A MAJOR plan to breathe new life into 'tired' buildings in Oswestry town centre has taken another step forward.

The High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme, administered by Historic England, will see the town given a £1.25m injection from Historic England, Shropshire Council and the town council.

The money will fund the repurposing of empty buildings, including a ‘flagship project’ to turn a long-term vacant property into a business hub, as well as a grant scheme to help business owners improve their shop fronts.

At a meeting of Shropshire Council’s cabinet on Monday, members approved the proposed governance structure and management arrangements for the HSHAZ programme, to allow the grants to be distributed.

Councillor Steve Charmley, portfolio holder for economic growth and regeneration, said: “I’m sure colleagues will be aware that Oswestry, through the Future Oswestry Group, has been successful in being awarded Heritage Action Zone status, which has funding attached to it of £1.25 million which includes a contribution from Oswestry Town Council.

“It’s important that we put in the governance around this to make sure that everything runs smoothly when we start dishing out grants.”


Cllr Charmley, who sits on the Future Oswestry Group (FOG), which has representation from the town council and the Business Improvement District (BID), added that similar reports had already gone before town councillors and the BID board.

Cllr Robert Macey, portfolio holder for housing and strategic planning, said the HSHAZ status was a “real bonus” for Oswestry.

He said: “I think there’s a real appetite in the town, from businesses and from others, to really make the most of it and improve – whether it’s shop fronts or the other things highlighted in the report.

“It’s a real good news story for the town.”

Council leader Peter Nutting added: “Oswestry is going to be one of the ‘boom towns’ in Shropshire by the time we get Mile End (Oswestry Innovation Park) into action and the town upgraded as much as possible.”

Along with private investment and in-kind contribution of staff and volunteer hours, the total cost of the project is estimated at £1.84m.

Cabinet members unanimously agreed to the report’s recommendations, including delegating authority to the director of place, Mark Barrow, to formally agree the governance arrangements for the programme with FOG partners.

The report also set out plans for a programme of activities to celebrate Oswestry’s heritage and culture, put on by the town’s new ‘culture consortium’.

The council has bid for an extra grant of £106,000 from Historic England to fund the project.

Cabinet members agreed the council would act as accountable body for the delivery of the consortium’s events programme, if the funding is awarded.