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Architectural historians help city's £1.6m restoration project

Academics at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are part of a major project to restore the historic heart of the city.

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The Greyfriars area, a mix of Georgian buildings just a few steps away from the DMU campus, will be restored thanks to a £1.6million scheme announced this week.

Over the next five years at least 20 of the most historically important buildings in the area, close to Leicester Cathedral, will be regenerated.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the programme £1.1million while Leicester City Council is contributing a further £450,000.

DMU’s Digital Building Heritage Group – which can bring the past to life by re-creating buildings and uses cutting-edge computer design techniques – is part of this important project.

Dr Doug Cawthorne, principal lecturer in the School of Architecture, said the DBHG had been involved in the project from very early stages.

He said: “Student projects which have systematically analysed for the first time the architectural styles and forms of the buildings which make up this important but somewhat neglected quarter of the city and proposed new buildings that are in keeping with the old.

“The DBHG is set to play a continuing role as this major architectural and cultural project develops with further initiatives to better understand the existing urban fabric and future potential of this area.

“The aim is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the historic Greyfriars area of Leicester by preserving, restoring and enhancing its buildings and its public realm.”

The DBHG have already worked on projects to help people better interpret Leicester’s history by creating a fly-through video of Greyfriars Church – where Richard III’s body lay after he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth – for the Richard III Visitors’ Centre.

The five-year programme will focus on buildings in New Street, Millstone Lane, Friar Lane, Wycliffe Street and parts of St Martins and Peacock Lane.

Property owners will be able to apply for money to repair building fronts, to restore lost architectural features such as original windows, fencing and decorative masonry, or to bring empty space back into use.

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City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The Greyfriars area is one of the city’s architectural and historical treasures.

“The generous support from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help us restore important examples of the city’s built heritage and invest in making the area even more attractive to visitors.”

The scheme will also include a programme of events and activities to promote a wider understanding of the history of the area and its buildings. 

Posted on Friday 15th May 2015

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