Heritage funding of £1.78m to redevelop Gosport town centre including new cultural hub

MAJOR investment is set to bring new life to Gosport town centre as government heritage funding of £1.78m has been confirmed.

Gosport Borough Council and Hampshire Cultural Trust have been developing an ambitious plan to regenerate the historic town centre, with Gosport High Street set for several improvements and works.

Now funding for the plan has been confirmed from the High Streets Heritage Action Zones programme, run by Historic England, and it will be a major plank of Gosport's economic recovery from the virus outbreak.

Empty historic buildings will be redeveloped to provide housing, community spaces, restaurants, offices and shops.

Old Grammar School in Gosport which will be redeveloped into Gosport Museum and Art Gallery. Picture by Joe Low

The scheme will also aim to develop the cultural life of the community, including redeveloping the town's Old Grammar School into Gosport Museum and Art Gallery.

This new cultural hub will be a draw at the top of the High Street and provide heritage, arts, education and culture for local residents and visitors.

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Paul Sapwell, chief executive of Hampshire Cultural Trust, said: ‘The Old Grammar School building has provided education, culture and heritage in Gosport for over 100 years. It has long been our ambition to develop this historic building into a cultural centre that sits at the heart of the community.

‘With this funding, that of other donors and our own investment, we can now realise our vision to turn it into a place where the town’s people and visitors can come together to enjoy and celebrate the arts, education, heritage and culture.’

Other proposals in the plan include encouraging more restaurants and night-time entertainment venues, revamping the town centre market, holding more arts and performance events in Lawrence Square and Walpole Park and creating a hub to train residents looking for a career in customer services or hospitality.

Councillor Mark Hook, council leader, said: ‘We've been working towards this for some time and confirmation of the funding is wonderful news. It's even more important now, as our town centre reopens and we start to rebuild the borough's economy after the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

‘We have a unique town centre which needs investment and new ideas to ensure it's attractive and vibrant, so local people and visitors have lots of reasons to be there.’

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