The Heritage Action Zone is a five year programme, working with the local community in Appleby to use the power of Appleby’s heritage to boost the local economy. The overall investment over five years is estimated to be £1,650,000. Here is the latest news from Heritage Zone Officer, Adrian Banford.
October and November has seen some progress on a number of fronts. We have the agreement of Historic England that we can go ahead and appoint conservation architects, through the council procurement procedure, to spend a few months reviewing the state of properties in Boroughgate, the Wiends, Bridge Street and a few beyond.
Those needing work will have cost estimates and grant will be made available to do renovation works over the next three years. The grant rate is likely to be 50% of the cost and it is predicted it will become available from April 2018 when the surveys are complete. The grant will not be for routine maintenance work or ‘cosmetics’ and commercial properties will have priority over domestic premises to best meet the economic growth priorities of the HAZ.
We have issued a tender document to procure a contractor to finally restore the railings between the churchyard and the riverside path. This project has undergone a lot of changes, but now should offer a long term fix, designed to be flood resilient, we will see. A project has also started on Chapel Street, in the cottage adjoining the Blackett-Ord’s offices. Chris Morphett and his colleagues are renovating it with traditional materials and techniques. Some of these are being modified slightly with modern know how to try and make the place flood resilient and easier to heat and maintain. Historic England’s national research team have set up a monitoring programme in collaboration with Cumbria Action for Sustainability to record the effects and produce training material for builders for the future. The hope is of course, that it will never be flooded, the reality might be otherwise and there will be useful lessons to learn in any case.
Finally we have an offer of grant from Historic England and Eden District Council to employ someone to look into the issues surrounding the maintenance and up keep of the Moot Hall. 1596 is a long time ago now, when the main part of the building was first constructed. The world has changed drastically, we know more about materials, about techniques and rainfall patterns have changed. We have a once in a generation chance, with the HAZ, to see if it is possible to do a major overhall. We need to explore what might be possible in terms of making the space work better for tourists and for the Town Council who use much of it, to make it easier and cheaper to run and to tackle some long term deterioration. This process will take a few months, but it is vital to know the costs implications, where funding can come from and to retain the distinctive character and special function of the place. There are few Moot Halls left in Britain, fewer that have continuously hosted the council - a Moot (meeting) Hall’s original purpose.
I have found, in my first three months, that Appleby’s Heritage is diverse, that there are a lot of people who are passionate about it. I will continue to try and bring resources into the town to help conserve the place for the future generations to enjoy.