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HTVF – Supporting Historic High Streets: Changing Visions for Town Centres #3

24 June - 12:00 - 14:00

Continuing our popular series on Supporting Historic High Streets, this series of webinars will explore the future of city and town centres, the stores that once anchored them, and the role of place-making.

Well before the pandemic, the High Street’s battle against out-of-town and online shopping was in full flow, and ideas about adding leisure activities and a wider range of experiences and uses were coming to the fore. High streets have always reflected our built and social heritage – attracting trade and customers to the latest places, and creating centres to share ideas or just people-watch. Yet in recent years, the characteristics of ‘clone towns’ have predominated, with towns vying for the same high street chains to take retail space.

With the radical shift in footfall and spending patterns in 2020-21, this vision has crumbled and since the credit crunch years many more household retail names have closed, such as Laura Ashley and Debenhams. At the same time the public realm has acquired a new value and status, and the importance of place-making for everyone is evident.

This webinar will look the opportunities and potential threats presented by the 2020 change in Use Classes (and those coming in 2021) to rethink the role of town centre retail space and how to bring life back to historic high streets.

For professionals and communities alike, this is an important theme in the debate about future town centres.

Delegates will learn about:

• The new profile of town and city centres – footfall, spending patterns and vacancy rates

• Strategies being adopted by local councils, land owners and developers to manage this shifting market

• The role of place-making in attracting people back to high streets as places to move about and linger

• The range of other uses taking up vacant shop units and city centre buildings to bring change

• The role of local heritage assets and social history in reclaiming ‘clone’ towns, and

• The 2020 changes to Use Classes and amendments in July 2021 introducing far greater flexibility in town centre uses and activity.


Speakers on Thursday 24th June:

• Introduction: Chair – Christina Duckett, Principal Conservation Officer, Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council

• Changing Use Classes, Matthew Sobic, Director, Savills

• Repurposing Gloucester’s Debenhams as a new student venue, Stephen Marston, Vice Chancellor, University of Gloucestershire

• Meanwhile in Oxfordshire – developing temporary uses across five local authorities, Emma Gordon, Director, Make Space

• Bury St Edmunds: Rescuing The Old Post Office, the community view, Peter Riddington, Chair of Bury St Edmunds Town Trust and Consultant, Donald Insall Associates

• Bury’s Old Post Office: Developing proposals for a new future, the architects’ view, Tanvir Hasan, Deputy Chairman, Donald Insall Associates.

Courses and events across the built and historic environment sector. (Mobile users scroll down for calendar and categories)