Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

St Austell’s important historic buildings and public areas will be rejuvenated following the announcement that Cornwall Council has been awarded £900,000 of National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The restoration scheme will focus on St Austell town centre. Cornwall Council has prioritised 53 historic buildings needing restoration in St Austell’s Conservation Area and will work with the local property owners of local businesses to bring the buildings back to life.

Cornwall Council worked with St Austell Town Council, BID and Chamber of Commerce to identify buildings and encourage local property owners to come on board.Cornwall Council, St Austell Town Council and the BID has contributed an additional £80,000 to fund the scheme.

Made possible by National Lottery players, the funding comes from HLF’s Townscape Heritage programme which aims to help communities regenerate towns and cities across the UK by improving their built historic environment.

The submission was put forward by Cornwall Council as by working with St Austell Town Council it was recognised that St Austell had empty and underused properties that could be renovated and brought back into use. Investing in St Austell is expected to provide a significant boost to the local economy and improve the town for residents, businesses and visitors.

With funding from property owners, Cornwall Council, St Austell Town Council and the St Austell BID it is hoped to generate almost £1.4 million investment in the town centre.The funding will pay for high quality traditional repairs and reinstate shopfronts, signs and missing architectural detail in St Austell’s Conservation Area helping to protect the historic details of buildings.

The scheme will focus on the town centre, in particular historic buildings in Fore Street, Market Street, Church Street Duke Street, Trevarthian Road and High Cross Street.Over the past three years and as part of the submission Cornwall Council has been working with Cornwall College, Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust and local volunteers to undertake buildings survey work and develop a traditional and sustainable skills training programme.

The skills training programme will provide training for local architects,surveyors, contractors and college students in both traditional and new sustainable building techniques, leading to employment opportunities for local people.

The Eden Project have been also been part of the project to work up the scheme, and skills training programmes which start from spring 2018.

Work has also been undertaken to produce a Shopfront Design Guide to improve reinstated shopfronts and signs in the conservation area. Shop owners, designers and contractors and those involved in planning, for whom the final guide is intended for, were invited were encouraged to comment on the draft version of the guide over the summer.

Feedback was incorporated to the final version of the Shopfront Guide and included additional information on making shops accessible for all and choice of building materials. When put in to practice the Shopfront Guide will help protect the town’s historic character.

Cllr Bob Egerton, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for Planning said: “This is very good news for St Austell’s town centre. We need to maintain St Austell’s rich history as it will help increase people’s pride in where they work and live. Upskilling the local workforce in traditional skills will both create jobs and prevent these important skills being lost.”

Cllr Sandra Heyward, local Cornwall Councillor for St Austell Gover added: “This award is a significant boost for the local community and I encourage local contractors and students to get involved in this scheme if the opportunity arises. The scheme will help ensure that we protect our historic centre for the future and I look forward to seeing some of St Austell’s historical buildings and areas being improved over the next few years.”

MP Steve Double for St Austell and Newquay added: “We have a rich history and heritage in St Austell town centre and it needs to be preserved for future generations. The devil is in the detail and I look forward to working with all involved to ensure this money is spent in bringing about positive improvements to our historic town.”

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “National Lottery funding is transforming historic town centres across the UK by boosting local economies, creating vital employment and training opportunities and enhancing public places for residents and visitors. Thanks to National Lottery players we’re delighted to support this project which is set to bring residents, visitors and businesses together to create a bright future for St Austell.”

The Council’s Strategic Historic Environment team have developed further detailed plans so work is progressing and will take four years to complete.