Kirkham High Street is the centre of a multi-million pound regeneration programme. The initiative paves the way for economic and cultural regeneration in market towns all over the country.
Like many towns, Kirkham town centre has suffered from the national decline in high street shopping trends. Located in the heart of the Fylde, Lancashire, Kirkham high street, like many, has seen pubs and cinemas shuttered. The town once hosted 6 bank branches and saw the last close its doors in 2019.
After years of neglect, many fear that coronavirus could mark the end for thousands of high streets like Kirkham, unless something is done.
That’s why Fylde Borough Council, working with Bauman Lyons Architects, has set out ambitious plans to regenerate the town centre.
The scheme has already been successful in winning High Street Heritage Action Zone funding from Historic England – a £4million, 4 year regeneration programme to revive the historic market town.
Now having submitted a Masterplan and Full Business Case, the programme has been shortlisted for £10million of regeneration funding from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.
The regeneration has been carefully planned in cooperation with the local community, Town Council, shopkeepers, central and local government to ensure local people have their voices heard and have been able to shape the future of the town.
A new Heritage and Eco Skills Centre, a new arts centre and cinema together with re-developed empty shops and new town centre housing will create new work and leisure opportunities for people. These projects not only create new jobs, they tie the community together in the regeneration effort itself.
Mark Menzies, Conservative MP for Fylde, said: “Kirkham is very much at the heart of my constituency. Here in Kirkham we have an opportunity to demonstrate a totally new approach to high street generation. We have brought together civil society, the public sector, local business and the local community to breathe life back into this once bustling highstreet.”
Liz Oades, Kirkham Town Councillor said: “This is a truly exciting time for Kirkham and is an investment which is long overdue, our ancient Market town has successfully coped with many changes over hundreds of years and, with the opportunity this funding can give us, we will see our town move forward to secure many more successful years and provide our residents and visitors with a vibrant town centre.“
Richard Redcliffe, Chairman of Fylde Council’s Town Centres Working Group said: “Our town centres are the life blood of the communities they serve. The exciting opportunities that have been identified in Kirkham, will provide the residents of Kirkham and the surrounding area with a town centre that meets their needs and that they can be proud of.”
Andrew Chatterjee, Principal Regeneration Officer, Fylde Borough Council said “The Future High Street Fund bid in conjunction with the High Street HAZ programme will be game changers for this town and together represent the largest and most exciting investment in Kirkham for decades.”
Heidi Hopkinson, Chair, Kirkham Business Group said: “It’s like putting your finger in a dam and the water’s coming out all around you. The community can do so much with the love and affection that they have but there comes a time when you have to say we need help to take this forward right into the 21st century and beyond.”
Irena Bauman, Co-Founder, Bauman Lyons Architects said: “This project represents a turning point for high streets in market towns right across the country. We’ve shown that when we bring the community together with local institutions we can do regeneration with and not just to the people of these towns.”