Heritage covers a wide variety of sectors and types of assets, from the natural landscapes which surround us, to historic icons, old towns, windmills, and industrial heritage. In all these varieties, heritage assets have the potential to generate social value, but are often undervalued or lost from the civic imagination.
Heritage evolves organically in tandem with local communities, yet this unique connection linking heritage assets to the life of specific localities is not always adequately nurtured. With respect to the iconic assets such as, the Tower of London, Stonehenge or the Major Oak of Sherwood Forest, it is often the case that – while immensely popular with visitors – they became alien and removed from the interests of local communities. On the other hand, non-designated, under-valued, and often neglected architectural and natural environments fail to benefit local communities simply because they are not adequately protected. Iconic and ‘every-day’ assets are part of the fabric of everyday life of many communities.
As embedded both historically and geographically within Britain, there exists a greater opportunity to harness a much wider variety of heritage assets than has been recognised to date in a number of ways that have not yet been fully appreciated.
Civic engagement can be enhanced in many ways. For instance, by retaining the functionality of heritage assets or indeed, the multifunctional use, digitalisation of heritage access or improving local understanding of conservation and a community's skills base. Alongside new platforms for civic engagement, there is a need to remove a number of existing obstacles such for instance as, tensions which arise between local and national planning authorities in the context of planning permissions. The objective of this project is to demonstrate how heritage can be 'brought to life' by re-imagining how it can serve the interests of concrete communities and become an engine for civic renewal.
The project will be a flagship output of our British Civic Life workstream, and is now open to external engagement from third party organisations. For the next stage, ResPublica would like to establish a consortium of partners from the public, private and third sectors, who will feed in to our further research and debate in this area and benefit from co-branding on publications and events.
If you would like further information, or to discuss partnering on this venture, please contact Caroline Julian, Senior Researcher and Project Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.