27/10/2009

Major funding bid for heritage buildings in Aberystwyth

A major bid has been launched to fund a Town Heritage Initiative for Aberystwyth - the kind of scheme that has transformed Cardigan in the last five years.

County Council officers have until 30th November to submit a bid to the lottery fund for the renovation of the many buildings of heritage value within the town centre. If successful, the lottery will match any money that can be raised locally.

Ceredigion Council have pledged £40,000 per annum for five years. The National Assembly, which has just awarded Aberystwyth ‘Strategic Regeneration Area’ status, will put in substantially more. Aberystwyth Town Council look set to put a smaller amount of money in and other donations may also be found. The lottery will then double any money raised.

Experience from the Cardigan scheme (pictured) shows that success breeds success and that, after the first year’s work, others are willing to put more money in which then also gets doubled by the lottery. Building owners are expected to pay for 30% of the costs of any work but the other 70% is funded by the scheme. This is more generous than the Town Improvement Grant scheme launched last year which has so far only been taken up by four properties in Aberystwyth.

In Cardigan the Town Heritage Initiative eventually brought in £5.9 million and resulted in major improvements to 70 properties, completely transforming the town. In all but one case the work was done by local craftspeople. Aberystwyth, being a larger town, could potentially attract much more money.

As well as raising the spirits and sense of identity of local people, heritage schemes also have a major economic value in attracting visitors. It may be that this kind of a scheme can ultimately have as good an economic effect on Aberystwyth as the controversial Sorting Office Scheme was hoped to have but by enhancing what the town already has rather than by destroying a large section of it.

The result of the bid will be announced next April. Letters of support should be e-mailed to
garyc@ceredigion.gov.uk

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