Britain brings historic buildings back to life

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-10 03:18:42|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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LONDON, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- New life is being breathed into thousands of old buildings across Britain thanks to mushrooming coffee shops, cafes and bars, a report published by a cultural watchdog revealed.

Historic England said there has been a rise in the number of businesses moving into buildings officially listed for their historic or cultural value.

Research carried out by Historic England looked at 50 cities and town centers in England, and found that the number of listed buildings occupied by businesses has increased by 18 percent since 2012, from 10,465 to 12,353.

All across England, around 142,000 businesses operate in listed buildings.

Pub chains top the list of branded retail occupiers of listed buildings, closely followed by large coffee chains.

There has been a surge in well-known food and drink brands trading from listed buildings since 2012, with their number increasing by 173 percent to 4,754.

Historic England said their findings, detailed in a report marking Heritage Day on Dec. 7, also show a rise in the number of commercial businesses operating from listed buildings, up 50 percent to 36,749 in 2018.

Businesses in professional and non-professional services and the creative industries, including advertising, architecture, art, crafts, design, fashion, film and music, are also choosing historic settings.

"A survey of commercial occupiers of listed buildings found that for two-thirds of respondents (69 percent) historic buildings convey a positive image to customers and clients. According to the report, the value and comparative advantage of historic buildings arise from the 'cache' of these often unique places that are full of character," Historic England said.

Examples include the restored Toffee Factory in the Lower Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle, now home to digital and creative businesses. The valley, once home to coal, glass and pottery industries, is today an established hub for cultural industries.

In Manchester, Canada House, a Grade II listed edifice built for a major textile company in Art Nouveau style, is today a co-working space with meeting rooms, a cafe, a gym and a swimming pool.

Michael Ellis, minister for arts, heritage and tourism, said: "The increase in businesses trading from listed buildings shows that heritage remains at the heart of our high streets and society. It proves that these buildings are not just attractive but also adaptable to the modern world."

"We are committed to promoting and protecting the nation's historic architecture and through our 55 million pound (71.1 million U.S. dollar) package for heritage on the high street, will work with businesses to help breathe new life into our listed buildings."

The report also reveals that converted historic properties aged at least a 100 years have provided 51,110 new homes since 2012, taking the total number to 5,105,080. Historic properties are now the second largest provider of new housing stock in England, A fifth of all residential stock in England was built before 1919.