A #1.5 million regeneration scheme is set to give buildings within Wellington's shopping centre a new lease of life.

The Townscape Heritage Initiative in the Shropshire town will see the restoration and renovation of up to 80 architecturally significant and economically important buildings in the centre, some dating back to the 15th century.

The scheme will part-fund work on commercial properties including external and internal structural improvements like roofing, guttering and brickwork.

Advantage West Midlands has contributed #335,000 to the project as part of its Market Towns Initiative, which has seen an investment of over #35 million in West Midlands market towns over the past three years.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (#450,000), Borough of Telford & Wrekin (#75,000) and Wellington Town Council (#30,000) have also contributed to the scheme with the remainder expected to be funded by the owners of the properties.

Like many similar small market towns up and down the country Wellington has experienced changing economic fortunes as the combined effects of out of town shopping and the use of the internet have become more widespread.

The aim of the Market Towns Initiative is to support and develop economic growth and physical regeneration work in such centres.

This, it is claimed, can have a marked effect on improving the attractiveness and ability to bring in visitors and encourage new investment.

The restorations will be overseen by a conservation officer who will provide technical advice and guidance to prospective investors.

Jon Payne, partnerships team leader at Advantage West Midlands, said: "This project will result in increased optimism and investor confidence which should grow and accelerate as the programme unfolds.

"It will also act as a catalyst for further investment in the town for years to come."

Rosemary Smith, market town manager for Wellington, said: "This is an exciting time for Wellington and the Partnership.

"The #335,000 contribution from Advantage West Midlands for the Townscape Heritage Initiative is a key piece in the jigsaw of funding which makes up the regeneration project for the town. The joint effect of this project, combined with the repaving work will be a huge environmental uplift for Wellington."

Rex Carson, casework manager for the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "The Townscape Heritage Initiative is a key Heritage Lottery Fund scheme which encourages pride in local buildings and stimulates regeneration in towns.

"Through this partnership buildings in Wellington will be restored to their former beauty and people will be encouraged to enjoy shopping in their local community."

Cllr. Charles Smith, deputy leader of the Borough of Telford & Wrekin, said: "The Council is committed to economic development throughout the borough and to supporting the well documented benefits of working in partnership." wellington