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Why are older inner-city buildings vacant? Implications for town centre regeneration

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The historic precincts of suburban cities in New Zealand are characterised by partially occupied, vacant or abandoned buildings, which are located in key locations of the central business districts (CBDs). Increasing unoccupied spaces and low demand for older buildings are detrimental to the socio-economic growth of many provincial towns in New Zealand. The study discussed in this paper sought to: 1) investigate the proportion of totally/partially existing vacant older buildings within the town centre of suburb-#; 2) identify the underlying factors that contributed to emergence of the vacant buildings and the consequences of the prevalent vacancy rate on suburban town centres; and 3) recommend possible ways to increase the demand for these buildings. Using a mixed-methods approach for data collection, the research findings showed a vacancy rate of approximately 86 per cent (n = 47) of older heritage buildings located in the main high street of suburb-#. Additionally, several factors were identified to be responsible for the high vacancy rate of the older buildings: 1) building conditions; 2) social factors; 3) economic factors; and 4) building regulations. The research findings provided significant suggestions on how property redevelopment coupled with town centre regeneration can be used as a responsive strategy that can attend to the changing needs of owners, occupiers and visitors, as well as ensure compliance to commercial and regulatory demands of seismic strengthening of older heritage buildings.

Keywords: economic; old buildings; social; town centre; urban shrinkage; vacancy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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  • Journal of Urban Regeneration & Renewal is the essential peer-reviewed journal for all professionals concerned with physical, economic and social regeneration of urban communities. It publishes in-depth articles and real world case studies on the latest strategy, policy making and current and best practice in the field. Guided by its expert Editor and Editorial Board, each quarterly 100-page issue does not publish advertising but rather in-depth articles written by and for urban regeneration professionals analysing current and best practice in the planning, consultation, funding, delivery and long-term management of regeneration programmes, as well as the latest policy making, developments and research in the field.

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