Duo of conservation projects receive Heritage Lottery funding
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Duo of conservation projects receive Heritage Lottery funding

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Historic buildings in Northern Ireland will be restored and Kent's natural heritage will be secured after two projects won grants of more than £5m (US$6.25m, €5.8m) from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

With architectural heritage dating back to the 17th century,the Northern Irish town of Lurgan will receive £2m (US$2.5m, €2.3m) in support of initial proposals from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to restore and revitalise buildings within the town’s conservation area.

Today, many of the historic buildings in Lurgan have fallen into disrepair and are underused or vacant. The five-year heritage plan – dubbed the Lurgan Townscape Heritage project – will repair and conserve these buildings, bringing them back into use, breathing new life into the town centre and acting as a driver to attract additional investment to the area.

Alongside restoration works, a programme of events and activities is lined up, including town tours, storytelling sessions, a Blue Plaque scheme and traditional skills and crafts workshops.

“These plans will regenerate the historic streetscape and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Lurgan,” said Paul Mullan, head of HLF Northern Ireland.

“The heart of the town will be transformed and reimagined as a vibrant space for people to use, visit and enjoy, and we are delighted to be involved.”

In Kent, £3.65m (US$4.6m, €4.2m) will be used on three natural heritage projects across the county, with Guardians of the Deep and The Fifth Continent – both managed by the Romney Marsh Landscape Partnership – and The Old Chalk New Downs project to benefit from funding.

Guardians of the Deep is a three-year project that aims to engage communities, businesses and visitors by raising awareness of marine habitats and promoting an active and ongoing guardianship role to protect them for the future. The scheme will comprise five key activities which will involve upwards of 60,000 people in marine awareness activities.

The bulk of the funding for the Kent projects will go towards The Fifth Continent, which will receive £1.76m (US$2.2m, €2m) to restore and protect habitats and species across 242 sq km (93.4sq m) of low-lying coastal land in South Kent characterised by flat, windswept marsh containing the historic settlements of Winchelsea, Rye and Hythe and the shingle ridges of Dungeness.

Finally, The Old Chalk New Downs project, to be run by Kent County Council, will improve, restore and reconnect threatened chalk grassland habitats in and around the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding National Beauty – an area home to rare orchid species and black veined and straw belle moths, found only within the North Downs. The project, which is expected to last four years, will cover almost 100sq km (38.6sq m).

“These projects cover huge swathes of the Kent countryside,” said Stuart McLeod, head of HLF South East. “Thanks to National Lottery players, local communities and organisations will be able to discover, care for and protect these environments, and carry out vitally important work that may otherwise not be possible.”

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Historic buildings in Northern Ireland will be restored and Kent's natural heritage will be secured after two projects won grants of more than £5m (US$6.25m, €5.8m) from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

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