THE significant progress being made in this, the fourth year of the City of Brechin Townscape Heritage Initiative, is being outlined to members of Angus Council’s infrastructure services committee this week (writes Alan Ducat).
The £2,900,000 five-year programme of heritage led regeneration (2008-2013) funded by Angus Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland.
The THI aims to regenerate the centre of Brechin by undertaking a number of physical projects and by engaging with the local community.
There are a number of “Priority Projects” based upon reusing/repairing prominent historic buildings and finding sustainable uses for them.
There is a budget for “multiple project” grants for undertaking repairs and bringing vacant buildings back into use, which is based upon selection criteria to ensure maximum value for money.
There are also sums for public realm projects, training in traditional building skills and community engagement initiatives.
According to a report going before Angus infrastructure services committee on Tuesday (yesterday), significant progress has been made with all of the High Street priority projects.
The Town House Museum priority project was reopened to the public in August 2010.
The grant of £218,438 assisted with the restoration and conversion of the first floor of two buildings, effectively more than doubling the area available for exhibitions.
Between July 2010 and June 2011 grant applications totalling £1.005 million were awarded to the owners of the following priority projects:- 33 High Street, building repairs grant of £67,111; 39 - 41 High Street, building repairs grant of £73,916; 29 - 33 High Street, vacant historic floorspace grant of £335,213; Merchant’s House, 68-74, High Street , vacant historic floorspace grant of £528,785 .
“All of these projects are currently on site, with the two building repair projects nearing completion, and the other two major projects making good progress,” explains infrastructure services committee director Eric Lowson in his report.
“ In respect of 45 - 47 High Street, the property was purchased by the council in 2010 as part of the Town Centre Regeneration Fund project with restoration of the vacant historic floorspace to be funded through the THI.
“Listed building consent is now in place for the repair and refurbishment works to this building and further approval has been sought from the Heritage Lottery Fund.”
Restoration works to the building, known locally as the Merchant’s House, at 68-72 High Street, began in February 2011.
The building was acquired by Kit Martin (Historic Houses Rescue) Limited in January 2011 and the property will be converted into two quality townhouses for let.
The East Church priority project continues to be marketed for sale but, without a viable end user, this building has been withdrawn from the identified grant eligible projects, and grant funding has been re-allocated.
Mr Lowson goes on to explain that interest in the grants scheme has been good and, whilst not identified as priority projects, several larger projects, many of which are key listed buildings within the centre of Brechin, have been awarded significant levels of grant assistance.
Between June 2010 and June 2011 grants totalling £414,138 have been awarded to a total of 15 owners.
These projects have ranged from general building repair items to the restoration of historic vacant floorspace.
The majority of the projects are currently on site, or are due to go on site in the next two months.
Mr Lowson goes on to explain that the full report on the community archaeological dig in the Bishops Close area is nearing completion (see separate story).
The director added that the extent of the scaffolding on the High Street has caused some concern although many of the projects are nearing completion.
“The poor condition, and scale of the buildings has meant that the scaffolding has been an unavoidable factor, particularly given the types of works that have been carried out.”
Mr Lowson concluded by saying that regular updates on the progress of the Townscape Heritage Initiative have continued to be given to the Brechin Community Area Partnership, the local press as well as on a dedicated webpage (http://www.angus.gov.uk/brechinthi).
“Regular meetings have been held with the funding partners, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland.
“Both funding partners have continued to express their satisfaction with the progress of the THI and key milestones for grant expenditure have been successfully met.
“The Project Support Group and Partnership Executive continue to meet on a regular basis and their input and ongoing dedication is commended to the committee.”