A new funding bid could be submitted to build on the enormous success of a £3 million building conservation scheme in Berwick.
More than 30 historic properties in the Bridge Street and Castlegate areas have benefited from the Berwick Townscape Heritage Initiative and two area partnership schemes.
Funding has been levered in from the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage, matched by former regional development agency One North East, over the past four years.
There has also been an important input from landlords and owners who were required to fund 25 per cent of the repair works themselves.
“The scheme has been very successful,” revealed Annette Reeves, building conservation project officer at Northumberland County Council.
“It’s been a £3 million investment in 32 projects - 11 on Bridge Street, 16 on Castlegate and five in other parts of the town - which has made lots of subtle but significant improvements.
There has been a ‘top down’ approach to the structural repairs. Roofs, chimneys, stonework, water tables, windows and architectural features have all come in for attention along with the more obvious shop front restoration work.
“Quite a lot of the empty buildings which have been restored are now occupied, most dramatically many think with the fancy dress shop on Castlegate which is now The Retreat,” said Mrs Reeves.
“We’ve already had an additional year for the programme thanks to funding from the county and town council matched by English Heritage but that comes to an end in March 2015 and there is no chance of that being extended.
“However, I’d desperately love to start a new scheme on the back of this to keep the momentum going. The good thing is that we’re able to show potential funders how successful the work we’ve already done has been but the big problem is match funding which is difficult to come by.”
Councillor John Robertson said: “With county council and town council support we could draw in £500,000 which could maybe be used to take the scheme into Church Street, Hide Hill and Woolmarket. It could even be a good use of Portas money.”