Theatres in Wigan, Leeds and Lancaster are among the cultural buildings that could benefit from millions of pounds of regeneration funding from the government, as part of a scheme aimed at revitalising England’s high streets.
Overseen by Historic England, the £95-million pot will be shared between 69 high streets and is intended to “breathe new life into historic buildings” in towns and cities across the country.
Focusing on empty and underused buildings, the funding will go towards turning them into creative spaces, shops, houses and community centres.
Areas that have successfully bid include Wigan, which wants to use the money in part to restore the town’s Royal Court Theatre.
The theatre was bought last year by a local arts organisation pledging to bring it back into use for the first time in 40 years and make it an epicentre of culture for the town.
Elsewhere, Leeds’ New Briggate area, home to Leeds Grand Theatre, has been successful in bidding for money – up to £1.3 million – which will be match-funded by the council and will repair the historic buildings on the street and bring empty floor space back to use.
The plans also include contributing to the £18 million capital project at Opera North, which is based at the Leeds Grand.
Other winning areas include Lancaster, which submitted a bid including foyer renovations at the Grand Theatre, and Burnley, which bid for funding to create a new cultural quarter for the town.
Overall, the North West will receive an allocation of £18.7 million, the second largest region after the Midlands, which has been granted £21.1 million.
Final grants for individual areas will be confirmed in January 2020.
Announcing the funding – which has come from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the National Lottery Heritage Fund – Historic England’s chief executive Duncan Wilson said: “Through physical improvements and cultural activities, we will work with partners to find new ways to regenerate our high streets.
“It is a challenge, but with our experience and track record, as well as the knowledge and passion of local councils, businesses and community groups our historic high streets can be thriving social hubs once more.”