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Redruth chosen to benefit from Heritage High Street Fund worth £4.6 million

Redruth is to receive a share of the £95m High Streets Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ) fund, one of only 10 places in the South West to benefit from this national scheme. It follows a bid submitted by Cornwall Council in partnership with the Redruth High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) Project Board.

The grant of £1,689,063, awarded by Historic England, will attract a further £3m of investment from the private and public sectors. Commitment already secured will see:

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  • Derelict and underused buildings in the town centre revitalised
  • Public realm and access improvements
  • A programme of events and activities focused on and led by young people
  • The launch of Alma Place by Redruth Town Council as a library and gateway to the town for residents, businesses and visitors

Redruth’s rich legacy of buildings from the mining boom is now suffering significant deterioration after decades of economic decline. It was for centuries one of the greatest market towns in Cornwall, with metal ore extraction a key factor in Redruth’s economy from at least the 13th century. During the 18th and 19th centuries the town became the administrative and financial centre of hard rock mining in western Cornwall, making it probably the most significant town within the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. The scale of mining required a rapid expansion in workforce and supporting infrastructure, such as extensive terraced housing, public buildings, chapels, shops, roads, tramways and railways.

In 2011 the town launched the Redruth Action Plan Project with the aim of ‘bringing the heart back into Redruth town centre’ through a focused programme of intervention and valuing of the town’s heritage assets and World Heritage Site status.

In 2015, Cornwall Council secured £11.7m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to transform the derelict historic Redruth Brewery building into an extraordinary archive and library space, bringing together the world’s largest collection of manuscripts, books and documents relating to Cornwall. Kresen Kernow opened its doors in September 2019 to much acclaim and building on this momentum, and the growth of Krowji on the edge of the town centre into Cornwall’s largest creative industry cluster, the decision to put Redruth forward for the Heritage High Street Fund was taken by Cornwall Council.

The aim of the investment is to be a catalyst for improving the prosperity of the town centre so that it can continue to serve the local community and businesses, adapting to the challenges that all high streets were experiencing, even before Covid-19.

Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, Chair of Redruth HSHAZ Project Board: “I am delighted to hear that Cornwall Council’s bid to the High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme for Redruth has been successful and that this will help Redruth to build on both its exceptional historic townscape and the success of recent investment in creating Kresen Kernow on the former Redruth brewery site.

“As a former member of the Town Vitality Inquiry at Cornwall Council, which sought to find ways the council could work with Cornish towns to make them fit for the 21st century, it has become increasingly apparent that we need to look at assets other than retail in order to promote and support our town centres. I feel that Redruth, with its ambitious and committed Town Council, Cornwall Councillors, local businesses and local residents, who already do so much to promote it, has a very real opportunity now to act as a template for other towns to follow, building on their own distinctiveness. Redruth HSHAZ will give both employment and hope in a town that wants to be great again.”

Rob Nolan, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, said: “Redruth has been described as the capital of the greatest of all Cornwall’s mining areas, important in the 19th century for its marketing, financial, managerial and institutional roles. It is rightly part of the UNESCO inscribed Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site in recognition of the town’s importance as a centre of the mining industry globally. The town centre is astonishingly rich in its wealth of historic buildings, but as with many of our towns in Cornwall, the high street has suffered from people’s changing shopping and leisure habits, as well as years of austerity. Even with all the efforts of the local businesses and the town council, a number of the buildings are in need of conservation, refurbishment and repurposing if they are to contribute to the economic prosperity and community life of the town."

Of particular note is the Mining Exchange and the adjacent office of the Purser of Wheal Peevor which, with the former Buttermarket, will be redeveloped by Redruth Revival CIC with funding from this scheme, offering vibrant communal office and workspaces to new and existing businesses. It will be a showcase for some of the vibrant creative community who need a shop window in the town centre. Redruth recognises that a revitalised town centre, imbued with a character and identity shaped over the centuries, but carefully designed to meet the needs of today’s resident population and visitor economy, is essential to creating and sustaining local jobs and services.

Tim Dwelly, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Culture, Economy and Planning, said : “The timing of this announcement couldn’t be better as shops begin to reopen after lockdown. The impact of Covid-19 exacerbates the many years of decline that our high streets have felt, hence the focus that Cornwall Council has given recently, undertaking a Town Vitality Inquiry and launching a new fund for town centre regeneration that will build on such schemes.

“The repurposing of the London Inn to provide retail accommodation at street level and residential accommodation above and behind aligns with the recommendations of the Inquiry and the Grimsby Report, recognising that high streets will have to broaden their functionality and reduce dependency on the national chains. Instead they should provide a range of accommodation and opportunities for traders and businesses, and means of access into the market place for young entrepreneurs. I am heartened to see that young people will be at the heart of rediscovering Redruth’s remarkable heritage and shaping the future of its high street, so that it continues to meet the needs of local people and businesses, and is a welcoming and vibrant place for one and all."

Historic England is working with local people and partners through grant funding and sharing our skills to help breathe new life into high streets that are rich in heritage and full of promise - unlocking their potential and making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors. The High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme, backed by government funding, aims to help with the recovery of local high streets from regenerating historic buildings to helping to engage local communities through art and cultural projects.