Stockport’s Underbanks Conservation Area is one of ten areas that will be transformed as part of the National Lottery’s investment to help revitalise conservation areas across the UK that are in vital need of
The area has been promised just over £1.8m to help transform its historic high street into a vibrant destination that attract new visitors to the area.
The Underbanks “Old Town” area of Stockport has been struggling for some years, its rich and varied history goes back to 1260. In recent years it has been championed as a location for independent businesses.
Fifty years on from the designation of the first conservation areas, the money will help to reverse years of decline by repairing buildings and creating attractive, vibrant places that people want to live, work, visit and invest in.
The first conservation area to be designated was Stamford in Lincolnshire. Its 600 listed buildings provide outlets for a large range of independent shops and businesses and it is still a thriving and economically vibrant town and a big draw for tourists. However, others have not fared so well, particularly in areas of social and economic deprivation.
The award comes following a successful first round bid by Stockport Council and Stockport Heritage Trust to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Townscape Heritage programme. Today’s announcement means that Stockport Council has been awarded a first round pass providing funding towards the further development of the ‘Rediscover the Underbanks’ project. This gives the green light to develop the project over the coming year.
Stockport Council’s Executive Member for Economy and Regeneration, Councillor Kate Butler said: “This £1.8m award is big news for the Underbanks and I’m incredibly proud of our success in what was an extremely competitive bidding process. We have so much to be proud of in Stockport with a wealth of fascinating history, heritage and culture to explore. These are exciting times for us and this further investment will perfectly complement the Council’s commitment to regeneration across the town centre.”
Coral Dranfield from Stockport Heritage Trust commented: “Stockport Heritage Trust feels excited that the importance of the Underbanks has been recognised with the award of this National Lottery grant and that, after regeneration, it will emerge again as a ‘place to go and enjoy a unique experience’. Rediscovering the Underbanks is already underway with guided walks, a new booklet and basing 2017 Heritage Open Days around discovering the history of the Underbanks.”
Nathan Lee, Head of HLF North West, said: “We’ve been investing money raised through the National Lottery in the UK’s historic conservation areas for more than 20 years and we’ve seen first-hand the incredible difference it has made to local communities. This project in particular has the potential to have a powerful effect not only on local pride but also on local economic prosperity in Stockport.”
Over the coming months the Council will be working with partners and businesses to develop the project proposals. Residents and businesses will be invited to provide their ideas during this process. Further details about how to do this will be published as soon as the engagement process begins.