Some of Nottingham’s most important old buildings and sites have been saved from falling into disrepair, disuse or dereliction, thanks to a heritage drive which started six years ago.
Since its launch by Nottingham City Council and leading public and private sector partners in 2015, the Nottingham Heritage Strategy has seen heritage placed at the heart of Nottingham’s regeneration plans, with £35m invested so far. The city’s unique system of medieval caves, Nottingham Castle, parks, buildings, shops and monuments have all benefited from investment by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England.
The award-winning strategy has helped set out plans to better understand Nottingham’s historical treasures, attract inward investment and celebrate, preserve and bring back into use many of Nottingham’s historical assets. For example, a recent review has shown that almost half of Nottingham’s ‘at risk’ buildings have been repaired and brought back into use since the Heritage Strategy was launched.
The City Council has led the strategy action plan, embarking on a series of projects and initiatives to deliver and resource the strategy over a 10-15 year period. One of the first steps was to create a Heritage Panel, which champions heritage in the city and oversees the delivery of the strategy. Formed in 2015, the panel consists of experts in delivering heritage schemes from the public and private sector. Historic England have provided enormous support in the initiation of the Heritage Strategy and in its delivery through extensive specialist advice, listing and research and by match funding dedicated posts.
Action carried out through the strategy is starting to have an impact on preserving and saving some of the city’s most important heritage which otherwise might have been lost. This includes:
- Tackling Heritage at Risk in Nottingham by working with owners to find new uses for buildings and securing funding such as the Carrington Street Townscape Heritage scheme and the Nottingham Heritage Action Zone
- Developing a Nottingham Local List, where people can nominate local assets, which are not protected by national listings, but showcase the city’s history and distinctive character, to provide better protection as part of the planning process
- Creating Conservation Areas in Bulwell and the Old Meadows to grant a protection status and make the area subject to additional planning controls, to help safeguard and enhance them. The character and appearance of the conservation area are taken into account for all types of development and this includes ensuring architecture is preserved and special consent gained to tear down buildings.
The Heritage Strategy also sets out recommendations for other organisations that help to make the strategy work, including:
- The City of Nottingham Historic Buildings Trust, which was created to secure the future of Historic Buildings and other Heritage at Risk within Nottingham
- Nottingham Heritage Partnership; which helps people and communities support each other and better understand, enjoy, celebrate and manage Nottingham’s heritage by identifying and developing local projects through a community forum.
Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Heritage, Councillor Linda Woodings, said: “Nottingham’s unique historical character creates a real sense of identity and is an asset for the city. However, many of Nottingham’s historical assets are privately owned, and are not easy to maintain, protect and preserve which can be very expensive, often requiring specialist advice, guidance and services.
“With the help of local people and businesses, heritage organisations and experts, plus financial support through grant aided schemes, we are now starting to see some real tangible benefits emerge from the implementation of the strategy six years ago.
“By improving our understanding of heritage and working together to put plans in place to try and tackle some of the issues, we can help promote and celebrate our heritage better, attract more visitors, businesses and investment, and use it as an inspirational driving force in how Nottingham grows and regenerates.”
Clive Fletcher, Principal Advisor and Lead Specialist at Historic England, said “Nottingham is one of the nation’s key historic cities, with a heritage that is as multi-layered as it is diverse. It has however been under-appreciated, and we have worked hard with the City Council to harness it through the excellent Heritage Strategy and the Heritage Action Zone, and are delighted to see the results are starting to bear fruit.”
Anne Jenkins, Director England Midlands and East, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are encouraged to hear about the positive impact this strategy has had on the city’s heritage in relation to conservation, sustainability, regeneration and tourism. We are particularly proud to have worked in partnership with Nottingham City Council, D2N2 and Nottingham Castle Trust to support Nottingham Castle in realising their ambition to become a first class visitor destination. We are confident this strategy has stood the city in good stead as we look ahead to the role heritage can play in a post Covid-19 recovery.”