Tuesday, July 9, 2013

News: Rotherham's regeneration recognised by English Heritage


Rotherham has been highlighted by English Heritage for the way in which heritage-led regeneration can help revitalise town centres despite a backdrop of testing economic times.

English Heritage works to protect and promote England's historic environment and ensure that its past is researched and understood. It has published a report this week on how the changing face of retail and shopping is impacting on historic town centres.

Undertaken for English Heritage by Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners, in conjunction with Strutt & Parker and in partnership with the Historic Towns Forum, the report has identified a series of places across England where innovative approaches have achieved successful outcomes.

In the section on smaller-scale development in historic areas, Rotherham is used as a case study where the local authority and other partners have intervened to reinvigorate historic shopping streets.

A key part of the wide-ranging Rotherham Renaissance programme, the historic character of the town's compact centre was used as a positive asset in promoting the town.

Projects include the successful restoration of the Imperial Buildings. The Edwardian, Grade II listed building at the top of the High Street has had extensive repairs and improvements made, as well as the introduction of living space above the ground-floor retail units. It is now a vibrant part of the retail offer with all but two units occupied by mainly niche, independent businesses.
The impressive floodlighting of The Rotherham Minster and associated public realm works is also mentioned. As is the £3m Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) scheme that sees property owners and long term lease holders secure grants enabling them to restore, renovate and repair their historic buildings which are all within a conservation area. Supported by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Rotherham Council, the aim is to encourage new shops, apartments and businesses to locate in the town centre.

Work is continuing by local businessman, Chris Hamby to create a complex of mixed-used retail outlets focusing on listed buildings on the High Street.

It is one of a number of initiatives that has led footfall being up by 6% in one year and the town being one of 27 areas to be named as a "Portas Pilot" securing a further £100,000 of government funding to support the high street. £268,000 was recently awarded to Rotherham as part of the government's High Street Renewal Award.

Baroness Andrews, chair of English Heritage said: "The challenges are not to be underestimated, but English Heritage believes that local authorities that have made the historic environment central to their retail "offer" can go a long way to creating an attractive and viable high street.

"At a time when people are increasingly looking for more to their shopping trips, these success stories show how investing in historic buildings and careful and imaginative use of street patterns in our historic towns and cities, creates successful "destinations", places which attract people because they make shopping a much more pleasant and enjoyable experience."

Rotherham town centre website
English Heritage website

Images: RiDO / RMBC


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