First shopfront grants awarded

Blitz Photography at 8 Portland Buildings

Two Gosport shop owners are celebrating after becoming the first to be awarded grants to help them improve their historic shopfronts and restore the character of the town centre.

8 Portland Buildings and 65 Stoke Road have received a development grant which will help the owners prepare the design and costings for the next stage of the restoration process.

The grants have been made through the Gosport High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ). Funded by Historic England, Gosport’s HSHAZ grant scheme aims to improve the historic character and condition of properties in the High Street and Stoke Road conservation areas.

Lisa Grafton, owner of 65 Stoke Road, said: “This is an amazing opportunity to improve or invest in your property and I can’t wait to see the results. I think it will be a real transformation and huge improvement to my shopfront. Stoke Road is a buzzing part of Gosport, a little gem of a place to set up a small business.”

Georgina Reid of Blitz Photography located in 8 Portland Buildings said, “Our shop was formally Bulls Hardware store which was extremely well known and served the community from the 1920s to the 1980s. As the latest owners, we are the custodians of this building and the grant will help us preserve this historic town centre shop into its second century for future generations to enjoy.”

One of three funding programmes, the development grants will help shop owners to understand their properties, the historic and architectural value of the buildings and the work required. This will then allow them to complete a comprehensive application for additional grants that focus on carrying out the repair work, enhancing the shopfronts, and bringing vacant floor space back into use.

The Leader of the Gosport Borough Council, Cllr Graham Burgess, said: “We’re delighted to see the first grants go out as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone. Through this four-year programme, we hope to restore the character of Gosport’s historic centre, making it a more welcoming and attractive place for everyone to enjoy. We wish Lisa and Georgina lots of success with their development projects.”

Rachel James of Historic England said: “This is an exciting first step in seeing a physical transformation of some of Gosport’s historic buildings in the High Street Heritage Action Zone and we look forward to receiving more grant applications through the scheme.”

If you would like to find out more about the programme and how to apply for a heritage property grant, you can submit an expression of interest form at www.gosport.gov.uk/hshazgrants

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About High Streets Heritage Action Zones

The High Streets Heritage Action Zones is a £95 million government-funded programme led by Historic England, designed to secure lasting improvements and help breathe new life into our historic high streets for the communities and businesses that use them. Historic England is working with local people and partners to unlock the rich heritage on these high streets, through repair and improvement works as well as arts and cultural programmes, making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors.

About Historic England

We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories these places tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.