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.
Poole's spectacular setting is Poole Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world.
Once a small medieval fishing harbour, Poole has since developed into a commercial port with major maritime industries. Against the spectacular backdrop of Poole Harbour, the High Street forms the main link between the historic Quayside and the town centre. Poole is an established visitor attraction and has a lively sense of place with a mix of Georgian houses, fine Victorian commercial buildings and 1930s art deco shopfronts.
Poole town centre is experiencing a number of challenges. It has a high vacancy rate and its retail offer is characterised by low- to mid-market outlets. Footfall has declined dramatically in recent years, and is lower in winter than summer. The fabric of the High Street has also deteriorated. Many of its historic buildings are in poor repair and the public realm is tired and lacklustre. There has been a gradual deterioration in the quality of the retail environment, with shopfronts in disrepair and frontages blighted by inappropriate development and poor signage. There are wider social challenges too. Few people live in the town centre and there is no real evening economy, creating the impression of a place lacking vibrancy.
The award of up to £625,000 to Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council will deliver a Heritage Action Zone focussed on the High Street to the Quayside, forming part of wider regeneration plans for Poole town centre. The Heritage Action Zone will fund repairs to historic buildings and bring vacant buildings and upper floors back into use, especially for creative start-ups. It will also fund improvements to the public realm and pedestrian routes to make the town centre more attractive and accessible. It will also support a cultural programme involving partners including Poole Light House, Arts University Bournemouth and Poole Museums, who will devise creative ways to celebrate Poole and bring new activities and audiences into its historic heart.
Repairs are planned or under way at a number of historic buildings on Poole High Street.
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