Historic England on high street resilience in Derby and Nottingham

View of Iron Gate with corner of Saddler Gate and Derby Cathedral in background - East Midlands Business Link

Future Cities Forum has been speaking to Clive Fletcher, Historic England's Principal Advisor and Lead Specialist, Historic Places, about the current opportunity to re-purpose heritage buildings for shop and office space in the economic regeneration of towns and cities.

The UK government in its 'build, build, build' announcement last June, called for a radical change to the planning system suggesting that new regulations would give greater freedom for buildings in our town centres to change use without planning permission. Builders it said would no longer need planning permission to demolish and rebuild vacant commercial buildings if they were rebuilt as homes. A building used for retail would be able to be used for a café or office without requiring a planning application and local authority approval.

Clive told Future Cities Forum that in his opinion converting the upper floors of heritage buildings is easier to deliver than new build, with less risk and more available finance:

'My experience is that the space above shops is very flexible, often great spaces that are not used and a better performance in terms of carbon footprint. However, they are usually tatty and difficult to let but the money needed to convert them sensitively is often modest.

'We have tended to lose bits of heritage in town centres and cities over the decades and t