Robin Walker MP has welcomed the news that Worcester will receive £3 million from the government’s Cultural Development Fund to help drive local economic growth through investment in culture, heritage and the creative industries, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has announced today.

Worcester Cultural Partnership will use the funding to restore and redevelop eight historic Victorian railway arches running from Foregate Street rail station to The Hive and the River Severn, and transform them into affordable workspaces for creative businesses.

Building on the city’s history and heritage, the project will improve accessibility, transform the area into a modern space for the creative industries and develop a new tourist destination with independent food and retail outlets.

The £20 million Cultural Development Fund has been launched by the Government to use investment in heritage, culture and creativity as a catalyst for regeneration. Towns and cities were invited to bid for funding for local cultural plans tailored to their strengths and needs.

Late last year, Robin supported the launch of the Government’s flagship Open Doors project, which is set to link landlords who own vacant retail units with local community groups to provide vital services for the youth and the elderly.

Robin has welcomed the imaginative vision put forward by the Communities Secretary in tackling the social and economic challenges local communities face to transform much-loved British high streets into vibrant community hubs of employment, socialising and retail.

The potential of this project is vast, and provides an essential opportunity to reignite a community spirit up and down the country for everyone, but especially for the most vulnerable.

Following today’s announcement of funding, Robin said:

“The news of £3million in funding to develop eight new work and creative spaces is fantastic, and will only serve to further enhance the city. I have long been a supporter of reviving the high street nationally, but believe that we are especially lucky in Worcester to have such a vibrant, open and bustling high street. Residents and visitors to Worcester alike will know that the faithful city has a long and colourful past, and it is most welcomed that the Government has recognised this and committed funds to restore and renovate unique elements of the city’s structure.

“I very much look forward to the beginning of the works, and I am excited to see how the spaces will be used.”

“This news is especially welcomed as Worcester continues to improve and thrive, notable through the launch of the Open Doors project and the hugely successful Christmas retail period which saw an increase in footfall on the high street in the city when most across the country saw a decrease. Furthermore, the city has recently been selected for a 75% one year Government business retentions rate pilot scheme worth over £4million in County revenue; a testament to the County Council and their District Council partners for their collaborative hard work and contributions.”

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said:

“Creativity, arts and heritage make our towns and cities unique and our communities better places to live. With clear plans in place, this funding has the potential to make Worcester a more exciting place to live, work and visit, attracting further investment and creating jobs.

“This is an incredible opportunity for Worcester to build on its industrial heritage to create a vibrant cultural hub for the local community.”

David Blake, Managing Director of Worcester City Council, said:

“This funding will help us transform Worcester’s railway arches into a key gateway for the city and a hub for business and creative skills development. The arches will become a vibrant destination linking the riverside and our city centre, and host a base dedicated to organising festivals and cultural events for the whole of Worcester.”

Worcester designed plans to strengthen the local arts sector, increase cultural access and provide greater opportunity for people to forge creative careers in the region.

The city’s funding will be used to create new cultural festivals, support skills development and provide volunteer opportunities for the local community. It is expected that the funding will help support more than 60 new jobs and more than 500 people will benefit from skills training.

The fund was announced in the Creative Industries Sector Deal last year, and marks a step change in how the Government is investing in culture.

It forms part of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy which has seen more than £150 million jointly invested by Government and industry through the Creative Industries Sector Deal to help cultural and creative businesses across Britain thrive and consolidate the country’s position as a global creative and cultural powerhouse.


Notes to editors:

For more information on the Cultural Development Fund, please see:

For more information on the Open Doors project, please see:

For more information on the opening of Sir Thomas White Court, please see: