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Heritage could help add £2.7 billion to Northern economy

Above: view of public entrance to the Science + Industry Museum Manchester which hosted Future Cities Forum in June 2022. The museum is adjacent to Enterprise City, which includes the Old Granada Studios and the new arts and performance space, the Factory.

We were delighted to read Historic England's support of heritage in the North, pointing to its value for strengthening the regional economy. Future Cities Forum included Historic England's Director for the North, Trevor Mitchell in its levelling up events in both Leeds and Manchester among other speakers from government, investment, development and arts organisations.

Historic England recently reported:

'Heritage working together with the arts, culture, nature and environment sectors could provide an extra £2.7 billion to the Northern economy, helping to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and regenerate the North.'

This, it said, is according to the NP11 group of 11 northern local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), which has worked with Historic England, as well as Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Environment Agency to develop a cohesive ‘Place Strategy for the North’

It stated further:

'Heritage – alongside arts, culture and nature - makes an important contribution to economic growth and job creation across the North, as well as other major national priorities such as meeting net zero targets, regenerating town and city centres and boosting pride and wellbeing among communities.

The strategy sets out how a strengthened place proposition will boost investment and relocation interest, future prosperity and sustainability, and identifies the potential to add £2.7 billion GVA (Gross Value Added) to the Northern economy on top of the £10.4 billion already generated by the North’s arts, culture and heritage sectors.'

Trevor Mitchell, Director for the North, Historic England, commented:

'The North is made of a thousand special places, from Hadrian's Wall to Sheffield’s Park Hill Flats and from Wigan Pier to Hull Old Town. Each one can play its part in growing our economy and our wellbeing. This strategy gives us a framework to work in collaboration with partners to maximise the economic and social potential of these historic sites and create thriving places across the north.'

At Future Cities Forum's Leeds discussion - where he was on a panel with the British Library, Channel 4 and architects Sheppard Robson, Trevor said:

'You can walk past fantastic buildings in Leeds all the time and they are all individual but why do people come into the city? They want to be in and around public buildings where there is a sense of identity - where we can all belong. Historic England puts its money into communities not just capital works.

' If I turn on my television to Channel 4, I can see the city of Leeds represented every day and we can therefore give Leeds a recognisable branding through heritage, which is marketed to the world. We have a pride in our place.

'We need to be marketing our cities and there is always going to be a tension between protecting the past and moving forward - but I don't think for Leeds anymore. The city is getting recognised for its work on climate change and next year is the 2023 cultural festival. The city will gain its share of brand.'

Historic England now will work with the NP11 and partners, in collaboration with organisations across the North, to put the strategy and associated delivery plan into action. Key opportunities include capturing a greater share of domestic tourism spend for the North and incentivising the reuse and retrofitting of heritage buildings.


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