Gravesend Historic Port

©English Heritage
Revitalisation of Gravesend. The historic environment plays a positive role for wider regeneration
©English Heritage

Region: South East

Owner Type: Many

Funding Body: EH and HLF CAPS; HERS

Year of Intervention: 1995 - 2002

Summary: Gravesend Historic Thames riverside port- building confidence in undervalued heritage through the aid of Conservation Area Partnership schemes (CAPS) and Heritage Economic Regeneration Schemes (HERS).

Description: Gravesend’s economy was traditionally based on industries such as cement and paper manufacture. In addition, there was considerable economic activity associated with the river through a variety of shipping- related trades.
Issue: As these industries declined so did the area’s economic prosperity, and the town of Gravesend was further hit by the construction of Lakeside and Blue water shopping centres. A major consequence of these economic changes was the deterioration of many significant historic buildings, with knock-on effects on the visual amenity of the living and working environment of the area.
Strategy: The economic fortune of Gravesend as the major town in the Borough is considered vital to the health of the Borough as a whole. For this reason, Gravesham Borough Council is leading the local community programmes of measures to revitalise the town of Gravesend and the Borough as a whole, including the establishment of a Town Centre Initiative and a variety of partnership schemes to bring investment into the area. English Heritage and Gravesham Borough Council have been working in partnership since 1995, with an EH CAPS scheme running for the first three years, followed by an HLF CAP scheme from 1998 to 2001. The first CAPS concentrated on Gravesend town centre, while the second continued this work and branched out into the east end of Northfleet. A HERS for central Gravesend has been underway since October 2001. The aim of the overall heritage programme is to build a critical mass of confidence by focusing on heritage as a key asset. Heritage funding for this scheme totalled £897,818 and was supplemented with a further £4,668,110 of partnership funding.
Outcome: The HLF CAPS scheme achieved a number of notable successes. It focused on three major improvement projects, namely The Pier, Berkley Cresecent and West Street. In addition, the programme covered small scale enhancements such as improvements to shop fronts, as well as environmental improvements such as new paving. The first year of the Gravesend HERS work was dedicated to preparatory work including a major survey of 30 listed buildings. This has produced evidence for a series of historically accurate enhancement and repair proposals for the buildings. The Council’s Regeneration Team has been working to introduce owners of properties to HERS and to promote the results of the survey work. In addition, they are working with owners of the properties to determine appropriate actions on buildings requiring major repair and restoration. It is anticipated that considerable benefit in terms of private sector investment and enhancement of the historic environment will result. However, confidence is still delicate and, in an area where property prices are low and the cost of building work is high, the continuing involvement of heritage grant funding is vital.

Keywords: Funding, Regeneration

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