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High Street Regeneration and Rethinking Town Centres

The much-publicised decline of the UK’s High Streets is resulting in a growing number of vacant buildings. Places now need to reimagine and understand their function and what draws people and communities back into village, town and city centres. The old saying that “the greenest building is the one that is already built” has never been more fitting, and embodied carbon should be at the centre of every decision surrounding whether to retrofit and re-use or demolish and replace old buildings.a group of people listening to a tour guide in the courtyard of the Piece Hall

In 2020 Heritage Trust Network was commissioned by the Architectural Heritage Fund to deliver ‘Open High Streets: Transforming Places Through Heritage’ in partnership with Locality. This was a 3-year programme of learning and networking events that took place in person and online, forming part of the our Heritage Fund supported Unlocking the Power of Communities project.

There were 20 events in total, 15 online and 5 in person. The in-person events were day conferences featuring panel discussions, case studies and tours at the Piece Hall, Halifax; Oxford House, Bethnal Green, London; The Old Market Hall, Devonport; the Salt House, Lincoln and Moseley Community Hub at the School of Art in Balsall Heath, Birmingham. The online events featured panel discussions and case studies on a plethora of topics from finding the money and adopting alternative business models to the importance of community engagement and working collaboratively.

852 delegates attended the Open High Streets events between 2020 and 2022.

“The case studies, learnings reported were so very insightful. I touch typed 9 pages of notes!”

Since 2022 we have been developing and improving our programme of events that focus on high street regeneration and have seen our audience widen to include many more Local Authorities.

“I came from a local authority, and it was good to see the other side of the coin in terms of what people are looking for when dealing with local authorities and the barriers they face”

In 2023 the programme came under the umbrella of our Heritage Fund supported Essential Networks (development phase) project. This enabled us to expand the programme into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and we delivered in person events in Manchester, Reading, Stirling, Haverfordwest and Lurgan. There were also 6 online events and the whole programme attracted 366 delegates over 12 months.

In 2024 we are delivering 4 in person events in Wakefield, Paisley, Derry/Londonderry and Newport followed by 4 online events. You can book tickets on our events page and watch recordings of some of our previous events on our YouTube channel.