The Prince of Wales’s 70th birthday is being celebrated by an ambitious scheme to create community regeneration projects across the UK.
Dubbed “7 for 70”, the initiatives range from the £5 million restoration of Coventry’s Drapers’ Hall to creating a centre celebrating Wales’s heritage, craft and culture at the Strata Florida Abbey ruins and nearby farm complex in Ceredigion.
Spearheaded by communities and supported by the Prince’s Foundation, the seven projects will focus on landmark buildings, whether neglected, needing a new use or requiring construction, and be completed by the end of 2021.
The foundation will provide expert help in areas such as fundraising and navigating planning rules, and a key aspect will be training locals in the skills needed to save the buildings, so they directly benefit.
The templates for the project were the community schemes successfully completed by the foundation near Dumfries House in Ayrshire, the 18th-century Scottish country mansion Charles helped save.
New Cumnock’s open-air pool and town hall were renovated a few years ago in collaboration with the former mining community, decimated by the closure of its pits in the 1960s, following appeals to help save the local assets.
In a forthcoming BBC documentary marking his 70th birthday, which falls on November 14, Charles is filmed visiting the pool and says: “Well, the poor old thing was in a bit of a state, you know, it was very dilapidated, but much loved by all the local community.”
He adds, joking: “It had had some enormous sort of hole in the bottom, which would have sucked people down – quite extraordinary – well, we redid it all again.”
The Queen has already unveiled the first of the “7 for 70” to be completed, the Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavilion in Royal Deeside, Scotland, which will open to the public next year and showcase the history of the Highland Games.
At the time of its launch in September, Robert Lovie, the foundation’s director of outreach, said: “Visitors to Braemar from around the world will have the opportunity throughout the year to immerse themselves in Highland Games history.
“The collection of artefacts and items is really impressive and is sure to prove a big draw for those with an interest in Highland Games as well as act as an informative resource for those who are not as familiar with traditional Highland sports.”
Coventry’s Grade II* Listed Drapers’ Hall will be restored in time for the city’s tenure as City of Culture in 2021, providing a musical performance space and education facilities for training Coventry’s young musicians.
It is hoped the regeneration of the Strata Florida ruins and farm complex in Tregaron will help the local economy by creating jobs through craft skills training, archaeological excavations and visitor amenities and education.
Another project will see students design and build a garden folly in the walled garden, due to open next spring, at Northern Ireland’s Hillsborough Castle.
All the properties in the scheme will be owned and run by the local community or bodies, with funding coming from the foundation, local organisations and communities, and other sources.
– Prince, Son And Heir: Charles At 70 will be screened on BBC One on Thursday at 9pm.