House of Lords Asked to Recognise the Value of World Heritage for Post-Covid Recovery

Announcement, News
A selection of our exceptional World Heritage Sites

The UK’s 32 World Heritage Sites should not be viewed as a burden which the government are simply obliged to protect. They should be empowered to reach their full potential as generators of jobs, economic regeneration, and joy.  This would not only greatly assist these special places’ own post-Covid recovery but also support the wider heritage sector, the tourism industry and the UK’s local and national economy.

This is something the government must understand and provide support for but it is  thankfully becoming part of the conversation – a discussion on the UK’s World Heritage recently occurred in the House of Lords where Baroness Andrews asked “is the Minister aware that all our 32 world heritage sites need urgent help to recover from the impact of Covid-19? If our heritage assets are to help in the rebuilding of Britain, their custodians need sustainable funding to do so. When will they know what share of the DCMS cultural package they will get?”

Since the beginning of the 2020 pandemic, World Heritage UK has been supporting the UK’s World Heritage Sites by facilitating a monthly online Site Coordinators’ meeting. Much like our physical events (sadly not possible this year), this digital space has become a valued forum for sites to support one another and to share advice, expertise, and intelligence, both about the ongoing situation and wider World Heritage issues.

The discussions we have facilitated have also identified common themes and shared concerns, including how to adapt sites for social distancing, funding challenges, green recovery, and the decolonisation of heritage. The presence of DCMS and other heritage NDPBs at these meetings is a testament to the importance of these conversations.

Though many UK World Heritage sites were originally forced to close, as they have reopened, they are already proving their value as important places for pandemic recovery. Most sites, especially natural or mixed sites, are outdoors or have large spaces compatible with social distancing and have become vital assets for wellbeing. This can be seen in the changing audiences coming to UK World Heritage Sites over the past four months: The English Lake District, for example, is seeing a totally new demographic of visitors who have never been to the lakes (or indeed the countryside) before. However, other sites have struggled with access and social distancing requirements, making reopening more difficult – this has been the case for Orkney where ferries have been very limited and their normal tourism from cruises has bee wiped out this year.

The World Heritage UK report published last year

World Heritage UK wishes to ensure that our world-class sites – both cultural and natural – not only survive the pandemic and its associated economic downturn but also thrive and positively contribute to national recovery.  There are many lessons to be gleaned from two recent reports published on the subject: The 2019 World Heritage UK Review, published last year and the recently published UKNC National Value of UNESCO to the United Kingdom Report have both highlighted the enormous untapped potential of our World Heritage Sites, pointing out that with the right support, they can be strong drivers of economic regeneration.

In the short term, World Heritage Sites can contribute to economic recovery by driving inbound and domestic tourism. Longer term, they can support the creation of jobs and employment in tourism, traditional building skills and the construction industry, contributing to sustainable regeneration and place-making. Finding new uses for old buildings is also an inherently green approach to recovery which maximises the use of our existing assets.

Increasing capacity, diversification and upskilling in the management of World Heritage Sites is vital to enable sites to realise their potential benefits.  Furthermore, higher levels of awareness of World Heritage sites within the UK and internationally will have an enormous beneficial impact for Global Britain, its cultural diplomacy and soft power.

As the UK moves into recovery post-Covid, every industry has the chance to forge a new, more sustainable path. For the heritage sector in particular, the UK’s World Heritage Sites can lead the way in fostering sustainable development by supporting local, regional, and national communities and economies whilst promoting culture and tourism in our own back yard.

Save-the-date! 6/7 August for World Heritage UK summer meeting at Durham Castle and Cathedral World Heritage Site

Durham Cathedral, Events, Networking, News, Opportunities, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK

durham-castle-credit-adteasdale

World Heritage UK is pleased to announce a two-day summer workshop and networking event exploring the social and economic opportunities and challenges of community engagement in and around World Heritage Sites. A rare treat, the meeting will take place in the historic Priors Hall of Durham Cathedral (not generally open to the public), at the heart of the Durham Castle and Cathedral UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The programme is still being developed but is expected to consider a range of subjects including: the socio-economic effects of world heritage status, heritage tourism, community archaeology,  young people as heritage champions, along with some interesting international perspectives.

