Lancaster Grand Theatre to benefit from Heritage Action Zone funding


August 21, 2020

Work has started to deliver essential repairs to Lancaster’s Grand Theatre as part of a £2.875million project to breathe new life into one of the city’s most historic areas.

Thanks to a successful bid to Historic England led by Lancaster City Council, the theatre is receiving a grant of over £58k from the new Lancaster High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) project.

The HSHAZ project aims to improve the historic character of an area in the north-east of the city around North Road, Lower Church Street and St Leonardgate. This area is part of the Lancaster Conservation Area and traces the development of the city from its Roman and medieval settlements through its great expansion in the 18th and 19th century as a result of trading opportunities arising from the city’s position next to the River Lune.

Lasting until March 2024, the HSHAZ will provide grants to buildings of heritage value that are in need of repair and improvement together with investment in high quality public realm, restoring and enhancing the historic character of the area. These interventions will be supported by training and engagement opportunities as well as cultural activities to create an attractive, engaging and vibrant place for people to live, work, trade, visit and play.

The Grand is the first building to benefit and the initial grant will tackle issues on the Lodge Street elevation, removing the rendering and repointing the wall to make it watertight. 

It’s also hoped that in the future the HSHAZ will be able to support the theatre’s wider ambitions to create a new foyer.

Councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox, Lancaster City Council’s cabinet member for sustainable economic prosperity, said: “The area covered by the HSHAZ is home to an extraordinarily rich heritage, and helps to shape the city’s distinctive character.

“It does, however, suffer from being disconnected physically from the core city centre, something which we now hope to be able to address. HSHAZ also has the potential to bring back in to use empty or under-used heritage buildings and to make the most of the streetscape.

“The funding will help to act as a catalyst to reinvigorate this part of the city, and its cultural offer, as we deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as strengthening connectivity to contribute to the wider plans that are emerging for the Canal Quarter.”

Mike Hardy, Chairman of Lancaster Footlights, who own the Grand, said: “This continues to be a difficult year for the Grand and many others but we are delighted to be receiving support to deliver these essential repairs to help safeguard the theatre’s future.”

The majority of funding for the HSHAZ has come from Historic England and Lancaster City Council with each putting in £1.15million. The project is also being delivered with support from Lancaster University, Lancaster Business Improvement District (BID) and Lancashire County Council.

The programme will enable local stakeholders, businesses and residents to participate in plans particularly around managing and better understanding the area’s historic importance and how changes to the public realm and highway can enhance sense of place and encourage footfall and dwell time in the city centre.

Property owners from within the HSHAZ area are invited to email heritageactionzone@lancaster.gov.uk for an informal discussion about grant opportunities.