Tavistock THI Update March 2017

Tavistock Townscape Heritage Initiative Scheme
 
This short briefing note is designed to give you an understanding of the scheme, timescales involved and current activities.
 
The THI is now at an exciting stage of its delivery phase as indicated by the following headlines for recent programme and project progress:
 
  • A display of photographs and architectural drawings highlighting work carried out to date on THI-supported properties (currently the Butchers' Hall and 1 Church Lane) will be available to view from Tuesday 7 March 2017 in the windows of the empty shop at 3 Pannier Market (under the Town Hall opposite the east end of the Pannier Market). 
  • Pannier Market (the second 'Critical' project) - a repair and reinstatement scheme for the roof is currently under preparation and it is anticipated that a THI application will be submitted later this month with a view to physical works being completed in November 2017.
  • Third party projects - in addition to projects already completed or on site the THI Project Manager is currently facilitating another 6 private property owners through the THI project development and application process.  It is anticipated that several of these projects will be proceeding with physical works later this year.
  • 1 Church Lane - a successful visitor morning was held on 21 February 2017 providing opportunities to observe structural roof, masonry and external joinery repairs in progress.  This included commentary from Simon Crosbie of Le Page Architects and Carl Heslop of Obedair (main contractors)
  • 1 Church Lane (the first private project) - restoration work commenced on this iconic neo-Greek style building at the end of October and is due to be completed in mid-April
  • Butchers' Hall (the first 'Critical' project) - restoration work on this building, part of the wonderful ensemble of town centre buildings including the Pannier Market, Town Hall and Guildhall was completed in October 2016
  • Butchers' Hall - a successful skills event was held on 13 September 2016 including commentary tours of the roof with Le Page Architects and A D Williams Ltd (main contractors), joinery and lime skills workshops.
 

 

 
 
The THI Scheme
 
THI is a national programme run by the Heritage Lottery and has been running for many years. Towns like Launceston, Falmouth and Camborne have benefitted from similar schemes. One of the key aims is to use lottery cash to promote economic growth and improve social conditions, through projects to improve the ‘historic built environment’ in Conservation Areas.
 
The town centre of Tavistock is a Conservation Area and World Heritage Site (part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape WHS) with many buildings of significant heritage value, mostly in commercial use (shops and offices).   
 
The Tavistock THI scheme will provide funding to conserve and improve public open spaces, repair and improve civic buildings and commercial premises. It will be important to ensure any works are completed to the highest conservation standards.
 
£980,000 has been set aside by the Heritage Lottery to support the Tavistock Townscape Heritage Initiative (Tavistock THI). Their grant is matched by a similar amount of local funding to provide a £2 million investment in the heart of our historic town.
 
Grants are available for a limited number of public and privately-owned properties that have been targetted by virtue of their historical and architectural significance and potential impact on the town centre environment and economy.  The purpose of the funding is to facilitate comprehensive repairs to the external ‘envelopes’ of the buildings and architectural reinstatement as appropriate to ensure that they are in sound order and contribute positively to the appearance of the Conservation Area. 
 
The THI will also fund improvements to the public realm in the THI area. In addition it will support a series of workshops and courses on conservation and heritage, engaging businesses and the wider local community.
 
THI is a regeneration programme and as such it is important to realise that the social and economic fortunes of the town and its rural hinterland, are intimately linked to our ability to keep the town and its attractions distinctive and prosperous. As part of the process a “case for intervention” had to be made, showing how action to improve the historic environment would help to regenerate the town centre, attract more visitors and address the town’s economic weaknesses.  
 
The success of the scheme is dependent on significant investment from the local authorities, in particular the Town Council, who own much of the historic property in the centre of the town. It also depends on investment by the individual property owners who seek grants from the “Common Fund”, the central fund operated through the Partnership (see below).
 
Two buildings were identified as “Critical” to the success of the scheme – The Pannier Market and the former Auction Rooms (also known as the Butchers' Hall). Meanwhile, a number of other significant buildings, including 1 Church Lane, and properties in West and Market Streets are targetted by the scheme.
 
Much of the scheme is about helping individual property owners with grants to restore shop fronts, and /or bring vacant upper floors back into use – such as creating new office space for small business. There is also a 'complementary initiatives' element of the scheme which aims to raise awareness of Tavistock's rich heritage and to promote training in and application of traditional construction skills.
 
Part of the funds will also be used to restore historical features in the public realm, in particular the Pannier Market surrounds, the Guildhall car park and the area in the vicinity of the North Street, Market Street and King Street junctions with West Street.  In association with this the Partnership developed a Public Realm Strategy to guide improvements to those areas.
 
A map of the proposed scheme area is shown below. Whilst it is important to spread the benefits of the scheme as far as possible, the scheme needs to be sufficiently focused to ensure meaningful impact is achieved. 
 
The Town Council has agreed to be the Accountable Body for the scheme and employs a dedicated Project Manager (currently Martin Searle) to lead the delivery phase of the Initiative.
 
What does this mean in practical terms for businesses in Tavistock?
 
In practical terms the Partnership is running a grant scheme, drawing on money pooled in the “Common Fund” This is a sum of cash provided by scheme partners, including the HLF and the local authorities.
 
Owners of target properties are invited to bid into the Common Fund for grant assistance towards the cost of eligible repairs.  Building contracts are let and managed directly by individual owners and their professional consultants.  Clear guidance notes are available to those who are invited to bid providing advice on eligible costs and conservation standards required to comply with Local Planning Authority and HLF requirements.
 
Examples of eligible works include:-
  • Repair or reinstatement of historic shop fronts
  • External repairs to commercial premises, including roofs, windows and doors, re-rendering and re-pointing of walls, etc
  • Reinstatement of architectural features 
The level of grant funding varies according to the works being proposed. Owners may apply for up to 60% of repair costs and up to 85% for historical improvements. Individual owners/businesses need to fund the balance from their own resources.
 
Want to find out more?
 
If you want to find out more about the proposed scheme, or the Partnership please contact Martin Searle - Tavistock THI Project Manager on 01822 616134 or at martin.searle@tavistock.gov.uk
 
Your involvement and views are welcome!