Wigan Heritage Action Zone project scoops national award
An historical and cultural project spearheaded by Wigan Council has been recognised for its potential to transform the town centre.
The King Street Heritage Action Zone won the Future Cities Forum’s 2021 High Streets award.
This accolade acknowledges how regeneration projects use heritage aspects to improve the high street from economic and aesthetic perspectives.
Judges referenced the HAZ’s work in reusing and reviving historic buildings such as the Royal Court Theatre and its links with the Fire Within cultural manifesto.
Strengthening the relationships between culture, communities and historic places is at the heart of the HAZ initiative and the council is working closely with The Old Courts, and a consortium of borough-based organisations, to deliver some fantastic arts and cultural activities on the street.
Coun Terry Halliwell, lead member for heritage and building conservation at the council, said: “We know how important the HAZ project is for the future of our town centre and it’s fantastic for it to receive such praise and receive external recognition.
“Working alongside our partners and community, we hope to make King Street the go-to place for cultural and leisure activities.”
The Future Cities Forum awards highlight projects that ‘show real vision in their concept and design’ and use ‘sustainability in how they will be delivered’.
For its King Street HAZ plans, Wigan Council is providing match funding which, along with private sector and other sources, will see investment of around £2.5m.
As part of the project, the council is now working with Historic England to develop and deliver schemes that will transform and restore disused and dilapidated buildings into new homes, shops, workplaces and community spaces, restoring local historic character and improving public realm.
Thanks to local community groups – such as the Wigan Local History and Heritage Society – the social history of King Street is being collated as part of ‘The Street That Was’ scheme.
This will inform the subsequent development of the project through ‘The Street That Is’ then ‘The Street That Will Be’ chapters.
A cultural programme named Streets Apart runs alongside this work.
A consortium of nine borough-based organisations is commissioning artists, local creative partners and community groups to co-create unique street art, podcasts outdoor performance and more, culminating in a celebratory festival for the whole community in 2023.
Awards judge Claire McColgan from Culture Liverpool, said: “Wigan’s King Street is important because it is about using the arts to regenerate a high street using brilliant story-telling.”