OVER £1.2 million of government funding will go towards creating an arts house in Otley Street, youth markets on the high street setts, a public square in Coach Street and Skipton Town Hall into a performance venue, district councillors have agreed.

Members of the council's policy committee have agreed to accept a share of a £95 million funding pot from Historic England to revitalise the nation's high streets.

Skipton's share, totalling £1,278.480 will progress the Skipton High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) initiative and Craven District Council will act as the accountable body for the funding.

Speaking at the latest policy meeting, Councillor Simon Myers, lead member of Enterprising Craven, said: "It is very exciting. It will deliver the Skipton (HAZ) and is unashamedly about Skipton."

Cllr Myers said the initiative, though centred on the town through the HE grant, would, benefit the whole of Craven by creating arts events and other projects, as well as promote community engagement through events.

The town learned of its successful bid for a share of the grant in September.

Policy committee members were told the overarching theme of the Skipton HAZ was to 'start the process of changing the profile of users of Skipton town centre towards a greater focus on young people and families' and make it more walking and cycle friendly.

Pedestrianising some areas and encouraging more accommodation in the high street was also suggested.

The projects include Skipton Town Council's aim to create a youth market, the artistic and cultural developments through Great Place and the work of Craven Civic Society to improve the heritage value and accessibility of Coach Street.

The report to committee from David Smurthwaite, strategic manager for planning and regeneration, stated younger people needed to be encouraged to the town centre in order to change the appearance of the area and to 'drive the demand and supply of products'.

His report added: "The increasing number of large redundant heritage buildings risks causing blight on the high street so we aim to bring these back into use to attract younger people to live, work and visit the town centre."

Councillor Peter Madeley said he was concerned for the future of the current market stating people were leaving and wanted to see a plan to improve it.

He also said he was keen to see a cultural hub established which would be modern and attract the young, not just the 'blue rise brigade'.

Councillor Patrick Mulligan said getting involved in arts culture through an Otley Street hub would help create a link for young people between the town and Leeds which is now home to Channel 4 while Councillor Andrew Solloway said improving the pedestrian experience was 'welcome' and said we should make use of our heritage buildings.

Councillor Linda Brockbank said: "It is good forward planning and something to build on." She said she was particularly keen on establishing a youth market and said the market in Bentham was declining.

Policy committee chairman Councillor Richard Foster welcomed the report saying it was important to get young people living in the town centre.

A breakdown of the grant would has been detailed showing £258,480 spent on a performance venue at the town hall, £150,000 on Coach Street public square and improving its accessibility, £35,000 on ginnels (making safe routes linking the high street to secondary retail areas and which are currently unlit, litter-strewn and have uneven surfaces), £85,000 on creating youth markets on the setts and £600,000 on an Otley Street Arts House.

The Arts House, geared towards a centre for 'young creatives' providing affordable housing, studio/work space and display space, is earmarked to be sited in the NYCC owned former Otley Street Community Centre which the district council has been looking at purchasing. It is not believed the grant would be used to purchase the building.

Other parts of the funding would go on community engagement - £30,000, digital interpretation - £25,000, project management - £90,000 and heritage designation - £5,000.

The programme is spread over four years and Heritage England have made it clear they want the design to cover four threads - community engagement, physical intervention, conservation and heritage and a cultural programme.