Printing heritage centre among plans for £1.8m restoration grant

Penicuik Town Hall is earmarked for a makeover. Picture; Ian Georgeson
Penicuik Town Hall is earmarked for a makeover. Picture; Ian Georgeson
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A PRINTING heritage centre could be set to open its doors in Penicuik – celebrating a paper-making industry going back to the early 18th century.

It comes after an application from Midlothian Council to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) saw £1.8 million set aside for restoration work to be carried out in the town centre.

Council officials have now been given an initial £114,000 to develop proposals for the Penicuik Heritage Regeneration Project over the course of the coming year.

If final approval is secured next year, the project will then span over a five-year period and is set to include building repairs and work to spruce up shop fronts.

Penicuik Town Hall is among those earmarked for a facelift and there are also hopes to restore a Bridge Street building and turn it into a printing heritage centre.

Jim Bryant, Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said the cash would be “a fantastic opportunity to work up exciting proposals that will revitalise and enhance the town centre”.

He said: “The £114,000 will allow us to work with communities in Penicuik and heritage experts to pull together further details of exactly how we would spend, if successful, the £1.8 million in the town.

“Projects will include improving the historic ‘core’ around Penicuik High Street, restoring and renewing shop fronts, public realm works and providing training in traditional construction skills for local apprentices and school pupils.”

The money comes as part of the HLF’s Townscape Heritage programme, which offers grants of £100,000 to up to £2 million for local organisations to carry out repairs to historic buildings.

Streets in Penicuik which would see the benefit of such repairs would include the High Street, The Square, John Street, West Street and Bridge Street.

A spokesman for Midlothian Council added: “This regeneration project would represent a significant investment in Penicuik town centre, helping to improve the experiences of shoppers and other visitors, as well as for local residents.

“Similar successful projects have recently been carried out by the council and partners in Dalkeith and Gorebridge.”

Penicuik is one of ten conservation areas across the country announced today to be receiving a share of a £17 million Lottery Fund pot.

Ken Brown, vice chairman of Penicuik and District Community Council, said the grant was welcome news for the town.

Mr Brown, who is also treasurer for Penicuik Historical Society, said: “It would be good for the town itself.

“The town hall used to be the centre of Penicuik but it’s not the centre anymore because of all the housing that’s been built.

“It would bring people to the old centre of the town again where all the shops are.”

Ros Kerslake, HLF chief executive, added such conservation projects could “have a powerful effect not only on local pride but also on local economic prosperity”.

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk