High Street Heritage Action Zones

This online resource from Historic England concerns the £95 million government-funded High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme. It shows where Heritage Action Zones (HAZ) are located in the UK, providing a map where you can search for HAZs near you. Short case study examples of high streets included in the project are also provided. It is useful for anybody interested in heritage and culture on the high street.

Date added 9 November 2021
Last updated 9 November 2021

This resource concerns the High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme, which is being delivered by Historic England. It shows where Heritage Action Zones (HAZ) are located in the UK, providing a map where you can search for HAZs near you. It is useful for anybody interested in creating and preserving heritage and culture on the high street.

As the resource explains, the HAZ project is a £95 million government-funded programme, which is designed to “unlock the potential of high streets across England, fuelling economic, social and cultural recovery and breathe new life into it for future generations”. More than 60 high streets are included in the project and offered funding, with lead partners in each place (typically local authorities), working with Historic England to design and deliver schemes to “transform and restore disused and dilapidated buildings into new homes, shops, work places and community spaces, restoring local historic character and improving public realm”. An additional £3 million of funding is being provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support related cultural programmes on the high street.

Short case study examples of high streets included in the project are also provided in this resource, three of which are summarised below:

Bedford high street

  • Bedford high street is located “in the late Saxon/Medieval settlement of the town and is of considerable archaeological significance. It retains the architectural character of a prosperous market town”.
  • Facing a series of challenges such as declining footfall, safety concerns, lack of civic pride, and high volumes of traffic.
  • The HAZ work aims to improve the local environment and public realm, reduce traffic flow, create a sense of community, and “reinstate the high street as one of the architectural high points of the town, revealing and enhancing historic features on buildings”.

Chester Rows

  • This HAZ focuses on the Chester rows, which are a unique “...system of half-timbered galleried walkways that run above the street level shops” originating in the 13th Century. They are a “...surviving element of the Roman fortress and... have strongly influenced the form and layout of the surrounding city”.
  • Facing a series of challenges such as changing shopping patterns, rising vacant spaces in the rows, and some buildings falling into disrepair.
  • The HAZ work aims to physically improve shop frontages, fill vacant units with a diverse range of uses, and bring the rows back to life through a range of cultural activities to attract a more diverse community.

Plymouth high street  

  • The high street is located in Plymouth's city centre, which is “an outstanding example of post-war planning and modern architecture...”
  • Facing a series of challenges such as declining footfall, population deprivation, lack of mixed uses and a high proportion of retail space which is being subject to decline.
  • The HAZ work aims to enhance awareness of 20th Century architecture through public engagement, and a programme of cultural activities to celebrate the area’s cultural heritage.