High Street Culture
Find out what’s coming up in our four-year programme of cultural activity across England's High Streets Heritage Action Zones, continuing until 2024.
Within Chester's wider regeneration plan, the High Street Heritage Action Zone will bring vibrancy back to this special part of the town by bringing empty spaces back into use and introducing cultural initiatives to attract a diverse community to the Rows.
The Chester Rows are unique in Western Europe. This system of half-timbered galleried walkways that run above the street level shops, to give access to a second tier, has origins in the 13th century, but has been added to and rebuilt over the following centuries. Meeting at 'The Cross', the rows are a surviving element of the Roman fortress and as Chester's four main streets, they have strongly influenced the form and layout of the surrounding city.
Within the rows over 300 commercial businesses operate, which are a mix of national and local retailers, independent outlets and community spaces. But over the past several years the Rows have suffered a downward spiral of decline because of changes in shopping patterns, growing numbers of vacant shops and buildings falling into poor repair. Some areas of the once bustling Rows are completely deserted.
With £1.08m of Government funding, delivered through Historic England, the High Street Heritage Action Zone will sit within Chester's wider regeneration plan to bring vibrancy back to the town's heart. Shop fronts will be physically improved and a diverse range of uses will be sought for the empty premises, with key anchor units filled as a priority.
Working with partners such as the University of Chester and local arts and community organisations, as well as local residents, the Rows will be brought back to life with a range of cultural initiatives to connect a more diverse range of communities, allowing people to understand and appreciate how special the Rows are and how much they have to offer the city.
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