Back to Life
What is the back to life project?
There are lots of unused spaces in our town centre, from empty shops to sealed-off upper floors. This project aims to bring those spaces back to life through developing guidance and case-studies, undertaking feasibility investigations and provide grant support for building work. We’ll also be working to identify creative new uses for spaces in our town centre.
Why is the project needed?
Across the country, town centres are changing. The way we shop has changed over the years and the High Street is no longer as dominated by retail activity. To remain an important, vibrant part of our community some physical changes are needed to help the town centre keep up. In previous decades retail space has been really valuable, so building owners have created as much retail floorspace as possible, often at the expense of secondary entrances and staircases to upper floors. Those upper floors have languished unused or used only for storage. With many national chains closing down or reducing their number of shops there has been an increase in larger empty retail units. It’s important to find new uses and breathe new life into these buildings. Some new uses may encourage people to the High Street, from innovative new retailers to leisure activities community uses to arts and culture. In other places we’ll be able to create new living accommodation, increasing the resident population of the town centre to help keep it vibrant. Some spaces may be able to foster new business activity and innovation. Whatever the activity, we aim to see new life in our old buildings that stand empty or underused.
How can I get involved?
If you are the owner of a building in our core investment area that has unused space that could be suitable for a new use then we’d like to hear from you. We’re particularly interested in historic buildings or more modern buildings which have the potential to have a significant positive impact on the conservation area. Grants of up to 20% of of eligible costs are available. If your would like to find out more please read our guidance and submit an expression of interest form here.
High Street Case Studies
To test some of the potential for repurposing unused spaces around town we have commissioned a series of case studies, looking at how town centre buildings could be more comprehensively utilised, and how different uses could help bring them back to life. You can download the case study reports below.