SCOTLAND's historic high streets and town centres are to get a £10 million boost.

The cash injection is due to be announced by the Scottish Government today. and is to be spent over the next five years.

The Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes grant is designed to breathe new life Scotland's localities and their "sense of place".

It will be administered by Historic Scotland, the Government agency charged with safeguarding the nation's historic environment.

It has remit over 345 significant properties such as Edinburgh Castle, but this money will be spent on people's everyday surroundings.

The announcement comes ahead of the heritage agency's annual conference and launch of its new corporate plan in Glasgow this week.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "People live with their surroundings, day in and day out, and part of this is about their sense of community well-being, and how valued their town and their place is.

"Scotland has a really strong sense of place, and it matters a great deal – there is something about that sense of place, your immediate surroundings, and the sense of their worth, and if they are deteriorating, the sense that they are not being valued.

"These grants are crucially important - yes, heritage is about celebrating our wonderful and elaborate history such as castles and famous buildings, but it is as much about our towns and streets."

The grant news comes at a pivotal time for the heritage agency. Historic Scotland was hit significantly in the last Scottish budget, with its funding cut from £47m in 20011/12 to £45m in 2012/13 and £35.7m in 2014/15, a reduction of 25%.

Historic Scotland believes it can save money through efficiency, working closer with organisations such as other environment bodies and local government.

Grant budgets have been held for the last five years at £14.1m a year, £12m of which is for buildings. However, membership figures are significantly on the rise – from 75,749 in 2006/7 to 114, 450 in 2010/11.

Crucially for the agency, income is rising too – from £17m in 2006/7 to £20.5m in 2011/12, with Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle being the most lucrative attractions.

Areas that have already benefited from the Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes (CARS) include Callander in Stirlingshire, Brechin in Angus, Dalkeith's park and high street in Midlothian, Kilsyth in North Lanarkshire, the Leith area of Edinburgh, Stornoway in the Western Isles, the high street in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, and Green Hill in Aberdeen.

Ms Hyslop added: "These grants have already made a huge difference in many areas, returning our historic communities to their former glory.

"They have meant that the architecture, building styles and traditional materials that make places like Brechin, Orkney and Campbeltown unique are properly preserved.

"By restoring our high streets and town centres we protect their distinct identities.

"The people who live, shop and work there benefit from it and so does the economy."

Funding can be used for repairs and improvements to private homes and businesses as well as restoring local landmarks. Property owners can apply for minor improvements such as restoring sash windows

Historic Scotland has awarded more than £16m under this initiative since 2007.

In Orkney, there is a CARS scheme in place through the Stromness Townscape Heritage Scheme.

James Stockan, a Stromness councillor, said: "It's just fantastic to see so many of our traditional buildings brought back up to scratch and back into use – in some cases from the brink of ruin – and now really shining out within the conservation area.

"These improvements have really raised the bar in the built environment in Stromness and we hope that people are inspired by the changes."

Local authorities have until August 31 this year to submit an application for the money..