[Thanks to John Martin for passing this along!]
And English Heritage has a new proposal of its own that it has been promoting with the government. Working with Visit England, it is pushing for cathedral cities and historic towns to be given a special accolade that recognises their rich heritage, rather like the French system of designating specific “towns of art and history”. These will, it is intended, make extra funds available, encourage sensitive development and promote both tourism and civic engagement.
“We are not talking about creating some ghastly heritage ghetto,” stresses Simon Thurley, “but rather a way of raising their status. Sometimes it can take an outside accolade to make local people appreciate what they have.” He points to the transformation of Liverpool’s city centre as a result of it being named European City of Culture in 2008, or the ongoing revival of Hull since it was named UK City of Culture for 2017.
“It’s not new levels of planning controls we need for our cathedral cities,” he says. “What we need to do is encourage local communities and local authorities to treasure what they have got. The heritage of a place can be a real force for good – not just in terms of well-being and how it looks, but economically, in attracting new employers, creating jobs and making for a more confident place. At the moment, because of bad development decisions, too many historic towns are killing the golden goose.”