A new heritage strategy to pull together efforts to capitalise on Nottingham’s richly historic past and make its heritage contribute even more to its future development was launched this week (26th March).

The strategy sets out aims and ambitions for the city over the next 10 to 15 years, to show how Nottingham’s unique history can contribute to increasing the city’s future prosperity and well-being, using heritage as the driving force to inspire regeneration and stimulate growth, adding to the appeal of a city already rated by The Sunday Times as one of the UK’s top 50 urban places to live, citing its history, culture and individuality.

 Nottingham City Council launched the strategy along with public and private sector partners and interested parties from across the city on Thursday evening at The Galleries of Justice, one of Nottingham’s iconic heritage sites, with keynote speeches from councillors, heritage experts and the business community including Galleries of Justice Chief Executive Chief Executive Tim Desmond (pictured) , Dr. David Strange-Walker of Trent and Peak Archaeology and city council portfolio holders Cllr Nick McDonald and Cllr Jane Urquhart.

Finding ways to better understand, celebrate and capitalise on Nottingham’s unique heritage is the key ambition for the strategy.

Heritage-led restoration and regeneration projects already in the pipeline include the £24m scheme to create a world-class tourist attraction at Nottingham Castle, vividly bringing Nottingham’s medieval history to life and attracting a projected 400,000 visitors a year.

The city’s recently redeveloped station is another prime example. Its award-winning £60m restoration and redevelopment is helping to spark development and regeneration projects all around it. These include the £700,000 Heritage Lottery-funded restoration of Carrington Street, reinstating the street’s original character and reinforcing the link between the station and the city centre.

Councillor Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation, said: “Research by English Heritage showed that the station had been modelled on Grand Central Station, New York, and was further influenced by New York’s long-demolished Penn Station. The ‘constructive conservation’ combined the best modern facilities with the restoration of the station’s Edwardian former glories and has already proved to be a powerful catalyst for high-quality development nearby.”

Developments include a £20m plan for Unity Square Phase 1, initially featuring 50-60,000 square feet of grade A office space, with a hotel and more office space to follow.

Other historic assets that could stimulate growth from tourism and from a better local appreciation of their uniqueness include the city’s caves. Archaeology specialists Trent and Peak have been conducting the Nottingham Caves Survey, a comprehensive survey of the city’s caves using 3D scanning techniques to encourage residents and visitors to be more aware of them as a unique historical resource.  Councillor  McDonald, Portfolio Holder for Jobs and Growth said: “Nottingham is a great heritage city. The Nottingham Heritage Strategy is about telling our story, promoting our fantastic heritage assets and encouraging people who live in Nottingham and people who visit to enjoy the fantastic heritage offer that this city has.

“The strategy is also a way to ensure successful, heritage-led regeneration. This will attract substantial inward investment, and the city’s growth and development will be hugely assisted by having this strategy in place.

“Well looked-after places – with a clear sense of identity and obvious emphasis upon preserving the quality and condition of buildings and assets – generate investor confidence. People sometimes think heritage preservation means not changing things. Actually, it’s as much about change as it is about conservation – encouraging, not preventing, development.

“The strategy’s vision is to re-establish in Nottingham a vibrant, valued and widely-known heritage agenda, which delivers long-term benefits to Nottingham people and to the city’s economy. Heritage helps to improve our quality of life; it also helps us promote our city as a cultural destination and as a place to do business.

“The city council will be leading on a ‘Year 1 Action Plan’ which will put in place the supporting infrastructure to help deliver the heritage strategy over the next 10 to 15 years, will ensure a partnership approach to heritage, will allow us to start thinking about innovative forms of ownership and asset management, and will commit us to taking action where it’s needed. We will work with partners on flagship projects as examples of what can be achieved, including a new Conservation Area in Bulwell town centre.”

The Action Plan includes the formation of a Heritage Panel to champion the heritage cause and oversee delivery of the strategy and the establishment of a Heritage Partnership, bringing together public, private and voluntary organisations to share skills and resources.

Sean Akins of Bildurn Properties, which is involved in a number of heritage-led regeneration projects in the city including Cobden Chambers, Waterstones and the Gresham Hotel, said: “I welcome the introduction of a strategic approach to enhancing and celebrating the city’s heritage. The strategy recognises the need for creative redevelopment, promoting Nottingham as an innovative city built on lasting foundations and as a place to invest and regenerate with confidence.

“How we re-use our heritage comes with its own set of challenges, but as a developer born in the city I’m dedicated to improving Nottingham’s eclectic architectural heritage and unique sense of place, ensuring it continues to play a central role in city life.”

The strategy also recommends exploring the potential for a Buildings Trust, a not-for profit organisation to tackle heritage at risk and galvanise community groups to take on the repair and management of important buildings, while the city council will work to ensure that listed buildings at risk have important repairs carried out.

The council’s Heritage Strategy and related documents are available via these links:

www.nottinghaminsight.org.uk/d/123247 – List of potential heritage projects

www.nottinghaminsight.org.uk/d/123574 – Year 1 Action Plan

www.nottinghaminsight.org.uk/d/123244 – Nottingham Heritage Strategy