£500k Historic England grant to boost Weston-super-Mare – but Birnbeck Pier is ‘not included’

Birnbeck Pier will not be included within Weston-super-Mare's new Heritage Action Zone.

Birnbeck Pier will not be included within Weston-super-Mare's new Heritage Action Zone. - Credit: Archant

Fresh new life is set to be breathed into some of Weston’s oldest buildings and public spaces, thanks to funding from Historic England worth £500,000.

The town will soon be turned into an area known as a Heritage Action Zone (HAZ), which will allow North Somerset Council to work alongside Historic England to regenerate historic buildings, organise community events and celebrate the town’s rich heritage.

These action zones can only be set up in areas which are deemed to be of historical importance, with the potential for important areas and buildings to be improved. They have previously transformed areas of the country such as Margate, in Kent, and it is hoped such success will be replicated in Weston.

Council leader Nigel Ashton said Historic England had accepted a bid of about £500,000 in funding from the authority, and he said the money would go a long way in helping Weston’s regeneration progress.

Cllr Ashton said: “We will now be working closely with Historic England to set up an HAZ partnership team and prepare a detailed delivery programme and plan.

“We are the only successful HAZ bid in the South West and the aim is to launch the zone next April.”

A council spokesman said the zone was expected to cover Weston town centre, but no specific buildings, spaces or further funding opportunities had yet been agreed.

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However, the council was able to confirm one of the town’s most prominent – and needy – buildings will not be included.

The spokesman said: “The Heritage Action Zone does not include Birnbeck Pier, as this is very much a complete programme all to itself due to all the separate issues including the sheer scale, complexity and timescales involved.”

Historic England said the zone would enable the organisation to work alongside North Somerset to rapidly improve certain areas of Weston.

Andrew Vines is Historic England’s regional planning director for the South West. He said: “The creation of a Heritage Action Zone in Weston provides the opportunity to revitalise the town’s historic buildings and public spaces as part of the wider regeneration work of North Somerset Council.

“We look forward to working with the council to develop the programme and to secure funding for change that puts heritage at the heart of the town.”