Kirkwall Townscape Heritage Initiative
Visitors to Kirkwall might have noticed a number of renovation projects taking place in and around its main streets.
The majority of the works are part of the five year Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme, aimed at helping regenerate the built environment of Kirkwall’s conservation area.
The £3.5m project has been funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and Orkney Islands Council and will run until June 2019. It’s a similar scheme to the Stromness THI, which came to a close in 2014. Grants are available for property owners to carry out repairs and restoration work and to bring vacant buildings back into use.
The KTHI is designed to help property owners meet the increased costs associated with carrying out repairs using historically accurate materials and techniques.
Part of the scheme will also provide training initiatives to promote skills and involvement in the care of Kirkwall’s built heritage. It’s hoped this will ensure a long term supply of local contractors with the ability to repair traditional stone buildings.
The aim is to regenerate the centre of the town for the benefit of local people, businesses and visitors.
A number of buildings have been identified as priorities under the scheme, including the former Carnegie Free Library on Laing Street. The new owner is going to open a retail business that will include a coffee shop, gallery and music venue. Work will start this year with an official opening scheduled for 2017.
Another important project is the restoration of the Old Storehouse on Bridge Street Wynd into a restaurant with rooms. The scheme now has planning permission and work will begin later this year. The significant investments made by local businesses will help secure the future of these two important historic buildings, as well as creating jobs for local people and providing two new attractions for Kirkwall.
The Townscape Heritage Initiative also hopes to promote more knowledge and understanding of Kirkwall’s historic buildings. Two rooms at the Orkney Museum on Broad Street will be refurbished as part of the THI, creating new Medieval and Viking exhibitions to help tell the story of the evolution of the town. It's anticipated these will be ready in time for the 2017 visitor season. New digital visitor information will also be available at St Magnus Cathedral next year too. Visitors will be able to access details on their mobile devices as they walk around the building.
There have been three building grant funding rounds already - anyone still interested in improving their properties within the Kirkwall Conservation Area can find out more from Orkney Islands Council’s dedicated Kirkwall THI pages or by contacting the team at:
Kirkwall THI, 15 Victoria Street, Kirkwall, KW15 1DN
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone – 01856 886 468
Have a look at our gallery below showcasing some of the work being carried out in Kirkwall as part of the THI scheme.