GRADE II listed buildings on a street blighted by empty units will be the first to benefit from a £2 million scheme to boost Bradford's heritage buildings.

The Bradford City Centre Townscape Heritage Scheme is a National Lottery funded scheme that was set up to restore neglected buildings in the city's "top of town" area to their former glory.

The first buildings to benefit from the fund are 14-16 Rawson Place.

The late Victorian, four-storey buildings have modern ground floor frontages, with one having gaudy decals covering the windows, while the upper floors are currently semi derelict.

Thanks to the new grant the building's owners, Frost Hill Investments, restore the period features on the shop units, which will remain in retail use, and convert the upper floors into flats.

The four year scheme is being delivered by Bradford Council and supported by £2million of funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Lottery cash would help bring some of city centre's forgotten buildings back to life

Owners of properties in the Bradford City Centre Conservation Area, which includes North Parade, Rawson Place, Darley Street, Northgate, Piccadilly, Upper Piccadilly, Duke Street and James Street, are able to apply to the fund. If successful they are given financial support to carry out works to their building that might not normally be financially viable.

14-16 Rawson Place is part of a complete Victorian terrace and was designed in 1888, by Fairbank & Wall Architects for Charles Heppleston, a local businessman who had turned property developer.

Architect Benjamin Dalby Fairbank was twice the president of the Bradford Society of Architects and Surveyors which was founded in 1874, and is still in existence today.

The shop, C. Heppleston & Son was a longstanding hardware store and toy dealer on the corner of Rawson Place and Rawson Square.

Original architectural drawings submitted for approval by, what was then, the Bradford Corporation still exist in the West Yorkshire Archive Service.

At the time, Bradford Corporation used various Improvement Acts to clear parts of the area of poor quality buildings and badly planned streets, and sold the land in lots in the latter years of the 19th century, to make the city a better place to live and work.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and transport, said:

“It is wonderful that our Townscape Heritage grant awards will preserve the ‘Top of Town’s’ precious architectural heritage.

“This first grant award for Rawson Place will ensure that a 130-year-old building is brought back into full use, and in a condition that will ensure it will be conserved for many years to come.

“This £2m programme is part of our wider regeneration approach to the area including the £21m market and public square on Darley Street and the longer term development of the City Village where the Oastler Centre currently sits.

“This will help restore and renew the ‘Top of Town’ as an exciting and integral part of the city centre.”

Richard Middleton, Townscape Heritage Project Officer, said: “During the first year of the Townscape Heritage scheme, over a dozen projects have been developed with property owners, but grant awards can only made once a project is ready to start on site.

“We are delighted to be able to award our first grant in this scheme and look forward to working with the owners on this project.”