Leeming Street makeover 'will bring shops back to life'

Leeming Street is in line for a huge cash injection to restore old buildings to former glory. Photos courtesy of Denis Hill.
Leeming Street is in line for a huge cash injection to restore old buildings to former glory. Photos courtesy of Denis Hill.
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A £900m fund to restore a Mansfield street could finally bring the old Boots building back into use.

Mansfield is to benefit from almost £1m of Heritage Lottery funding to restore the historic features of a town centre street.

The street used to be characterised by the tram route and classic shop signs.

The street used to be characterised by the tram route and classic shop signs.

Leeming Street, which has some of the best historic buildings in the town, is being given the funding to restore how it looked in the early 20th Century.

Owners of the iconic Georgian Boots shop at No. 11, which has been empty for years, are hoping the fund can finally bring the building back into a usable condition and see it open for trade.

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Heritage consultant Denis Hill who submitted the grant application with Mansfield Businesses Improvement District, said: "Many other parts of Mansfield are in pretty good condition but Leeming Street has been neglected. Most of the buildings on the street are over 100 years old and as many were knocked down and replaced they've become a mish-mash of properties, and it's started to look rather cluttered. With it being a conservation area we want to take them back to their original design and re-create that original small shop atmosphere."

The old Boots building has been disused for years.

The old Boots building has been disused for years.

The money from the Townscape Heritage programme will 'return a lot of shop frontages to the original construction', with the aim of conserving architecture and improving the local economy.

Leeming Street has suffered from numerous empty shop fronts in the past – recent figures from Mansfield District Council show some 14 per cent of business spaces in the centre are vacant, including the old Boots building and several others nearby.

Denis added: I've done some work with a private consultant on the old boots building and the owner is looking forward to this grant money becoming available to take advantage of it and get the property back in full swing again.

"The townscape money will work towards the shop frontages and he would love to see it taken back and see a business move in."

View of the Boots building as it used to be. Courtesy Denis Hill.

View of the Boots building as it used to be. Courtesy Denis Hill.

Denis said some of the shops had restoration work done several years ago, the result being that part of the street looked superior to others so restoration will create more uniformity in the street.

He added: "The other facet of the project is the community involvement and we're involving schools, the college and the general public to research the history and put some historical interpretation into the properties, such as small plaques to outline what they used to be used for and perhaps a town trail to teach about the history. It helps to build respect for the area."

Mansfield is one of ten areas in the UK to receive funding from the £17 million pot, as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund's '50 years of conservation areas’ scheme.

The grant follows an unsuccessful application for National Lottery funding two years ago.

View from the West Gate end.

View from the West Gate end.

The town has so far received a development grant of £72,500 to conduct architectural plans and costing studies before the full fund is received and work can begin, probably next year.

The street changed again in the 1960s.

The street changed again in the 1960s.