MARKET TRADER, MAY 10 - 23, 2019 Businesses benefit from historic premises
A new report published recently by Historic England explores how business owners and operators based in historic buildings feel about where they work. With data sourced from busi-
nesses all over the country, the survey highlights the range of ben- efits – and some challenges – faced by businesses operating in listed buildings, and identifies where more support and advice would be useful. The Survey of Listed Building Owners 2018 was sponsored by specialist insurer Ecclesiastical. More than 500 businesses in sectors including retail, hotels, food and drink, as well as professional, technology and administration were surveyed. The sample spanned those who own and rent premises, and chains as well as independent businesses.
With nearly 9 out of 10 businesses polled reporting satisfaction with their premises, this year’s report examined the benefits they derive from choosing a historic building as their base. Nearly two thirds of respondents
felt their premises enhanced the business, with respondents in the hospitality sector the most positive. The top benefits cited relate to the external appearance of the building and its local context. Above all other benefits, respondents identified the fact
that their own historic building contributes to the positive atmosphere of the surrounding area (a ‘great benefit’ according to 72 percent of the sample). Respondents also cited the
fact that their building provides an attractive exterior that gives a positive first impression to their clients and customers. Feedback gathered for the study indicates that businesses appreciate that a historic streetscape with a unique local character can attract customers and boost footfall, and businesses understand the valuable role their own individual building plays as part of that wider environment. Taking Whitby as an example,
one business operator explained: “People come down this street; they come to Whitby, they come to the area because of the history, the heritage, it’s all wrapped up in a bigger parcel, it’s not so much the shop.” Another shop owner in London
said: “The building has a lot of character, it’s part of the fabric, the old streets of London. It doesn’t look like a glassy, bland, corporate street.” Historic England has long
championed the idea that well maintained historic high streets and townscapes can bring great advantages to local businesses, as well as the community at large. Studies demonstrate that
investment in the historic fabric of towns and cities brings economic and environmental benefits, making places more attractive to businesses and giving local people a sense of pride about their area. This is the rationale behind
the government’s recent pledge of £40m to revive historic high streets around the country. Many respondents to
the survey cited the strong sense of community that exists amongst businesses who sense they work in a well-loved spot, with added advantages linked to the fact that these special places are often found in the most central locations. Those most likely to cite a
The Strand in Derby city centre’s conservation area, where a parade of shops built in the 1880s has been restored (Photo: Historic England)
direct commercial impact derived from operating out of historic build- ings were in the hospitality sector, with respondents highlighting the importance of the beauty and atmosphere of their premises.
While for most, the positives for working out of a historical building outweigh the negatives, businesses did identify some drawbacks. At the top of the list were
restrictions on either extending premises or making changes to the exterior – a particular challenge
for hotels and food and drink businesses. Businesses also highlighted their
concerns around disabled access, with many expressing their desire to facilitate better access but finding the nature of their building (and in some cases planning restrictions) a frustration. Many businesses have
responded creatively, finding solutions with portable ramps or separate entrances, and working in collaboration with neighbours to provide the access and facilities they need. Other concerns relate to operating
in city or town centre locations where access and parking is often restricted.
Businesses also cited the
challenge of quirky internal layouts, and highlighted how important a supportive landlord is when it comes to proactive maintenance, with local authority landlords coming in for some criticism. The overwhelming message, however, is that most businesses feel fortunate to occupy a historic building and treat it as an asset and an integral part of what they offer. In this context, issues they encounter are niggles, not deal breakers.
HUGHMARK 2019 EPSOM/DERBY/OAKS FESTIVAL Now booking
FRIDAY, MAY 31st & SATURDAY, JUNE 1st, 2019. Fabulous crowds. Sorry no catering.
Contact: Hughmark – www.hughmark.co.uk
By phone 01189 451799.
Regular market list:
Basingstoke Top of the Town Market – every Wednesday and Saturday Cheap rents. Require: footwear, sweets, swag, cheeses and catering.
Ramsgate Town Centre Market – every Friday and Saturday Require: menswear, children’s wear, kitchenware, bedding and meat.
Tadley Country Market – Sunday Require: catering.
Kempton Park Market – every Thursday Require: most lines considered. In season Kempton Market is the largest midweek out of town market in Southern England.
Bracknell Town Centre Market – every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday Very busy. Food only.
Didcot Broadway, Oxfordshire – Friday Market Require: butcher, fish, farm shop and cheeses.
Folkestone Town Centre Friday’s and Saturdays Very busy all year round. Require most lines including butcher and fish.
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