Shops, shopping centres and the built environment
The pattern of land use in most British towns and cities includes buildings from several different phases of retailing development. Some of these still offer their original function (for example, churches and cathedrals), but most have been renovated or converted to meet changing needs. The realisation that a building's structure and fabric has become obsolete can lead to reduced expenditure on maintenance, progressive deterioration and subsequent dereliction. Eventually, it may be most economical to simply demolish the building and redevelop the intrinsically valuable site. However, prior to the Second World War, changes in most British towns were slight and incremental. Developments were frequently vertical rather than spatial as new construction methods such as steel-framed buildings, and new technical advances such as lifts and escalators made multi-storey retailing practicable.