Work set to start on town heritage restoration

Wednesday 19th August 2015 1:16 pm
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A PROJECT to restore the historic core of Tavistock is well underway and promises to breathe life back into some of the town’s key buildings.

The Tavistock Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) project will see Tavistock and the wider community served by the market town enjoying the benefits of high quality repairs and the conservation of significant buildings.

The repair works are being partly funded through a grant of almost £1-million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which is being matched by an equal amount from businesses and local authorities, providing an overall boost of £2-million for the local economy.

John Taylor, chairman of Tavistock Heritage, said the success of the project would secure Tavistock’s place on the ‘world’s stage’.

‘This investment by the Heritage Lottery Fund in the historic centre of Tavistock will boost the local economy which together with the proposed World Heritage Site Gateway Centre in the Guildhall, will make Tavistock an important tourist destination on the world’s stage.’

THI focuses on improving the fabric of historic buildings by making them water-tight and enhancing their appearance through repairing external works including windows, walls, and architectural details.

Areas in town selected for public realm improvements include the pannier market surround, Guildhall Car Park and Market Street. Critical buildings selected for repair include 1 Church Lane, Butcher’s Hall (formerly the auction rooms) and re-roofing the pannier market. Various surveys are currently taking place and work should hopefully start within six months.

The HLF funding is the culmination of seven years’ work by the partnership of local councils, businesses and community groups, co-ordinated by the Tavistock Heritage with the town council as the accountable body.

The money has been allocated from the HLF’s own Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) programme, which helps communities improve the built historic environment to stimulate economic regeneration for the benefit of local residents, workers and visitors.

Recently appointed project manager for Tavistock’s THI, Katharine West, a qualified chartered surveyor and a former pupil at Whitchurch and Tavistock, is carrying the programme forward and said she was excited about the project and what it will do to benefit the town.

‘People come to Tavistock to look at the buildings, as they are what draws people to the town, but if the buildings look tired we lose the visitors which will have a negative impact on the economy,’ said Katharine.

‘I’m keen to ensure that the HLF funding is used effectively, to enable Tavistock to maximise the wider regeneration benefits that such significant funding can bring.

‘Heritage buildings are expensive to repair, which is why HLF will subsidise this programme.

‘Those selected were agreed in the HLF bidding process for the grant. The buildings selected were chosen for their prominence and impact on the town, the condition, willingness of owner and their age and heritage value.

‘Another part of the THI project is to widen the understanding of Tavistock’s heritage and its story.

‘This is a five-year project and if the scheme is successful, then the partnership could apply for another round.’

Carl Hearn, Tavistock town clerk, said: ‘This town council-led programme to revitalise the historic core of the town by supporting economic regeneration and our unique built environment, demonstrates what can be achieved through a strong local partnership between the public, private and community sectors working together in the interests of Tavistock.’

l Buildings that are not normally open and accessible to the public are being opened by Tavistock Heritage for public viewing for a few select days between September 11 and 13. Visit www.andrewthompsonheritage.co.uk for more information.

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