Plans to repair, restore and regenerate the buildings in the historic market town of Gainsborough are underway – thanks to West Lindsey District Council’s Townscape Heritage scheme.
The scheme aims to reverse the decline of the town by offering substantial grants towards the costs to renovate the buildings, bringing empty properties back into use and maximising the potential for them to be used today. It is backed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Levelling Up Programme to help create a Thriving Gainsborough.
The first property which has been awarded grant funding from the Townscape Heritage Scheme is 27-29 Lord Street. The property is currently empty. It had solely residential use up to 1910, when shop fronts were installed on the ground floor. The property has stood witness to many changes in Gainsborough’s economic fortunes.
Thanks to the combined grant funding, the frontage of the building will benefit from a range of interventions to reinstate the historical features. This includes: structural repairs, overhauling brickwork and pointing, repairs to wooden sash windows, reinstatement of the two shopfronts and much more.
The property owner, Andy Hurley, has already invested in the town at 25 Lord Street, which he has successfully transformed. After receiving planning permission to convert the property, it now houses three independent local businesses all of which draw unique new visitors into the town.
Mr Hurley purchased the block of properties prior to COVID-19. He said: “Our intention is to renovate the derelict properties and give them a new purpose so that they could contribute to the area.
“With the help now available from the National Lottery’s [Townscape Heritage Initiative] funding and the Levelling-Up funding, it means we are able to accelerate the work at the neighbouring property, 27 – 29 Lord Street, and also complete it to an excellent standard. This will improve the street scene and in turn help neighbouring businesses, as the properties have been derelict for many years and have a negative impact on the town centre.”
Mr Hurley has urged other property owners to look into the scheme as help is available to transform selected properties across Gainsborough Town Centre. He added: “The process is easy and I would encourage others to take up this fantastic opportunity, it really will make a difference to Gainsborough.”
The substantial investment in historic buildings and associated community engagement activities seeks to improve the historic value and appearance of properties within targeted parts of the Town Centre Conservation Area of Gainsborough.
Chair of the Leisure, Culture, Events & Tourism Group at West Lindsey District Council, Councillor Paul Howitt-Cowan, welcomed the news of the first grant allocations. He said: “Restoring the Historic Heart of Gainsborough is part of [West Lindsey District Council]’s wider Invest Gainsborough vision to increase footfall to the area, build a sense of place and restore buildings back to their attractive historic look.
“It also encourages local communities to find out more about the town’s heritage. I am delighted to see the plans for the [Townscape Heritage Initiative] are progressing and I cannot wait to see the finished buildings once they are complete.”
Jonathan Lee, experienced Townscape Heritage Officer at the Council, is leading on the project. He is calling on all property owners in the designated area to come forward and find out more about the scheme. He said: “The Townscape Heritage Team is thrilled that the scheme is off to a great start. We hope that this news will encourage other property owners in the town centre to come forward and join in with the initiative to help our ‘Thriving Gainsborough 2024’.
“The building at 27-29 Lord Street is full of character. It was used as the residence of the collector of market tolls in 1861 and 1871. Therefore, we really look forward to restoring it to its former glory, including the residential function.”
Image shows: Left to right – Matthew Snee and Katherine Stanley, of West Lindsey District Council, and Andy Hurley owner of 27-29 Lord Street.