Heritage Lottery Funded Townscape Heritage Initiative update

Article dated Tuesday May 16, 2017 at 11:13 AM

A £2.7million Bradford Council and Heritage Lottery Funded Townscape Heritage Initiative is drawing to a close in Keighley after 6 years.

Dating back to the Doomsday book the town is steeped in history. It has an industrial tradition originating in textiles - particularly wool, cotton processing and textile machinery and the distinctive look of the buildings comes from the local millstone grit.

The scheme focused on the older part of the town where the impressive Victorian and Edwardian commercial and civic buildings needed investment to preserve their character for the future.

The scheme has allowed grants to be awarded to property owners to help them repair and reinstate traditional features on their buildings such as shop-fronts and windows and also bring vacant upper floors into use.

Training and community activities have also taken place to encourage property owners and local groups to get involved in the transformation to their local area and see the potential and value that historic properties have.

The public realm around North Street and Church Street has been de-cluttered and had Yorkshire stone paving reinstated.

Several residential units have been created  on the upper floors of buildings. The arcade on North Street has been transformed with Victorian shop-fronts reinstated and the offices on the upper floors being converted to apartments.

Saira Ali Team Leader, Landscape Design and Conservation at Bradford Council, said: “The Townscape Heritage Initiative has helped the residents of Keighley and property owners in the project area to rediscover the history and architectural wealth of their town centre. 19 properties have benefitted from restoration and repair of lost or decayed traditional details, as well as making empty space fit for new uses. Pavements to the principal streets have been restored to natural stone paving complementing the architecture and local stone of the fine and varied buildings.”

Jon Ackroyd Keighley Townscape Heritage Officer at Bradford Council, said: “The Townscape Heritage Initiative has awakened a broad audience to the importance of heritage. From introducing students and the public to the traditional skills necessary to maintain and restore the fine buildings in Keighley Town Centre, to breathing life into abandoned spaces above town centre shops, both building owners and the economy of the town have benefitted from the investment made into the heritage of Keighley.

“The visual impact of restoring buildings such as The Arcade on North Street and shops on High Street and Church Street is clear for all to see, and the restored frontages encourage confidence and pride in the commercial heart of the town.

“The rich history and architecture of Keighley is being highlighted at present by restoration of town centre buildings and at Cliffe Castle Park. The Townscape Heritage Initiative has helped install shop-fronts to original plans to town centre buildings, repair roofs and restore damaged or missing stonework.

“The pavements of some of the key historic streets have been re-paved in natural stone. Property and business owners can now appreciate the importance these building make to the identity of the town, as well as understanding better how to maintain their buildings in the future”

Another success story was M and J Framing at 14 High Street. Research was carried out into how this individually designed building would have looked when it was first constructed and the result has transformed the appearance of the building on this prominent gateway to the town centre by reinstating authentic shop-front and windows to the upper floors as well as repairs to preserve it for the future.

The Grade II listed former Liberal Club at 3 High Street, now Jean Junction has also been refurbished, a staircase was reinstated to allow access to long neglected upper floors and these are now able to be let out and occupied, a traditional shop-front has been installed which has made a significant difference to the appearance of this impressive and prominent building.

The grant scheme has contributed to a number of properties and two areas of public realm being restored to their former glory and made a significant improvement to this historic area of the town.

A spokesperson for Keighley Osteopaths, Farfield House Clinic, who have received a grant towards refurbishment of their prominent building at Farfield House, 105 North Street, said “From initial meeting to final signing off we have found the whole process of working together with the Council and Heritage Lottery Fund very supportive, informative and a lot less stressful than we had thought possible. With excellent contractors working together with us and the Council we have achieved a wonderful end product. The results are splendid and Farfield House has been restored to its former glory, adding to the Keighley town centre attractiveness.”

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