Exciting progress has been made for the North Walsham High Street Heritage Action Zone project.

North Norfolk District Council is thrilled to announce the appointment of Influence, chartered landscape architects who will be undertaking the townscaping element of the project along with expert partners.

The team aim to provide sustainable solutions to urban planning and have extensive experience of working in conjunction with local authorities and communities to deliver landscaping and public realm services, including working on High Street Heritage Action Zones projects elsewhere in the UK.

Shona Hatton, associate director at Influence, said: “High Street Heritage Action Zones are such a key part of the future for our towns – especially post the pandemic – and are often driven by a strong local community interest. Revitalising and regenerating our high streets whilst reinstating the heritage roots is critical to their success, now and in the future.

“North Walsham is a vibrant market town but has been waiting for a long time to bring forward a high street public realm project. Now that it’s here, myself and the Influence team are honoured to have been selected to work on this important project, and are pleased to be supporting North Norfolk District Council’s in-house team.

“Our previous experience in delivering High Street Heritage Action Zones has given us specialist knowledge and understanding of the challenges and huge opportunities in our high streets -and we are using those assets to re-imagine the physical and social environment in North Walsham – to enable it to be a prosperous town where people want to live, work and relax.”

Master planning and consultation will be led by HETA – a studio of architects, designers and thinkers. Their focus is on people and how to create better, more meaningful experiences for them. Having completed a site visit the team will implement a programme of consultation and community engagement to see how the people of North Walsham want to see the space in the town centre used.

Other partners involved include Rees Bolter Architects as heritage consultants, BSP for highways and transport consultancy and Gleeds Cost Management, quantity surveyors.

This work is a vital part of the programme’s wider “placemaking” objectives, inspiring people to re-imagine and re-engage with the town centre as the heart of the community. It will focus on making the town centre a destination which embraces its heritage and community, creating a shared space people can enjoy, take pride in and encourages others to visit.

The Council and partners will seek to hear what residents, businesses and visitors want to see in North Walsham and foster a sense of community that maximises shared value by making it easier to move around the town centre and improve the appearance and quality of public spaces, starting with work which will see the improvement of the Lokes and alleyways that connect different areas within the town centre.

As part of this, the Council intends to purchase a piece of land adjacent to Black Swan Loke, a long-standing derelict area on an important pedestrian approach to the town centre, and is exploring options to maximise the potential of this busy route.

Cllr Richard Kershaw, NNDC’s Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Growth, commented: “We are very pleased to be working with Influence on this project and have been impressed with work they have done in other market towns.

“This will be an exciting, inclusive project to bring lasting improvements to the fabric of North Walsham and to bring visitors to the town for the benefit of local businesses.

“In addition to this, the Cultural Programme will soon get underway will bring together various societies and groups in and around the town to help celebrate the rich history of North Walsham.”

The Heritage Action Zone grant will also provide an opportunity to review the options for the most suitable use of the Council’s New Road site and the Listed buildings on it (known as The Cedars), and the role it can play in the regeneration of North Walsham town centre. In the short-term, essential repair work is set to begin soon.

The project is part of Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme to renew and revive town centres in England, with match funding from The Council and additional funding secured from the New Anglia LEP’s “Getting Building Fund”.

Over the next four years, the programme of work is designed to secure lasting improvements for the town’s historic core and the communities who use it. This will be achieved through a range of both physical interventions, such as the placemaking work and Building Improvements grants (opening soon), as well as community led programming to bring the town’s rich history and stories to life. 

About High Streets Heritage Action Zones

The High Streets Heritage Action Zones is a £95 million government-funded programme led by Historic England, designed to secure lasting improvements and help breathe new life into our historic high streets for the communities and businesses that use them. Historic England is working with local people and partners to unlock the rich heritage on these high streets, through repair and improvement works as well as arts and cultural programmes, making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors. 

About Historic England

We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.