APPG for Civic Societies highlights the importance of collaborative partnerships

As our town centres continue to face various challenges, it is more important than ever that we collaborate to find solutions and promote the value of our heritage high streets. 

On March 21st, the Civic Societies All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) hosted an event at which key stakeholders and policymakers shared their approaches to revitalising town centres. The event at Westminster's Houses of Parliament aimed to consider how we can ensure that all heritage high streets and town centres receive support and adopt strategies for meaningful community engagement.

The APPG is led by Craig Mackinlay MP, Sarah Olney MP, Rosie Duffield MP, Mark Garnier MP, and Wera Hobhouse MP supported this event. The APPG for Civic Societies was established to represent the civic society movement in Parliament and help make the movement’s voice heard. Interested parties can find more information about the group on their website: 

Representatives from Bromsgrove District Council, including Lyndsey Berry and Cllr Karen May, and other experts such as Kelcey Wilson-Lee from The Architectural Heritage Fund and Owain Lloyd-James from Historic England, and The Minister for Arts and Heritage from Department for Culture, Media and Sport Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay.

The event covered various ways to support and level up heritage high streets and town centres. With attendees from all over the country, from Cumbria to Devon to Folkestone, it demonstrated the national importance of these issues and the number of people who want to learn how to support their high street. It was commented that partnerships structures do not work for many places, and we need to find innovative ways to inspire leadership and collaboration.

Bromsgrove District Council discussed collaborative leadership and shared their vision of becoming a foodie town, highlighting their recent success in winning the Visa Awards. Lord Parkinson emphasised the importance of place pride and the role of communities in revitalising areas, and he encouraged people to participate in National Civic Day in June. The Architectural Heritage Fund emphasised the importance of heritage development trusts, while Historic England shared success stories from Heritage Action Zone projects in Hastings, Tyldesley, and Historic Coventry Trust - a clear demonstration that local authorities are not the only organisations on which we should rely to revitalise our heritage towns and high streets. It was explained that all High Street HAZ activities cover a conservation area, which is a good thing given that there are 501 conservation areas at risk, half of which are heritage town centres and high streets. When asked about the government's commitment to the Heritage Action Zone initiative, the Minister was non-committal. The Minister did praise the work of the High Street Task Force in raising awareness and providing assistance to local councils.

The event highlighted the importance of collaboration to find solutions and promote the value of our heritage high streets. Those interested in getting involved or learning more about the group's work in Parliament to promote town centres should visit: