Thousands of empty buildings in central high street locations are to be converted with funding from the government, bringing them back to life and attracting future investment.
A £95m regeneration fund has been raised by the government to spend on refurbishing and revitalising 69 high streets across the UK. With £52m coming from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Street Fund, £40m from the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport’s Heritage High Street Fund, and £3m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the money is expected to drastically transform the target areas.
The focus will be on repurposing empty and disused spaces in central locations, creating shops, offices and creative spaces as well as much-needed housing. The money is expected to “support wider regeneration“, according to the government, by encouraging private investment in the future as areas begin to show more promise.
Protecting UK heritage
Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Our nation’s heritage is one of our great calling cards to the world, attracting millions of visitors to beautiful historic buildings that sit at the heart of our communities.
“It is right that we ensure these buildings are preserved for future generations but it is important that we make them work for the modern world.”
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick declared his intention to keep high streets at the heart of local communities.
“This funding will revitalise much loved historic buildings, helping to reverse the decline of our town centres,” he said. “Ensuring that prosperity and opportunities are available to everyone in this country, not just those in our biggest cities, is a priority.”
Investing in high street property
Property developers and investors are playing a major role in the regeneration of the country’s high streets, as they come together to refurbish prime high street shops abandoned by local businesses.
BuyAssociation has found that residential developments in central areas are currently especially popular among investors due to their positions in established locations. Its most recent projects in regional cities and towns in particular have seen huge interest, such as Stone Cross House in Bolton and The Sorting Office and Station Terrace – both sold out – in Preston.
“Property investment does not need to involve clearing vast areas and replacing them with glamorous skyscrapers,” BuyAssociation’s Sam Hadfield said.
“Investing in a conversion in an established area means that all the fundamentals are there, the infrastructure is already in place, while construction times are also generally much shorter.”
He added: “There is often an established rental community in these areas as they are in existing neighbourhoods, often in prime central locations, while price points can be lower, too.”
BuyAssociation’s latest project in Reading, The Residences, also involves the sympathetic renovation of an iconic high street department store. Read more about it here.