Delegates should come prepared to enjoy the presentations and contribute to developing these themes in workshop sessions but it won’t be all work, with many opportunities to visit some highlights of this fascinating World Heritage Site including the Cathedral, Castle and Open Treasure exhibition, networking with world heritage colleagues and heritage service providers and a dinner in the Cathedral’s Medieval Undercroft restaurant.

An optional third day (Thursday 8th August) is also being considered, with a chance to visit two other World Heritage Sites: Hadrian’s Wall and the English Lake District.

Save-the-date in your diaries for now – an online booking page will be available soon. Perhaps a good opportunity to make it part of your summer holiday this year!

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LIVERPOOL – UK’S FIRST “HERITAGE ROLE MODEL”

Awards, Celebration, News, Planning, Uncategorized

Liverpool- John Hickey-fryLIVERPOOL has become the UK’s first “Heritage Role Model” – after being chosen to help spearhead Europe’s biggest drive to develop historic city centres.

Liverpool is one of ten cities – and the only one in the UK – to successfully bid for 10 million euros of Horizon 2020 funding to examine how cities can use heritage as a powerful engine for economic growth.

Liverpool City Council is to receive just over 400,000 euros from the prestigious ROCK programme (Renewable Heritage in Creative and Knowledge Economies) which will be used to promote the city’s unique assets and develop community engagement around its Mercantile World Heritage Site (WHS) – the results from which will help create a new European strategy.

ROCK funded activities will include initiatives to increase participation such as a citizen/youth board, volunteer programmes and social and wellbeing projects hosted at the Grade I listed St George’s Hall, which will celebrate the 10 anniversary of its £23 refurbishment in April.

This will be coupled with new digital interpretation panels and ‘way finder’ signage to connect the historic waterfront (including the newly established RIBA Centre at Mann Island) to key historic and cultural assets such as the Town Hall, St George’s Hall and the wider St George’s Quarter.

The funding, which is to be to be approved by Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet in February, coincides with a five year review of Liverpool’s WHS which found that £427m has been invested in heritage buildings with a further £245m on site and in the pipeline.

The survey found that 18 listed buildings situated within Liverpool’s WHS have been refurbished/brought back into use since 2012 with council financial assistance, such as the Aloft Hotel, the award-winning Central Library and Stanley Dock. Similar schemes to a further 19 listed buildings within WHS are currently on site.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Receiving this European funding is a huge coup for Liverpool and demonstrates how highly the city is internationally regarded in the way it protects its heritage.

“This funding will allow us to invest in radically improving our marketing and interpretation of our key heritage assets to residents and visitors, which will help further fuel our global appeal and booming tourism economy. 

“The collaboration with such prestigious partners will also provide an invaluable opportunity to exchange best practice with other historic cities such as Athens, Bologna and Lisbon and will put us at Europe’s top table for heritage development.”

It is hoped ROCK heritage pilot activity will form the basis for more substantial initiatives to build on ‘best practice’ across partners, increase heritage participation in all age groups, and improve inclusion and wellbeing.

Knowledge exchange and mentoring will take place across all cities on best practice deployment of sensor technology to monitor and conserve Heritage assets.

The 32 partner project, overseen by the city of Bologna, includes expert representation from UNESCO, United Cities and Local Government (UCLG), European Universities Association (EUA), and URBACT and is the largest of its kind in the H2020 programme.

It is regarded as the pinnacle of international heritage research, the results of which will form the basis for a future European wide strategy linked to RSI3 smart specialisation.

HERITAGE, IDENTITY AND PLACE

News

As you may have seen in the media the RSA is “collaborating with the Heritage Lottery Fund to better understand the links between heritage and identity at the local scale.

They have analysed “over 100 datasets to produce a Heritage Index to help people understand local heritage assets and activities, and access relevant data through a single site. Data ranges from the length of canals and size of protected wildlife sites, through to the number of historic local businesses and the proportion of residents visiting museums and archives.”

RSA say that “the Index is designed to simulate debate about what is valued from the past, and how that influences the identity of its current residents. This can help a place achieve its aspirations to grow and prosper, socially and economically.”

You can click on their interactive maps and download the data from this website, and have a look to see whether your local World Heritage Site, or World Heritage Sites per-se are making a difference.

 

Britain's heritagePhoto taken from RSA Website – all copyright RSA