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£700,000 to 'bring Oswestry high street to life'

By Dominic Robertson | Oswestry | Coronavirus | Published:

A Shropshire town will receive £700,000 to help bring empty buildings back into use, as well as improving historic shop fronts and heritage features.

The money will be used to bring empty buildings in the town back into use

The money for Oswestry comes after the town was successful in its bid to Historic England to become a Heritage Streets Actions Zone (HSHAZ), and will be part of a total budget of £1.25 million, with £500k coming from Oswestry Town Council.

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for assets, economic growth and regeneration, said the money would help "to bring the town’s high street to life."

The bid for the money was made by Shropshire Council, in partnership with the Future Oswestry Group, which includes Oswestry Town Council and Oswestry Business Improvement District (BID).

The funding will be used to repair key buildings, look at converting empty buildings with a mixture of uses, including workspace, retail and restaurants on the ground floor, with residential units above.

There will also be permanent enhancements to the historic environment including key shop fronts and a residential conversions programme for the upper floors of shop units to provide a number of new homes within the town.

Shropshire council said that together with measures from the Future Oswestry Group, such as temporary traffic orders to assist social distancing, the project will aid the town’s economic recovery as lockdown is eased.

Councillor Charmley said: "Building on the work of the Future Oswestry Group, the HSHAZ funding provides an exciting opportunity to tackle and address some of the heritage issues and empty properties within the conservation area of the town. Through a strong place-based approach to management of the high street, we will be working with key partners to deliver this vision and to bring the town’s high street to life.

"This is an exciting time for Oswestry, and the HSHAZ funding will give us the ability to push on with some of the projects that had already been started through the Future Oswestry Group. This collaboration between Shropshire Council, Oswestry Town Council and the BID is key to the success of ensuring that we maximise on the impact of the funding.”

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As part of the project there will also be a separate £50,000 that the town’s community-based heritage and arts groups can use to develop projects.

Work will begin on the master plan and movement strategy including consultation activities – subject to Covid-19 restrictions – over the coming weeks.

The Mayor of Oswestry, Councillor Duncan Kerr, said: "This announcement is excellent news. Tackling empty properties has been a priority for local people and this investment will help to rejuvenate the town centre, protect the town’s heritage characteristics and make it a place where people want to spend time.

"This investment from Historic England together with the town councils contribution will make a difference.

"We are very much looking forward to working with Shropshire Council and partners to deliver.”

Adele Nightingale, Oswestry BID manager, said: “Oswestry is town with a proud history and a bright future. This funding will allow us to make the best of our heritage whilst improving the look and feel of the town for workers, residents and visitors. It will also encourage continued development and business investment in the town.”

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