Transforming places through heritage programme: Interim report

This 2021 report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport presents interim findings from the Architectural Heritage Fund’s Transforming Places through Heritage (TPtH) programme. It maps the programme’s success against five ‘critical success factors’: helping make high streets fit for the future; to protect historic buildings; to build local capacity; piloting innovative, alternative uses; and maximising positive social impacts around restoring historic buildings. Case studies are provided throughout.

Date added 14 December 2021
Last updated 14 December 2021

This report presents interim findings from the Architectural Heritage Fund’s Transforming Places through Heritage (TPtH) programme. As the authors explain, the programme “supports projects led by charities and social enterprises that have the potential to contribute to the transformation of high streets and town centres in England. It is funded by... the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and is part of a wider initiative to revive heritage high streets in England” (p.5).

Specifically, this report covers findings from the period to 30th September 2021, during which 224 grant offers were made amounting to over £9 million, benefiting 167 charities and social enterprises and 184 different building projects across England. The report maps the programme’s outcomes to date against five identified ‘critical success factors’ (p.7):

1. “To maximise regeneration benefits of local areas and high streets, assisting in making high streets and town centres fit for the future”

  • The programme has sought to invest in places where there is a High Streets Heritage Action Zone (28%) or Future High Streets Funding (32%), to co-invest in places where place-based regeneration is underway.
  • Case studies provided: The Buttermarket and Mining Exchange, Cornwall; and Stanley Halls, Croydon.

2. “To protect, enhance and safeguard historic buildings across England, offering viable new uses for disused and under-utilised high street properties”

  • The programme helps to facilitate community ownership of historic high street and town centre buildings.
  • 45% of the projects supported through TPtH funding were enabled to secure ownership of a historic building.
  • Case studies provided: The Branch, Chipping Norton; and Provision House, Dudley.

3. “To build capacity within local community groups, social enterprise and charities”

  • Data suggests 68% of recipients of TPtH funding believe it had enabled capacity building in their organisation.
  • The funding has been beneficial in helping organisations to gain and retain skills in fundraising, project development and carrying out historic building projects.
  • Case studies provided: The Marlowe Kit, Kent; and The Arcade, Dewsbury.

4. “Piloting innovative, alternative uses, ownership structures and investment models to facilitate long term regeneration”

  • This will be achieved through the pilot Heritage Development Trusts (HDTs) initiative, with four pilots underway since December 2019 (the below cases).
  • The pilot cases have made achievements such as recruiting new staff, conducing multiple repair, restoration and conservation projects, and purchased historic buildings.
  • Case studies provided: Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust; Historic Coventry Trust; Tyne and Wear BPT; and Valley Heritage CIO.

5. To maximise the positive social impacts around restoring historic buildings”

  • 49% of the projects funded through the programme to date are located in the top 20% most deprived communities in England.
  • The programme aims to support projects which create more ‘social infrastructure’ through repurposing historic buildings, in turn creating more sustainable high streets and town centres for these communities.