Image demonstrating Hexham visit highlights progress on the High Street Heritage Action Zone. 

Hexham visit highlights progress on the High Street Heritage Action Zone. 

The Chief Executive of Historic England, Duncan Wilson has paid a visit to Hexham to meet and talk to partners involved in a scheme to restore and rejuvenate the historic heart of the town. 
Hexham High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) is part of a £95 million government-funded programme led by Historic England which is designed to secure lasting improvements and rejuvenate historic high streets. 
The nationwide scheme supports local authorities to unlock untapped potential in places that are rich in history and historic fabric to help them thrive and improve the quality of life for communities and businesses. 
During his time in the town, Mr Wilson was given a hard-hat tour of the Coach and Horses Inn, which dates back to the 1800s, to see the restoration work that is underway there, funded in part through the High Streets Heritage Action Zone Building Grants Scheme. 
He then viewed the plans for the proposed improvements to the public realm along the high street which will also be funded through the HSHAZ. 
The party then toured the high street to view the HSHAZ area and properties in the Priestpopple, Cattle Market and Battle Hill areas of the town. During the tour, NCC Conservation Officers were able to point out to Mr Wilson the properties for which grants have been awarded or for which applications to the scheme are in process. 
The fact-finding trip culminated in a visit to the Queen’s Hall to discuss the work that has taken place around the cultural programme and to engage the local community in the history of Hexham. 
Mr Wilson was particularly impressed by the Hexham Cultural Network’s plans for an Illuminated Sheep project which will be happening in Hexham and then throughout Northumberland later in the year. 
Duncan Wilson said: “It was great to visit Hexham and see the progress being made as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone. 
“Our heritage not only tells the story of our past, it acts as a catalyst to help interesting and beautiful places, like Hexham, to thrive and flourish. 
“Through the Heritage Action Zone scheme, we are working with our partners to help revitalise Hexham’s historic centre - making it a more attractive, engaging and vibrant place for people to live, work, invest in and visit.” 
The Hexham HSHAZ has been developed by Northumberland County Council and key partners and is backed by a wide range of community and business stakeholders.  
Councillor Jeff Watson is cabinet member for culture at Northumberland County Council and accompanied Mr Wilson on his visit. 
He said: “The momentum for this scheme is really starting to pick up as work starts around the town. Work is underway to restore the Coach and Horses Inn, there is a heritage lighting scheme underway, and we are working on a scheme to improve the streetscape too. 

“Our collective aim is to make the most out of the historic environment, create a sense of pride and to leave a legacy for future generations living in the town.” 
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