Plans are afoot to revive one of Sunderland’s most historic districts. An area of central Sunderland that includes Fawcett Street, High Street East, High Street West and Church Street East has been declared a Heritage Action Zone.
The Heritage Action Zone initiative, run by Historic England, aims to “unlock the economic potential” of historic sites and “help breathe new life into unloved places and achieve sustainable growth.”
There are just ten Heritage Action Zones in the UK, and Sunderland’s is the only one in the north east.
A partnership led by Sunderland City Council and Historic England is tasked with transforming the area. A programme of research, repairs and restoration is planned, which – it is hoped – will see local businesses and residents getting involved.
The programme will build on work already undertaken by Sunderland City Council and its partners to regenerate this historic corner of the city and improve its links with the rest of Sunderland.
One aim of the Heritage Action Zone is to encourage people to rediscover their local heritage at a time of great cultural investment in Sunderland. The scheme will run in tandem with projects like the Tall Ships Race 2018, the Great Places Project and Sunderland’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021.
On May 5th, there will be a chance for people to explore the area via a guided walk. People will have the opportunity to learn about the Heritage Action Zone and to share their stories about what that part of Sunderland means for them.
The walk will begin from the Canny Space at 2.00 pm. Places can be reserved by phoning Historic England on 0191 269 1255 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carol Pyrah, Historic England’s north east planning director, said, “This is about using Sunderland’s historic heritage as a source of local pride and a positive force for change.”
“The historic environment provides those unique qualities that make places special.”
“The Heritage Action Zone shines a spotlight on Sunderland’s historic places as providing great areas to live, work and visit.”
The cabinet secretary of Sunderland City Council, Mel Spedding, said, “We’re delighted that Sunderland is one of only ten areas in the country to secure Heritage Action Status.”
“These streets were once at the very heart of the city but declined as commercial activity moved west, leaving a legacy of key historic buildings in poor condition.”
“This scheme provides a real opportunity to unlock the potential of this important historic area.”
“Sunderland is seeing a real cultural renaissance at the moment with schemes like this and the £1.25 million awarded by the Great Places scheme last week to help put culture at the heart of communities.”