Weston-super-Mare High Street Heritage Action Zone legacy celebrated


A national seven-year programme has finished which has seen some of Weston-super-Mare’s historic buildings restored and protected, while increasing engagement in heritage.

The town’s Heritage Action Zone programmes have led to 14 historic buildings being maintained and restored. This includes eight previously empty retail units being brought back to use for communities and local businesses.

Alongside this, 873 local community volunteers have provided 5,500 hours’ work delivering 93 engagement activities. Highlights include 40 school engagement sessions, engaging 8,465 young people with heritage, 29 public events including 15 heritage talks, nine guided heritage walks and seven exhibitions and displays.

North Somerset Council received £1.1m from Historic England when it was awarded High Streets Heritage Action Zone status in 2020. This national initiative ended in March 2024.

This was a continuation of investment in the town’s heritage after £800k in funding was awarded by Historic England to North Somerset Council in 2017 for the creation of the Great Weston Heritage Action Zone. This was one of England’s first Heritage Actions Zones, which ended in September 2022.

Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme has unlocked the potential of 67 historic high streets across England. Combining investment in buildings and shopfronts with community engagement and cultural events, the programme has helped to boost pride in place, connect communities and drive economic growth.

Councillor Mike Solomon, North Somerset Council’s executive member responsible for Heritage Action Zones, said: “Weston has seen significant improvements as a result of the interest Historic England has shown in our town, and the funding it has provided to restore and preserve our heritage for current and future generations. The funding is certainly leaving a strong legacy. We’re very grateful and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Historic England. Without them, this work would not have been possible. I’d also like to extend my thanks to everyone involved in delivering these projects.

“You only need to walk along Walliscote Road to see the impact that this work has made. Although this initiative has ended, our work to respect the town’s rich heritage and make it an even greater place to live and work doesn’t end here. We’re already planning work on several buildings in the High Street thanks to the UK government’s Levelling Up fund. People will continue to see positive change over the next few years – it truly is an exciting time for the town.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: “We want our high streets to last. We know how important they are to our collective identity, our local pride and our sense of place. This means reimagining a new future for them so they remain at the heart of our communities. Our High Streets Heritage Action Zone initiative has proven that heritage-led regeneration can unlock a new, positive future for England’s high streets. Across the four years, I have seen the simple yet tangible impact that restoring shop fronts and community spaces makes. And I have witnessed with utter joy the power of bringing people together on our high streets through celebratory cultural events. These places deserve a future.”

Arts & Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “Our high streets are the arteries which have provided the lifeblood of our communities down the ages. Each generation has left their mark on them, and the way we use them continues to change.

"The brilliant High Street Heritage Action Zones have enabled people across the country to learn about the hidden histories of the buildings they pass every day, helping to shed light on the past, bring people together in the present, and inspire new ideas for the future.

“Historic England has done brilliant work – with the support of the Government, and the involvement of local authorities, community trusts and arts organisations – to deliver this programme over the past four years, helping our high streets to spring back to life after the pandemic, and ensuring that they will remain at the heart of their communities for generations to come."

More information can be found at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/heritageactionzone.

Weston's High Street Heritage Action Zone