Halton Borough Council has acquired and is set to repurpose 65 High Street, Runcorn as it progresses plans for a Creative and Digital Skills Centre as part of the £23.6m Reconnecting Runcorn Town Deal.
The former Gas Store was becoming vacant, with the business relocating to a light industrial unit, as more customers opted to use online, rather than traditional showrooms.
The Council acquired the property – one of the ‘Camden buildings’ – that dominate the appearance of the High Street.
65 High Street is one of several plans the Council is developing to restore the historic properties which it hopes will see the High Street at the heart of our community again.
In Runcorn, the Council is taking a similar approach to the High Street Heritage Action Zones, as promoted by Historic England.
Already underway and progressing well, is the restoration of the Georgian property 71 High Street, which Hazlehurst Arts Collective will occupy along with 10 additional artist studios later this year. 71 High Street is one of only a few listed buildings in the town centre.
While the Camden buildings are not listed buildings, many consider these locally important historic properties. The Council is aiming to retain the properties and bring them back into use by establishing a cluster of voluntary and community organisations in the creative and digital sector.
Repurposing the Camden buildings is technically challenging, as not all buildings in the block of six are in the ownership of the Council, and the condition of some of the buildings is poor.
However, the Reconnecting Runcorn plans would see one of the properties transformed into a stunning ‘winter garden’ that would bring the feeling of being outdoors, indoors. The space would be used as a lobby and as an indoor venue for small cultural events. The Council based the idea on the Granby Street Winter Garden in Liverpool.
Commenting on the latest announcement, Councillor Dave Thompson, Deputy Leader of Halton Borough Council said: “Runcorn has a historic old town centre. Town Deal funding is helping us to invest in the High Street and restore the historic frontage of the Camden buildings on the High Street. Bringing this historic block of Victorian property back into use will benefit the local community.”
About the Towns Fund – Town Deals
On 27 July 2019, the Prime Minister announced that the Towns Fund would support an initial 101 places across England to develop Town Deal proposals, to drive economic regeneration and deliver long-term economic and productivity growth.
A Town Deal is an agreement in principle between government, the Lead Council and the Town Deal Board. It will set out a vision and strategy for the town, and what each party agrees to do to achieve this vision.
See the 101 places being supported to develop Town Deals.
About Northern Powerhouse
Some Northern Powerhouse key facts:
- The Northern Powerhouse is a key aspect of this Government’s approach to addressing the productivity gap in the North and ensuring a stronger, more sustainable economy for all parts of the UK.
- The government has awarded £3.4bn in three rounds of Growth Deals across the Northern Powerhouse.