While the Kirkwall BID is working to keep the town centre vibrant and full of activity, another local initiative has attracted millions of pounds of investment to enhance some of Kirkwall’s historic buildings over the next few years.
The Kirkwall Townscape Heritage Initiative (KTHI) is a 5 year grant scheme focused on restoring the built heritage of the Kirkwall Conservation Area. It is hoped this will help regenerate the centre of the town for the benefit of local people, businesses and visitors. The scheme has been running since July 2014 and will conclude in June 2019.
With a budget of £3.445 million, mainly provided by Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and Orkney Islands Council, the KTHI will help to bring vacant space within the Kirkwall Conservation Area back into use, to fund building repairs or restoration of architectural details and to improve the streetscape and public spaces.
The initiative also supports training in heritage skills such as traditional building techniques, and promotes knowledge and understanding of Kirkwall’s historic buildings. This will include providing more public information about the town’s built heritage and involving local people in archaeological investigations of key sites in the town.
Like the Stromness Townscape Heritage Initiative, which brought significant improvements to the overall streetscape as well as restoration of individual buildings in the town, the KTHI is designed to help property owners meet the increased costs associated with carrying out repairs using historically accurate materials and techniques, which will stand the test of time.
Project Manager Richard Ritch says: “Work will soon be under way on some key sites in the town centre, and the restoration of these prominent historic buildings will make a real difference to the feel of the Conservation Area”.
The property repair grant has all been allocated, and will see buildings like the West End Hotel restored to their former glory. More funding may become available towards the end of 2015 and details of other high profile buildings which will benefit from grants will be announced soon.
More information about the scheme can be found on the Council’s website