Folkestone & Hythe District Council has welcomed news that the future of one of the area’s best-loved heritage sites is looking secure.

The Folkestone Leas Lift has been awarded a development phase grant of £344,828 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, giving the lift charity two years to complete further works and to raise further funding of £400,000.

The team can then apply to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the second phase grant to develop and restore the lift in its entirety.

Cllr David Wimble, F&HDC Cabinet Member for the District Economy, said: “This is an important next step in the project to get The Leas lift running again and we look forward to the planned consultation and engagement with the local community.
“Congratulations to the members of the volunteer board for their hard work in securing this grant – it is an important step for them and the district as a whole.”

Cathy Beare, Chair of the Folkestone Leas Lift Company CIC, said: “Success at the development stage of the National Lottery Heritage Fund is an endorsement of our plan to expand the site and ensure a sustainable and inclusive future for the lift.
“We are grateful for the support from Folkestone & Hythe District Council in the form of a £10,000 grant which funded work to hone the business case and fundraising strategy.”

The Grade II* listed lift was built in 1885 to transport people between The Leas, the beach and promenade. It was closed in 2017 by the Health and Safety Executive and since then, the funicular railway and building have further degraded. In October 2019, they were placed on the heritage at risk register by Historic England.

The Folkestone Leas Lift is one of the few remaining water-balanced lifts in the country and will be the third to be in operation when it reopens.

The Leas Lift board aims to bring the best 21st-century facilities to the heritage site, including a new café, building on the success of the existing café, which opened last year, and a space to hold community events. A programme of heritage engagement
activities will be delivered through outreach and on-site visits and activities.

Anyone interested in helping with fundraising for the lift – and having a fun time – can take part in the Leas Lift Lockout escape rooms: www.leasliftlockout.co.uk

The centre, which opened in July, is one of 43 projects to receive support from the Folkestone & Hythe High Streets Fund, which runs until 31 March 2022.

For more information, go to: https://bit.ly/3EOwchO

By Ed

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