The High Streets Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ) champions the value of heritage within the high street, using heritage for positive change to address the current decline facing the area. It encourages sympathetic improvements to buildings and public spaces, and a programme of cultural activities and community engagement initiatives to encourage pride in place and ensure communities are actively engaged in the areas protection and presentation.
The London Road boundary encompasses a significant portion of the South Lowestoft and Kirkley Conservation Area, and includes the key commercial areas of London Road North, Station Square and London Road South, which contains several Grade II listed and locally listed buildings. The built heritage is predominantly 19th century Victorian architecture, much of it being developed under Morton Peto’s development of the town, as a Victorian pleasure resort.
Projects under the HSHAZ include:
Conservation Grant Schemes
The Conservation Grant Schemes have awarded over £400,000 of funding to secure repairs to historic shopfronts and reinstatement of lost architectural features to historic buildings within the HSHAZ boundary. The scheme has also attracted private investment into the area, with property owners also contributing to the cost of capital works.
Over £120,000 of funding has been spent on cultural activity in Lowestoft as a result of the HSHAZ Cultural Programme to make high streets more vibrant places to visit. Streets have been taken back in time to the 1940s, 1960s and 1880s, we have worked with local partners to produce bespoke theatre pieces and we have commissioned an award-winning poet and renowned artist to create original pieces celebrating the significance of the Post Office to Lowestoft. As a special commission with Emergency Exit Arts, the 2023 First Light Festival was kicked off with the launch of ‘HiStreet Fest’ which saw an incredible parade from the high street to the beach, led by a huge fox, stilt walkers, a samba band, puppets, dance troupes and school and community groups.
Using the high street as an event space for cultural and heritage experiences promotes activity in shopping areas and has proven to benefit the local economy, with independent businesses receiving more shoppers during events, as well as return visits following activities and helps establish a vibrant shopping environment to visit.
Funding was made available to reverse many 20th century inappropriate alterations to the exterior of the Grade II listed former Post Office and works started on site in January 2022 until April 2023. The completed works have seen the roof reinstated with natural Welsh slates and the ground floor fenestration restored to its original appearance. A detailed schedule of repairs to the external fabric of the building has also been completed, including replacing heavily weathered balusters at the parapet, repairs to the chimneys including some replacement of stone, and renewing leadwork and rainwater goods. Specialist conservators have also competed air lime repointing, consolidation, and mortar repairs to the façade, as well as the removal of algae, sulphation crusts, dirt, and a linseed oil surface coating. In May 2023, the high quality of the conservation repairs project was recognised with the RIBA Suffolk Individual Craftmanship Award.