Local Strategic Partnerships
English Heritage supports the concept of delivering regeneration through the combined efforts of the wide range of interested parties which form Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) and believes that the historic environment plays an important part in ensuring success. In its role as a Partner Authority it seeks to provide advice on how to maximise the potential of the historic environment to the social, cultural and economic benefit of the local area. With that in mind, we would ask that your local strategic partnership consults us when refreshing its Sustainable Community Strategy in order that we may provide advice at a useful point in time, and give consideration to how work at this stage can be translated into a means of delivering part of your local area agreement.
This position statement sets out the broad principles of English Heritage’s vision for the historic environment as an integral part of Sustainable Community Strategies. It outlines how the historic environment contributes to regeneration in both social and economic terms. It is intended to be of assistance to LSPs as their strategies are developed and updated.
Why is the Historic Environment Important to Communities?
The historic environment can have a positive influence on a wide range of local activities including regeneration, housing, education, economic development and community engagement. In particular it can contribute towards the achievement of the shared priorities agreed between central and local government, laid out as targets in Local Area Agreements and taken from the set of 198 National Indicators published by the Department of Communities and Local Government in October 2007.
Some of the ways in which the historic environment can contribute to the success of a local area are included within Local Area Agreements and the Historic Environment.
Checklist for Local Strategic Partnerships
English Heritage believes that the key issues facing a Partnership can best be tackled if its members reflect local views as well as having an understanding of the wider environmental, social and economic issues that need to be tackled. In addition to our statutory involvement as a Partner Authority, where a Partnership identifies historic environment issues as an opportunity, we believe that it should consider the following steps:
- Having at least one person at Board level who understands the potential of the historic environment (for example the authority’s Heritage Champion);
- Establishing a thematic group responsible for environmental matters which should include specialists who understand the heritage sector (e.g. English Heritage);
- Identifying the ‘Unique Selling Points’ or most valued aspects of the area that constitute its character, local distinctiveness, sense of place and identity. Consultation with the local community is often the most effective way of achieving this;
- Taking steps to ensure the use of historic environment through a mix of promotion, protection, renewal and re-use;
- Thinking about how you can meet some of the targets in your local area agreement, for example National Indicator 5 on the overall level of satisfaction with the local area, through the thoughtful use of assets; and
- Taking appropriate specialist advice on heritage issues and projects by ensuring the involvement of historic environment specialists in the strategies preparation. For further information on access to this kind of advice, you can contact the relevant English Heritage regional office.
What can the Historic Environment Contribute to the Sustainable Community Strategy?
The purpose of LSPs is to set out the long term vision for an area, telling the ‘story of the place’ and by their nature each one will be different. To make them properly sustainable they need to reflect the local natural, built and historic environmental conditions. English Heritage believes that the Strategy should seek outcomes which enable social, environmental and economic objectives to be achieved together.
English Heritage recommends that the following questions are considered in the preparation of any strategy:
- Is the full scope of the environment considered; natural, built and historic?
- Is the potential of the historic environment to improve an area recognised in the main targets?
- Are the partners aware of good practice examples of successful heritage-led regeneration? Can lessons be learned from these projects?
- Can the historic environment act as a catalyst to improve local situations and resolve problems?
- Are there potential educational and recreational gains from making better use of the historic environment?
- Has the local community been consulted about which elements of the local historic environment they value, and how they might be put to use?
- Are there ways that employment opportunities in the historic environment can be encouraged? For example, training in traditional building craft skills as part of a regeneration project creates at least two outputs; an improved environment and local employment.
- Have you consulted the new Heritage at Risk Register, together with historic environment staff from your local authority, about heritage assets which could be restored with new uses to benefit the local community in your area?
- Is there sufficient understanding of the historic environment resource? For example the number, condition, quality and location of heritage assets.
- What tools might help to develop understanding of the historic environment? If there are conservation area appraisals, historic landscape characterisation or other studies that would inform any strategy, then local authority historic environment staff should be able to advise on these.
Where to get More Information
- Local authority historic building and archaeological officers. Historic buildings and archaeological officers understand local circumstances, and whether there are any constraints. Most local authorities maintain or have access to an historic environment record which contains information on the local historic environment.
- Local societies. Tap into local knowledge, perhaps through civic societies, local history societies and museums or others who can contribute to a better understanding of local ‘place’.
- English Heritage. Our regional team may be able to provide advice about the historic environment such as sources of information to help develop studies, methods of engaging local communities in historic environment projects, educational initiatives and grant-aid.
- Most local authorities have now appointed an elected Member to act as their Heritage Champion. Champions are responsible for leading on heritage issues within their authority, and their involvement with an LSP may enable ‘joining-up’ of initiatives.
- The Historic Environment Local Management (HELM) website. Find out about training opportunities and download relevant documents – helm.org.uk.
- Look at Heritage Counts – the regular audit of the historic environment which includes both national and regional documents. The current versions can be viewed at www.heritagecounts.org.uk.