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Historic Railway Village awarded Heritage Action Zone status
Swindon’s treasured Railway Village has been selected as one of Historic England’s special Heritage Action Zones, and only the second in the South West.
The scheme is being led by Swindon Borough Council and will help Swindon’s historic railway area to be a thriving and connected central hub for the town.
The Heritage Action Zone will help to regenerate neglected buildings and enhance visitor attractions and other public amenities in order to draw in residents and visitors.
The detailed plan for the Heritage Action Zone will be worked up by spring 2019 and will confirm the resources, including any grant-funding, to be provided by Historic England.
Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Town Centre, said: “We are delighted that Swindon’s Railway Quarter has been chosen as one of the country’s Heritage Action Zones.
“The Railway Village is the most significant surviving railway-engineering establishment of its time in the world, and our aim is to ensure it is recognised nationally as a go-to place of historic interest.
“It is now crucial that Swindon’s Heritage community pull together to make this scheme a huge success and for visible progress over the next five years.”
There are already 18 Heritage Action Zones in villages, towns and cities across England. In these places, Historic England is working with local people and partners to unlock their potential and to make them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors.
Ross Simmonds, Planning Director for Historic England in the South West, said: “Swindon has so much to be proud of, particularly its world-class railway heritage. Some of its historic buildings are still to find a new use, while some are showing signs of neglect. But with a little investment and imagination, they can become assets for the people to enjoy and for the local economy.
“We are looking forward to working with Swindon Borough Council and its partners to increase awareness of what the town’s Railway Quarter has to offer and to make it easy for investors and developers to bring jobs, homes and visitors here.”
Daniel Rose, Director of The Mechanics’ Institution Trust, said: “The Trust was pleased to be a co-signatory for the bid to Historic England and we are thrilled it has been successful. It was really positive to work alongside colleagues from the Council to pull this bid together in quite a quick timescale as well as face some tough follow-up questions from Historic England.
“The competition for this fund is always very high and whilst I thought we put in a strong bid you never know what you are up against from other towns and cities.
“We now look forward to putting together the detailed plan for how the Heritage Action Zone will work and be delivered during the five-year project."