Maryport High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ)
The HAZ bid was submitted to Historic England after the high street emerged as a key priority from community engagement events in 2017/18 for the Maryport Delivery Plan.
The bid was successful because Historic England could see the great potential for Maryport’s economy to be revived using its unique and attractive built heritage as a catalyst to re-invigorating its high street for greater use and a more diverse range of activities. In total it will see an investment of around £1.2m in the town centre.
The programme is funded by Historic England, Allerdale Borough Council and Sellafield as well as property owners. There are three main strands to the bid: The Capital Programme, The Cultural Programme and Community Engagement.
The HAZ boundary, and the four key building improvements are coloured green is shown in the plan below (the pink buildings are listed buildings).
Map showing boundary of the Heritage Action Zone area
Based around Senhouse Street - the repair and enhanced use of four very prominent buildings in Senhouse Street: Town Hall, 1 Senhouse Street (Maritime Museum), Heron Foods and 68 Crosby Street (part of the former Midland Bank Chambers building and its proposed conversion to visitor accommodation), plus the significant improvement of many of the poorer quality shopfronts, as well as small scale public realm improvements.
Here's a round-up of the projects:
- Maryport Town Hall: The Town Hall will be repaired and improved to make it much more welcoming and adaptable for additional uses.
- The Maritime Museum: The proposals involve repairing and refurbishing the building to update and enable better use of the space.
- 68 Crosby Street: This building will be repaired and re-used and will enable access to the upper floors of the former Midland Bank building (50 Senhouse Street) so that that can be converted into residential and/or visitor accommodation in the future.
- Heron Foods: The proposal is to return the façade of the building to something that much better reflects and compliments the historic character of the building and the street, including the creation of three new shopfronts, reinstated bay windows at first floor and the refurbishment of the historic dormers at second floor. The wider works involve a shop refit and the improvement of the largely vacant upper floors to enable their re-use.
- Shopfront Grant Scheme: The shopfront grant scheme is programmed to start from April 2021, in order to enable the replacement of some of the pooer quality shopfronts that create a bad image and replace them with shopfronts that much better reflect the quality of the historic architecture.
- Public realm: The proposed HAZ public realm works are quite minor, but involve improved signage, a couple of wall mounted maps identifying historic and visitor opportunities and some improved seating on Shipping Brow. These are largely scheduled for later in the programme in order to integrate with, hoped for, additional funding through the Government’s Future High Streets fund, and the HAZ Cultural Programme’s Street Art project (see below).
One of the main differences between this and other funding programmes is that in addition to investing in its buildings, there is a strong focus on creating events and activities to increase footfall and get more people involved in and appreciating the opportunities for enjoying the town centre and its unique history, heritage and natural beauty.
A team of local people involved in arts and culture has got together with the local councils and are designing a programme of events, reflecting priorities identified through community engagement (and influenced by Covid considerations) in and around the town centre, highlighting and enhancing its heritage qualities.
The Cultural Programme will be announced in early 2021, but it is expected that professionally created street art and the start of a street art trail, inspired by local people’s perception of what is good about Maryport, will be an early project that can create excitement and bring more people into Maryport in a 'covid-safe’ way. There will be many other activities and events including gigs and festivals (covid-permitting) later in the programme.
We have recently had some good news that we have been successful in a HAZ pilot street art project that could see the start of a street art trail for Maryport. The project will call for people to submit their own works of art inspired by what they love about Maryport, with workshops provided by local artists, to create a free exhibition along the high street.
The second part of the project will see an internationally-acclaimed street artist create a mural, inspired by Maryport’s heritage and the opportunity for a group of local young people to interact with the artist and learn about the process. The pilot project will kick-off an ambitious programme that will see local communities, artists and organisations work alongside globally acclaimed artists to help show off what the town has to offer, to an international audience.
An essential element of the programme is to ensure ongoing engagement with the local community encouraging maximum awareness, understanding and ‘ownership’ of the programme. The lack of announcement of the scheme until August and Covid restrictions have made this element more of a challenge. However engagement, with the help of local groups, will focus on ensuring awareness and involvement, where appropriate, in the HAZ capital projects, but also around activities in the cultural programme and, more generally, around Maryport’s heritage and increasing awareness and pride in Maryport’s history and how it can contribute to its future prosperity.
A community engagement plan of activities include:
- Regular updates providing opportunities for involvement in HAZ projects, using, existing and new, websites, social media, local publications (such as Maryport Matters) and the wider press
- Community activities around Maryport’s heritage and what elements are most important to local residents
- The creation of a film recording local people’s lifestyles and what is important to them.
- Heritage and art trail(s) with augmented reality, bringing to life Maryport’s history.
- Recorded verbal history projects (elements of which could also be used in the heritage trail).
- The display of old photos and local art in vacant shop units.
- The display of before and after plans of improvement works in vacant shop windows.
Previous regeneration initiatives in Maryport have succeeded in improving the infrastructure and the appearance of the town, but have not led to notable increases in investment, footfall or jobs in the town centre. It is felt that long term economic growth resulting from the current high street initiatives is only possible if significantly more people are attracted to the town and if a large proportion of the Maryport community feels involved in, support and have confidence and belief in success.
It is hoped that the Cultural Programme and the focus on improved community engagement will help people to get more involved in using and enjoying the town centre for a greater mix of activities.