Liz truss MP visits Swaffham to see the regeneration of the historic town centre

1st June 2023

On Friday 26 May, Liz Truss MP joined Historic England and Breckland Council to see how the Swaffham High Street Heritage Action Zone is helping people care for, revitalise and enjoy their historic town centre. Cliveden Conservation were present during the visit to explain about the conservation work being carried out.

Set up in 2020 by Breckland Council and Historic England, the High Street Heritage Action Zone is delivering more than £380,000 of government funding, alongside £305,000 additional investment from the Council and local funding of £140,000 which brings the total to £825,000.

Ms Truss was joined by Tony Calladine, Regional Director for Historic England, and Cllr Paul Claussen, Executive Member for Economic Development at Breckland Council, on a tour of the High Street Heritage Action Zone.

As part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone, the Grade II listed Assembly Rooms, built in 1776, are undergoing repair and restoration work, led by Cliveden Conservation. Exterior restoration work, including urgent roof repair, is currently underway to return the building to its former Georgian glory.

The Assembly Rooms restoration project is benefitting from £160,000 in grant funding from Historic England, Breckland Council, the Iceni Partnership and Swaffham Town Council.  A focal point in the town for over 200 years the restored building, which will be repainted in a sympathetic conservation paint scheme, will continue to be a landmark local building and important community resource for years to come. Ms Truss saw the restoration work underway and met the skilled craftspeople working on the project.

Ms Truss also met with volunteers from the local cultural consortium and heard about the vibrant events they’ve hosted as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone, including a programme celebrating the work of archaeologist Howard Carter (including a community archaeological dig and the creation of a mosaic pyramid) and a recent Coronation cream tea which brought together more than 1,300 people for a memorable community event.

On the tour, Ms Truss saw improvements to areas around the historic Buttercross, with new trees, planters and benches creating an attractive area for people to spend time.

Swaffham’s rich history

Swaffham town centre’s Market Place has a rich history dating back to key trading routes at the end of the Roman period. The landmark Buttercross, which forms a central focus to the Market Place, was gifted to the town by George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford, in 1783. There are more than 30 listed buildings in the High Street Heritage Action Zone area.


Liz Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, said: “Swaffham residents are rightly proud of their historic town from the Pedlar of Swaffham to the Buttercross, and the Swaffham High Street Heritage Action Zone will make a real difference locally. Restoring the Assembly Rooms is a particularly important aspect of this project, which will only serve to renew local pride as the restoration work gets done.”

Tony Calladine, East Regional Director, Historic England, said: “It was a privilege to visit the Swaffham High Street Heritage Action Zone with Ms Truss and our colleagues at Breckland Council, and to see the fantastic work that is being done to encourage people to visit and spend time in the town centre. It’s been really energising to meet so many people who are not only involved in the work of the High Street Heritage Action Zone but have passion and ambition about making a difference for their town. Swaffham’s historic character shines through the work of this important project.”

Councillor Paul Claussen, Executive Member for Economic Development at Breckland Council, commented: “Working in collaboration with Historic England and local partners we are helping to coordinate and deliver essential funding to protect the town’s wonderful historic buildings and reenergise the town centre, supporting local business and ensuring the rich culture in Swaffham is protected for years to come.”

Lewis Proudfoot, Managing Director, Cliveden Conservation said: “Swaffham Assembly Rooms is an important building for the local community, and we’re pleased to be playing a part in its regeneration. Cliveden Conservation are really proud of our collaborative involvement in three Heritage Action Zone projects across the UK, the other two being in Reading and Dunstable.”

Sue Gattuso, Swaffham Cultural Consortium, said: “I would like to thank Ms Truss for her interest in meeting with some of our volunteers who had taken part in our cultural programme for the High Street Heritage Action Zone.  It was wonderful to show the dedication and collaborative hard work of the townspeople in organising and joining in these community events which have been so successful.  We’re looking forward to welcoming people to more events this year.”