Nottingham’s Heritage Action Zone is celebrating the start of works to its largest grant-funded project to date.

The Grade II listed Cavendish Building and Premier House on Wheeler Gate will benefit from an investment of nearly £700,000 to restore shopfronts and features to their former glory. Just under £300,000 of the total investment has been grant aided by Historic England.

Before: How the buildings on Wheeler Gate look now

The Nottingham Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) is a five-year grant funded scheme for repairs and improvements to historic properties in Old Market Square and Lace Market Conservation Areas. The scheme is supported with funding from Historic England, and led by Nottingham City Council.

Cavendish Building and Premier House both lie within the Old Market Square Conservation Area. The works aim to reinstate original historic features to nine of the shopfronts, and includes new timber framework, large glazing, high level signage and recessed entrances with decorative tiling and will help to bring a distinctive and smart, unified look to the large row of shops and units that make up most of the eastern side of Wheeler Gate.

After: Artists impression of how the buildings could look following works. Image courtesy of Rayner Davies Architects.

The shopfront scheme will complement works being carried out by the building’s owners to convert the upper floors into apartments. One of the non-listed shops will also be converted into a residential access entrance for the new homes.

The scheme aims to help bring the vacant units back into use and existing businesses to rebrand, ready to relaunch for when the high street and economy starts to recover from Covid 19 restrictions. Heritage-led regeneration will help contribute towards the recovery of Nottingham following the pandemic by addressing vacancy, helping support small and independent businesses.

Councillor Linda Woodings, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing & Heritage, said: “Some privately owned historic buildings in the city are showing signs of neglect, but with support, partnership working and grant-funded schemes like the Heritage Action Zone, they can become an asset for the city’s economy again.

“The transformation of these important historic buildings will greatly contribute towards the city’s economy, providing a catalyst for heritage-led regeneration alongside the transformation of Nottingham Castle, Carrington Street and the wider Broadmarsh area.

“Nottingham is proud of its past and ambitious for its future and heritage led regeneration is a fantastic way to restore the city’s historic character, boost tourism and create jobs.”

Clive Fletcher, Principal Advisor and Lead Specialist said: “Historic England is delighted to provide grant assistance with Nottingham City Council for this worthy project, as part of the Nottingham Heritage Action Zone. The nine new shop fronts will match closely the lost originals, and should represent a dramatic enhancement to Wheeler Gate, combined as it is with the conversion of the building to flats above.”

Architect Jamie Brown from Rayner Davies said regarding the Wheeler Gate scheme: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Nottingham City Council, Glendine Developments and Pulse Consult to enhance a large portion of our high street, bringing back its original character and charm.

“The proposals seek to reinstate the designs of the original architect, John Howitt, which has been supported under the Heritage Action Zone scheme led by Nottingham City Council and Historic England. The aspiration is that through high quality design, the proposal will provide cohesion and character that is unique to Nottingham, across these shop frontages as was originally intended. Once completed by the chosen contractor Stevenson Bros, we hope the end result will revitalise trading and make Wheeler Gate a Nottingham destination.”

The project will help to join up work being carried out within the wider Broadmarsh area, including heritage works as part of the Townscape Heritage Scheme on Carrington Street, with the heritage works in Old Market Square and Market Street as part of the Heritage Action Zone programme.

Other buildings, which have also benefitted from grant funding as part of the Heritage Action Zone to tackle poor conditions and restore historic features, include Wolf and Hui Lau Shan, which are located on Market Street. Both have helped to transform the once vacant units into new businesses. Work on a number of other properties on Market Street are also in the pipeline for over the next six months.

Nottingham was proud to be chosen as one of the country’s very first Heritage Action Zones. The five-year programme (2017 to 2022), worth £2.7m, includes 17 projects that will revitalise the city centre. It includes grants for historic properties in Old Market Square and Lace Market Conservation Areas for conservation-led repairs and improvements to support the city’s economy.

Find out more about the exciting and ambitious Heritage Action Zone programme at Heritage Action Zone and Conservation Area Grants.

About Historic England

Historic England is the public body that champions and protects England’s historic places. It looks after the historic environment, providing expert advice, helping people protect and care for it and helping the public to understand and enjoy it.