My name is Owen Barton, and I am the Prescot THI Officer. My job is to make sure that the Prescot THI achieves its aims of regenerating Prescot Town Centre by improving and re-using a number of its historic buildings and using the town’s heritage to deliver training in heritage construction skills and to give people the chance to learn about their town’s heritage. The THI’s biggest funder is the Heritage Lottery Fund and it is vital that every penny is carefully spent.
I have been in post four months now and have been meaning to start this blog for some time so that I can provide regular, direct updates about how the THI is progressing, to promote THI events and opportunities and to otherwise shed light on what is, was and will be going on in Prescot. The amount of work to get the THI up and running means that I haven’t had the chance to provide this sort of update until now.
If you’re reading this blog, then you’ll be on the official Prescot THI website. The homepage of the website explains what the THI is about, and has links to the THI area map and the key documents. If you need to find out more about the THI itself, have a look at the homepage.
So, what has been going on these last four months?
The bulk of the THI’s budget will be spent as grants to building owners to repair, restore and re-use historic buildings in and around Eccleston Street and Market Place. Before a building owner can apply for a grant, several things need to be in place first:
- guidance notes and design guidance for the grant applicants,
- a list of suitably qualified heritage architects and surveyors who are willing to draw up schedules of works and restoration schemes,
- a Partnership Board that will look over every grant application and recommend whether to approve the proposed works,
- meeting and getting to know people who will be involved with the THI: outside of the Council (the Heritage Lottery Fund, Prescot Heritage Hub, Prescot Town Council, Prescot Town Team, building owners, Prescot Community Network, Knowsley Community College, North West Heritage Skills Academy, MALS Merseyside, Merseyside Conservation Officers’ Group) and within the Council (Housing, Regeneration, Highways, Planning, Building Control, Communications, Arts and Leisure, Finance, Archives) and
- promoting awareness of the THI: letting businesses, the community and building owners know that the THI has started, what it’s about, where to find out more and who to contact
It’s been a whirlwind few months, particularly with learning about Prescot, visiting other THI’s elsewhere in the country and putting together plans for the employment / training and community outreach strands of the THI being other things to keep me busy!
What stage is the THI at now?
We are now at the stage where property owners and their architect or surveyor can work with me to put together initial THI grant applications. The first meeting of the Partnership Board will take place in September and there should to be some initial grant applications for the Board to consider by then.
Work on Leyland Street began in March and the resurfacing of the street in a traditional style should be complete before the end of September.
The THI’s first big community outreach event will take place when the Tour of Britain comes to Prescot on 17th September. People will be able to watch and maybe even have a go at have a go at heritage skills like lime plastering, lime pointing and stone carving. This will be the first in a series of events that will be open to all over the autumn and will resume in the spring.
As you can see a lot has happened in the last four months even though – apart from Leyland Street – no THI-funded projects are on site yet. This should change as we receive the first initial grant applications that will then be worked up into full grant applications. Once the first few building projects are underway and we get through the winter, the community and training strands of the THI will really take off.
The next blog entry
The next few blogs will focus on some of the activities mentioned in this post and others I haven’t had the space to mention. Unlike this post, it will be more specific and there will be photos too! Watch this space!