesses as we support the regeneration of New Briggate. It's an exciting prospect to develop a cultural programme that centres the people who use New Briggate every day.
"There is so much untapped potential in the histories and memories of this street. Understanding how the street has changed already will help us imagine what the potential of New Briggate could be in the future. The cultural programme will invite many people to learn about New Briggate's past and create new memories throughout its redevelopment. To that end we have already been successful in securing £10,000 pilot grant funding from Historic England to develop the programme”.
The New Briggate project comes alongside ongoing efforts to breathe new life into Lower Kirkgate, one of the city’s oldest streets, which has seen a number of historic buildings revamped and brought back into use.