Boost for St Peter's Church and the Old Black Lion

Partners and Stakeholders met today at St Peter's Church, Northampton for the announcement of the award of a first stage pass of £156,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to further develop the business case which if completed successfully will lead to a grant of £1.6 million to develop the church and the adjacent pub, The Old Black Lion. The funding comes as part of HLF's new Heritage Enterprise scheme and this is one of the first projects in the UK to be awarded the funding.

St Peter’s Church dates from the 12th century and is one of the best examples of a Norman church in the county . Its sits next to The Old Black Lion Pub, a 17th century inn that claims to be the oldest pub in Northampton. Originally the Plasters Arms, the pub was burnt down in the great Northampton fire of 1675 and restored as the Old Black Lion in 1720.

Led by CCT, the project aims to breathe new life into both buildings, enhancing the area’s tourism offer. The pub’s outbuildings will become a heritage visitor centre, creating new conference and meeting facilities, whilst the redeveloped pub building will become a pub-restaurant with a more sustainable business model. Sympathetic landscaping will also be carried out to improve the area’s attraction.

As a result of HLF’s investment, the project will potentially create 26 full time equivalent  jobs. The amalgamation of the site into one ownership as part of Northampton’s Gateway will be a catalyst for regeneration, attracting investment and jobs to the neighbouring Innovation Centre and surrounding Enterprise Zone.

The project is a partnership between CCT, Northamptonshire County Council, Northampton Borough Council, West Northamptonshire Development Corporation, the University of Northampton, the Friends of Northampton Castle and the Friends of St Peter’s and All Saints Church.  The project will also seek a commercial partner to run the pub-restaurant operation.

Peter Aiers, Regional Director for The Churches Conservation Trust, commented: “It is an honour to be amongst the first awardees of the new Heritage Enterprise Grant. St Peter’s is one of the best examples of a Norman church in the country and sits within an area that is rich in history. We look forward to working with our local partners to make this project a success.

Leader of Northamptonshire County Council, Councillor Jim Harker said: “It’s excellent news that the Churches Conservation Trust bid for funding from the HLF Heritage Enterprise Scheme has been successful. Developing the Old Black Lion Pub is a key part of the Northampton Heritage Gateway project, which will celebrate the town’s rich history with a focus on the former Northampton Castle site and the surrounding area, both enhancing this route into the town and acting as a catalyst for further economic regeneration.""

Councillor David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council said:  “Bringing St Peter’s Church and the Black Lion Pub into the Heritage Gateway is an important step in showing how our history is not just tied to one site or a single event. Through the Heritage Gateway residents and visitors will discover our rich and fascinating history.”

Heritage Enterprise addresses ‘market failure’ - where buildings have previously failed to attract investment or realise their commercial potential because the cost of repair has meant that - until now - they were not commercially viable. The Lottery investment bridges that financial gap. It will specifically help fund vital repairs and conservation works to historic buildings, converting them into safe, usable and inspirational spaces for new businesses. By doing so, this Lottery grant will help remove one of the key obstacles currently standing in the way of regeneration by transforming neglected buildings into productive enterprises that will create local jobs and generate wealth.  

Heritage Enterprise launched with the publication of the first ever comprehensive analysis of how businesses across the UK use historic buildings. New ideas need old buildings revealed the positive impact historic buildings have on the UK’s economy and their proven ability to contribute to growth. The key findings of the analysis demonstrated a commercial business based in a historic building generates more wealth than is the average for the UK economy as a whole.