Worcester’s railway arches are set to be transformed into a major new cultural destination for the city, providing a hub for business and creative skills development.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright MP, has today awarded £3m in funding to this ambitious £4.5m project, from the Cultural Development Fund. This is a new DCMS / Arts Council England fund that focuses on developing the economic impact of creative industries, arts and heritage.

The funding will be used to create a new key gateway for the city, following the line of the Victorian arches from Foregate Street railway station to The Hive and the river Severn.

Eight of the arches will be refurbished, becoming dynamic work and creative spaces, transforming the area into a modern, 21st Century workplace for creative industries, and a cultural destination for tourists and local communities.

A leadership and entrepreneurial skills programme will be developed to encourage graduates and others to seek pathways into employment and business start-up, with 67 new jobs being created and over 500 training places.

A Festivals Hub will be established in the arches, delivering festivals and cultural events across Worcester. The Festivals Hub will support festival organisers, encouraging skills development and volunteer opportunities in the creative industries.

The arches will also host an information point for tourists visiting the city, and continue to be a thriving vibrant home for independent retail and food offers.

The project will include improvements to the environment of the arches area, including new lighting and surfacing of the walkway, as well as key infrastructure including electricity and plumbing to the spaces that will be created within the individual arches.

The funding bid was successfully prepared by Worcester Cultural Partnership, which will match it with a further £1.5m.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “Creativity, arts and heritage make our towns and cities unique and our communities better places to live. With clear plans in place, this funding has the potential to make Worcester a more exciting place to live, work and visit, attracting further investment and creating jobs. This is an incredible opportunity for Worcester to build on its industrial heritage to create a vibrant cultural hub for the local community.”
Councillor Marc Bayliss, Leader of Worcester City Council, said: “Revitalising Worcester’s historic arches is a key part of our vision for the city centre, and I welcome this funding that will help us unite our city’s heritage and its vibrant future. The arches will become a key skills training base for the city, a cultural hub, tourist destination and a new pedestrian key route.”
Revitalising the arches to provide a new pedestrian walkway from Foregate Street railway station is a key part of Worcester’s draft City Centre Masterplan, which is currently under consideration by the City Council.