Two key buildings in Folkestone’s Creative Quarter are about to welcome new occupants following comprehensive renovation as part of the Folkestone Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) funded by £1.3million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
These are the former “Millets” shop, 18 – 24 The Old High Street and 23-29 The Old High Street, identified respectively as “critical” and “priority” properties to bring back into life. These buildings are historically significant but have been vacant for some time. Thanks to National Lottery players, their restoration and refurbishment has not only brought them back into to use but has also extended their useful life for many years and will allow the residents of and visitors to Folkestone to enjoy them again.
Pringle Richards Sharratt Architects worked through a number of proposals for the redevelopment of these properties before arriving at a solution that met the approval of the project partners. In addition, the new extension to no. 23 to 29 The Old High Street helps mark and provide a new gateway to Payers Park, which was redeveloped in time for the 2014 Folkestone Triennial.
The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust has committed nearly £40 million to the regeneration of buildings in the Creative Quarter to date.
The Folkestone THI Initiative’s project team is led by Richard Piper, who is responsible for engaging with owners of eligible properties in the area covered by the initiative. Folkestone THI’s partners are Kent County Council, who led the bid process, Shepway District Council and the Creative Foundation. Further details are available at www.folkestonethi.org.
Kent County Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Sean Holden said, “This is a project which is about lifting the spirit of Folkestone and, through that, its economy. The very visible physical restoration of distinctive buildings and places through grants to owners is part of a new story of Folkestone which says it’s a good place to visit, to work and to do business – and it’s not even an hour from London.”
Shepway District Council Deputy Leader Cllr Jenny Hollingsbee said, “Folkestone’s Creative Quarter is a successful hub of creative industry and innovation, which in turn benefits the whole district of Shepway. The location of the Creative Quarter within Folkestone’s charming and historic old town is a perfect backdrop for the creative businesses that chose to locate here. I am delighted to see the care and attention that has been put into restoring these historic buildings. I’d like to wish the new business owners every success in the future.”
Chief Executive of the Creative Foundation, Alastair Upton said: “This part of Folkestone has been transformed over the past ten years by the development of the Creative Quarter, and these two long anticipated refurbished buildings and their new tenants will add to our efforts of improving the townscape of Folkestone and making the town a better place to live, work, visit and study. New tenants for these properties include new shops, such as Steep Street a Parisian style bookshop-café, Suzie Abbott, Concept and the Chocolate Pot. The flats will be occupied by creative tenants including three artists, a writer and dressmaker.”