Shropshire Star

Multi million pound project set to transform town centre near south Shropshire

More than £3 million is being poured into a town centre in a bid to transform buildings, restoring local historic character, and improve public spaces.

Picture: Herefordshire Council

This major investment in Leominster, close to the south Shropshire border, until March 2024 will see street scene improvements in the High Street, Corn Square and the wider conservation area.

Work to restore heritage features is underway on properties, and refurbishment plans for public spaces are being progressed following recent consultation on what residents, businesses and visitors would most like to see.

The improvements are thanks to the Leominster High Street Heritage Action Zone funding – a multi-million pound regeneration initiative supported by Historic England, delivered through Herefordshire Council and Leominster Town Council.

HSHAZ is a multi-million pound regeneration initiative supported by Historic England, delivered through Herefordshire Council and Leominster Town Council – with £1.3m from Historic England, match funded with £1.8m from Herefordshire Council and a further match contribution from Leominster Town Council. Property owners also provide a percentage contribution towards grant funded renovation.

Work is already underway on three properties that have received grant funding towards the restoration of the building structure and facades to reflect the original detail and character, with a fourth currently being considered. Improvements to these properties will contribute towards restoring the distinctive and unique historic character of Leominster, enhancing the town for retailers and visitors.

Parry’s, a traditional style fruit and veg shop in Leominster High Street is receiving a facelift with the replacement of cast iron guttering and timber facias and soffits, and window repair.

The Rankin Club in Corn Square is currently covered in scaffolding while work is underway to replace the roof and repairs are made to the sash windows, chimneys and the stucco façade. During initial work some older window openings have been found, which will now be reinstated.

Both 26 and 26a Broad Street will see their external features transformed with the reinstatement of carved stone mouldings, repairs to the pediment to retain lost detailing and works to the stone decorative cornice and associated parapet. The project will also include chimney and window repairs.

Improvement plans are being developed to make public spaces in Leominster town centre more attractive, cleaner and safer for residents and visitors.

The plans follow a consultation where 89 per cent of respondents said they think Leominster needs investment.

The proposals include:

Improving road and pavement surfaces in High Street, Corn Street, Victoria Street and Corn Square

Considering ways to prioritise pedestrians over cars such as reducing the number of vehicles, reducing vehicle speed and improving safety

Reviewing parking arrangements to better support pedestrian use in Corn Square while providing additional spaces elsewhere in the town

More detailed proposals are set to be shared with the public within the next few weeks, when there will be further consultation before developing final plans.

Councillor Ellie Chowns, Herefordshire Council’s Cabinet member for environment and economy, said: “We’re fortunate to have so many buildings of importance in Leominster town centre, and have been in conversation with a number of local business owners and residents regarding a range of projects. The funding will only cover a very small proportion of these, however those chosen have real heritage value. It’s exciting to see how these building renovations, as well public space enhancements that make pedestrians the priority, will impact on the look and feel of the town.

Councillor Trish Marsh, Leominster Mayor, said: “We are an enterprising town to be proud of. This funding gives us a chance to up our game and continue to welcome people from near and far to Leominster. The aim is to provide a street environment to complement our historic buildings, which are home to many independent shops and eateries. We seek to provide a town where people want to linger and meet, and an environment that encourages us all to explore our local businesses. Our markets will make good use of an improved layout in Corn Square and there will be more space for other events to take place.”

Deborah Williams, Historic England’s head of region for the midlands, said: “It’s great to see the plans for the work in Leominster taking shape as part of its heritage led regeneration. The works will help to give the public spaces a new lease of life, support local businesses and provide a destination for visitors. I am delighted to see the Leominster High Street Heritage Action Zone now having a real effect on the ground, in this and other projects, and helping the town to move forward.”

The programme is being led by a steering group chaired by the Mayor of Leominster Councillor Trish Marsh, and representatives from Leominster Town Council, Herefordshire Council, Historic England, and local business and community groups.

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