Insights

Historic Opportunities

How heritage-led regeneration can drive town centre change

01 Dec 2021
Our historic high streets have been dominated for decades by retail uses, and while retailing is still an integral part of what they offer, the pressures facing traditional retail have resulted in the average vacancy rate nationally rising to just under 14%. This has left many high streets in need of regeneration and investment. Fortunately, they have huge potential for improvement, adaptation and reuse, and many benefit from heritage assets that can serve as focal points for town centre regeneration.
Historically, town centres and high streets were places where communities would live, congregate, learn and work, not just shop. They were built to support a diverse range of uses and they are very well positioned to do the same in future if investments are made in restoration and reuse. Indeed, repurposing redundant floorspace offers exciting opportunities to rebalance what our historic town centres have to offer.
This Insight aims to shed light on the environmental, economic and social contributions that heritage-led regeneration can make to our historic town centres and high streets. It also reflects on how heritage-led regeneration is currently being delivered, increasingly as an embedded part of wider investment programmes, and the factors that can determine its effectiveness.