Brent Council has published the Press Release below. I welcome the news as an ex-Harlesden (St John's Avenue) resident. The High Street, Craven Park and Station Road have a greater variety of shops than many high streets that are dominated (or perhaps 'were' after the impact of lockdown) by chain stores. Harlesden, when I was last there before Covid, had more wet fish shops than many a coastal town. I remember an American friend visiting Harlesden fascinated by the architecture of the buildings above the shop frontages as much as the shops themselves. I hope that this project marks a positive change in Brent Council's attitude to our heritage.
Part of the High Street selected for shopfront improvements
Harlesden is set to be transformed by a million-pound regeneration project after Brent successfully secured funds for a Harlesden Gateway High Streets Heritage Action Zone. Brent’s winning bid will create a scheme to improve the area and restore lost features on historic buildings in Harlesden town centre over the next two years.
The High Streets Heritage Action Zone is part of the £95 million government-funded programme delivered by Historic England to unlock the potential of 68 high streets across the country. The Harlesden scheme will help support Brent’s economic recovery and breathe new life into the area.
Historic England’s original funding award for the project was worth more than £437,600. Since then, they have offered a further £95,000 to support the programme.
Brent Council will match this with over £454,000 through a successful bid to the NCIL fund (Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy) which is funded by new developments in the borough, bringing the total investment to almost £1 million.
The funding will help deliver:
- Shopfront improvements for a selected list of buildings on the stretch of Harlesden High Street within the designated conservation area (97-109 High Street).
- External improvements to the former HSBC Bank building.
- A “how to” guide on shopfront improvements for local Harlesden businesses.
- Community engagement including a number of apprentices and workshops for young people.
- A local cultural consortium that will bid for revenue funding from Historic England to deliver a programme of cultural activity for the town centre during 2022 in celebration of its diverse heritage and communities. The internal renovation of the former HSBC bank building, which will provide a supportive space for young people run by the Refugee Support Network.
- The improvement of highways, two road crossings and pavements across six streets.
Cllr Shama Tatler, Lead Member for Regeneration, Property and Planning, said:
We are really grateful for this £532,000 of funding from Historic England to deliver the High Streets Heritage Action Zone for Harlesden, and for the GLA’s funding in 2018 to undertake a detailed study of Harlesden through Hawkins Brown Architects, which helped to set the ambitions and vision for the town centre.
The funding is part of more than £5 million investment in Harlesden town centre, and the surrounding area, to provide community facilities, cultural events, workspace and general improvements from 2020 to 2022. This project will help create opportunities for the town centre, the local residents and businesses that are fundamental to its success.
Refugee Support Network has secured funding sources of over £1 million for the project. Catherine Gladwell, chief executive of Refugee Support Network, said:
We are so grateful to have received such generous support from Historic England and from NCIL through Brent as we turn a disused bank into a refugee youth education centre and community hub. Thanks to Historic England, the exterior of the building will be able to be restored in line with its historic architecture and features, and, thanks to the NCIL fund at Brent Council, the inside of the building will be transformed into a youth friendly space in the heart of Harlesden. We're delighted to be partnering with both organisations on this important community project.
Verena McCaig, Heritage at Risk projects officer for Historic England, said:
Every high street has a distinctive history that can be harnessed to help it thrive again. We’re excited to help deliver a High Streets Heritage Action Zone in Harlesden that will restore shop fronts and regenerate the former HSBC building - looking after and celebrating the places at the heart of our communities, and the buildings and public spaces which define their character.