More than 35 property owners have signed up to Fylde Council’s Shop Front Improvement Scheme which was launched after Kirkham was designated a High Street Heritage Action Zone by Historic England.
Grants covering up to 90 per cent of the design and build costs of the specialist restoration work are available to businesses to help reinstate historic features – including timber sash windows, slate roofs, timber shop fronts, brickwork pointing and guttering.
Fylde Council’s Regeneration Department has appointed Kirkham-based DC & MG Associates and North West Design Collective of Preston, in partnership with Blackpool-based Joseph Boniface Architects, to work with property owners and bring the plans to life.
The Shop Front Improvement Scheme is a key part of the £10m Kirkham Futures regeneration masterplan which aims to breathe new life into the historic town centre by restoring high street buildings and improving the public realm.
It is hoped the refurbished shopfronts, and removal of any unsightly building alterations, will brighten the high street and create a look and feel more in-keeping with Kirkham’s historic market town status.
The collaboration of architects are now working with shop owners and tenants whose buildings are situated within Kirkham’s central Conservation Area, which covers parts of Poulton Street, Church Street, Preston Street and Freckleton Street.
DC & MG Associates have previously worked on several conservation projects in their hometown including the restoration of the Pugin-designed Willows Church and the rebuilding of St Michael’s Church’s famous spire.
Mick Goode, director at DC & MG Associates, said: “Being selected to work on this exciting scheme in our hometown means a great deal to us. As architects we are very keen to see how we can help assist the meaningful regeneration Kirkham’s businesses and local community deserves.
“This huge opportunity given by the HS HAZ investment can be the next step in making Kirkham a thriving place to live, work and visit.”
The project was originally restricted to properties within the Conservation Area. Now, thanks to the approval of a further £6.3m in funding through the Government’s Future High Street Fund the scheme is being rolled out to include businesses across the town centre.
NWDC, a Conservation Accredited Architectural Practice, which specialises in working on listed buildings and historical properties, has been selected to work on the project alongside Joseph Boniface Architects.
Hill Cowgill, Conservation Architect and Director at NWDC, said: “There are grants available to cover up to 90% of the restoration and upgrading frontage works so this is a fantastic opportunity for the business community of Kirkham.
“Joseph Boniface Architects and NWDC have worked together in the past on the Blackpool Quality Corridor scheme – a £7.8m project to make streets more welcoming and shops in the resort more vibrant.
“We are delighted to be part of this energetic and exciting design team. We are really looking forward to meeting with the residents and business community of Kirkham.”
A series of conceptual designs and artist impressions have been created to show how premises on Poulton Street, Preston Street and Freckleton Street could look as part of the scheme. Designers were assisted by many historic images of Kirkham town centre and its shops, dating from Victorian and Edwardian time.
Fylde Council nominated representative for the project, Coun Liz Oades said: “I am absolutely delighted to see so many businesses taking up the opportunity to restore shop fronts to their former glory. I look forward to seeing Kirkham's town centre flourish in the near future, when the public realm works, as well as the restoration scheme, is complete."
Historic England’s Tamsin Cooke said: “The appointment of architects to help shape the restoration work on Kirkham’s historic high street is an important step forward in delivering the planned improvements for the town. We’re eagerly anticipating the results of this work and the benefits for local residents, businesses and visitors alike.”
The Kirkham Futures masterplan has been labelled a “once in a generation opportunity” to transform the historic Fylde market town. FHSF and HS HAZ funding will enable the purchase and redevelopment of several key properties – together with a range of improvements to public spaces.
The four-year plan, led by Fylde Council’s Regeneration Department, in partnership with Lancashire County Council and Kirkham Town Council, also includes: developing a new Heritage and Eco Skills Centre in the former Hillside restaurant; creation of an Arts Centre and Community Cinema in the former TSB building; the purchase of the Kirkgate Centre allowing for the development of key empty shop units and the creation of new affordable town centre housing; the enhancement of public realm and outdoor spaces; encouraging businesses to relocate/set up in the town centre; evelopment of new restaurants and creation of a thriving and diverse night-time economy and the creation of a wide range of cultural and leisure activities.
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