Oswestry aims for slice of heritage funding
Oswestry could be given a facelift after getting through to the next stage of bidding to be named as a Heritage Action Zone.
The town has won the first round in its submission to Historic England to be named an action zone, a national project to 'breath new life into old places'.
The proposal has moved to the second stage and members of Oswestry Town and Shropshire Council have now been invited to meet with the national body.
There are hopes that if the bid is successful it could lead to grants to improve some of its town centre buildings.
Oswestry town council has been campaigning for several years for the owners of empty shops, particularly in Cross Street, to improve the buildings and market them. Earlier this year the council invited members of the unitary authority to see the problems for themselves which led to the Heritage Action Zone bid.
In a report to the town council's meeting on Wednesday, town clerk David Preston, said the proposal aimed to make the Oswestry Conservation Area the principle focus of the zone.
"It would look at ways in which the economic vitality of the historic town centre could be promoted, encouraging more people to shop and visit.
"This could not only build on the strategic work currently underway for Oswestry Public Realm but could also feature an area-based grant scheme to provide support to owners and proprietors to improve their buildings."
The Heritage Action Zones were launched by Historic England last year.
Since then towns including Sunderland, Coventry and Hull have been transformed.
In the north east the 'Historic High Streets at Risk' Heritage Action Zone aims to bring Sunderland's high street heritage back to life.
One town that, like Oswestry, has a rich railway history, is Elscar near Barnsley which is using its action zone to attract more visitors.
In Sutton the aim of the zone is to protect the town centre as new homes are built on the periphery. In Oswestry there are plans for about 600 new homes to be build on the edge of its bypass.
Mr Preston said: "The main aim of the initiative is to use the heritage of an area or place as means of securing economic regeneration."
He said he hoped that if successful the zone could attract partnership funding.