Agenda item

Swaffham High Streets Heritage Action Zone Grant (Agenda item 9)

Report of Councillor Mark Robinson, Executive Member for Community, Leisure & Culture.


Councillor Robinson, the Executive Member for Community, Leisure & Culture presented the report.


The report asked Members to consider and accept the grant of £380,000 from Historic England as partnership funding to support the Swaffham High Streets Heritage Action Zone over a four-year period 2020-2024.


Councillor Robinson was pleased to bring this item forward as the Council continued to support its five market towns.  He reminded Members that in 2019,  Historic England launched the High Streets Heritage Action Zone Programme (HSHAZ) through funding from the Government’s ‘Towns Funds’, providing £45m for prospective bids in England to unlock the potential in its High streets.  The programmes objectives were explained. Swaffham with its rich history had been considered as a potential HSHAZ location with its iconic Buttercross that formed a central focus to the Market Place that had been gifted to the town by George Walpole in 1783 as well as the many other listed buildings within the heritage Action Zone area.


An Expression of Interest was submitted to Historic England in July 2019 and following approval Breckland Council was required to submit a Programme Design Plan (attached at Appendix 1 to the report).  Following a three-month national assessment period, Breckland Council was provided with approved funds of £380,000 as part of a total programme cost of £697,900 to deliver the HSHAZ over a four-year period from 2020-2024.


The Programme Design Plan identified the actions to be financed through the scheme and provided the details of confirmed and partnership match funding that had been initially approved by the Council in Support of the Swaffham HSHAZ in February 2020.


The Programme would require daily management and monitoring and continuous reporting to Historic England as the accountable body over the four-year period.  Therefore, the recruitment of a Project Officer would be central to achieving both successful delivery whilst working with a wide range of stakeholders, and ensuring that the processes and procedures required to adhere to the opportunities and constraints of the HSHAZ were followed and met.


Following on from his earlier question, Councillor Colman felt that this was something that should be celebrated, and he hoped that all Members would support this unprecedented investment in one of Breckland’s Market Towns.


Councillor Ian Sherwood, as one of the Ward Members for Swaffham, was delighted with what Breckland Council had achieved. He thanked the Executive Member, Councillor Robinson, and the Team for all their hard work.  He had been overwhelmed by the result and this funding would be an enormous help in the town of Swaffham, which he considered to be the heart of Breckland.  He pointed out that this investment would filter out into the hinterlands so everyone who used the town would benefit.


Given current circumstances with the pandemic, Councillor Bushell asked Councillor Robinson if the initiative for the five market towns would still be able to be undertaken.


Members were informed that the Match Funding from the Council’s Inclusive Growth Reserve for the Market Town initiative would continue to be supported for all five towns and he was sure that the £50,000 per annum over a three year period that had been set aside, given the current climate, would be much needed and welcomed.


As another Ward Member for Swaffham, Councillor Wickerson had been involved in this matter from the start, and he thanked the Officers and the Executive Member for all their support.  He also conveyed his thanks to John Mullen, the External Funding Officer, for discovering this opportunity with Historic England.  He was very conscious of the huge amount of work carried out in order to be one of only 62 towns in the Country that had benefited from this particular funding. There was a great deal of hard work ahead, and he looked forward to working with the Team.


Councillor Hewett congratulated the Executive Member and the Officers for this successful bid.  It reflected a great deal of hard work and a huge amount of effort behind the scenes and was great news for Swaffham.


Councillor Clarke also congratulated all concerned on the project and hoped that the same methodology could be used and applied for the other towns in Breckland and asked if he could meet virtually with colleagues to discuss condition surveys etc for other towns going forward.


Councillor Borrett echoed the comments already made and congratulated Mark Robinson, the Cabinet Member for this work.  This was a great piece of news and it showed the depths and strengths of the Team and the Leader who supported the market town initiative.  Many villages surrounding the towns relied on the facilities and were intrinsically linked and hoped that more funding would be forthcoming for other towns.


The recommendations were proposed and seconded, and it was:




1.     the grant of £380,000 from Historic England to support the Swaffham High Streets Heritage Action Zone be accepted;


2.     the Executive Director of Place be given delegated authority to sign the contract with Historic England on behalf of the Council;


3.     the Executive Director of Place be given delegated authority to manage the scheme and allocate grants in accordance with the terms of the contract and in consultation, where appropriate, with Historic England; and


4.     the Executive Director of Place be given authority to appoint on a temporary contract a Project Manager to oversee the scheme.

Supporting documents: