- Sir Oliver Heald reveals what he loves about the high streets in North East Hertfordshire as Historic England asks the nation, “What do you love about your high street?”
- New survey shows that 73% of people say that their local high street is important to them
- Historic England wants to have a conversation with the nation about what the future of high streets could be at this pivotal moment in their history
- From Monday 20 September, people can share what they love via social media using #HighStreetLove in a week of celebration about our treasured local places
- The results will provide insight into what the nation loves and wants more of from our high streets, which are often the historic centre of communities
Today Historic England is asking people in North East Hertfordshire “what do you love about your local high street?” as the first part of a national conversation on the future of our high streets. Sir Oliver is encouraging people to get involved.
From Monday 20 – Sunday 26 September, the public body is asking people to share what they love about their local high street on social media. Whether it’s the memory of the place you bought your first ever album, a shop that’s become part of your weekend routine, or a place you go to meet friends and family, Historic England wants to hear about it. Those stories will come together to build a national picture of what makes high streets so special and to learn what matters most when it comes to their future.
Historic England commissioned YouGov  to find out how people are feeling about their local high street. 73% of people said their local high street is important to them, 54% of people feel pessimistic about their local high street’s future and 40% feel motivated to take action to help their high street’s future. And 71% of people said that they feel personal interactions are important when visiting the high street.
New research for Historic England  shows that 92% of people care what their high street looks like and 90% agree that it’s worth trying to save historic features when trying to improve local places.
Later in the conversation with the nation about the future of high streets, Historic England will be seeking to find out what people value about their high street and their hopes for its future. Having crowdsourced this information, a programme of discussions and commissions will be created to further explore what high streets could be and look like in the future, all with the aim of empowering people to take action for their local high street.
Sir Oliver said:
“What I love about Buntingford High Street are the great independent shops like the cheese shop and the two butchers. I also enjoy meeting people when I have a coffee at the café.
What I love about Royston High street are shops such as Richard Rolph’s pet supplies shop, Barbara’s Flowers and the Cycle shop and the new Food Centre at the Cross end, which is a real hit. I enjoy meeting people as I walk in the High Street and having a chat.
What I like about Baldock High Street is the width and grandeur and the friendly shops like Days and Chapmans and the places to meet or have a chat. I often hold surgeries at the Community Centre.
What I like about Leys Avenue are the Town Square and the many shops and eateries nearby. I can remember events for shoppers and many political gatherings there with campaign stalls and leaflets, particularly in General Elections. The fountains and artwork have also made it a great space for families.
Let’s make sure that Historic England hears from North East Hertfordshire by getting involved.”
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: “Throughout history high streets have been our gathering places; centres of commerce, conversation and community. They help make where we live unique and special. Nearly half of all high streets were built before 1919. They are one of the most visited and enjoyed types of heritage in the country, a connection to our past and a key to our future. We know they are struggling, and their future is uncertain, and we think this is a timely moment to ask people about their future and consider the part we can all play in supporting these important places.”
The conversation will take place on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn from Monday 20 September (00.01 BST) until Sunday 26 September (23.59 BST).