A new report published today highlights the incredible heritage of York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding, and the opportunities it presents for good economic growth.
‘Celebrating Our Distinctive Heritage’ is the first work of its kind in the North of England. Commissioned jointly by Historic England and the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, it builds a better understanding of the area’s historic assets and how people, places and our economy can benefit from a well-maintained historic environment.
Helen Simpson OBE, Chair of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This report can be used as a blueprint – both locally and beyond – for levelling-up heritage, creating a better understanding and appreciation of the region’s historic environment, attracting investment and ensuring that heritage priorities are reflected in stakeholders’ plans and delivery actions. We see it as a call to action for thinking and acting differently about our heritage and our places.
“As the report emphasises, the area’s historic environment can be a significant driver for growth, increasing the economic value of our visitor offer, aiding business development through better utilisation of heritage buildings, creating job and training opportunities, improving the desirability and attractiveness of our places, and so much more. Successful places are places where people want to live, work, learn, play and visit. How we unlock the potential of our heritage assets and historic places will be crucial for the continued success and economic resilience of our area.”
Trevor Mitchell, Historic England regional director for Yorkshire, said: “Our shared heritage has the power to enrich all of our lives, bringing beauty and history into our everyday experience, providing homes, workplaces and leisure opportunities, and helping define our place in the world. Crucially, our heritage also provides us with economic assets that can fuel good growth.
“This new report demonstrates that our connections to the past are not only central to the sense of place and quality of life for residents and visitors alike but also a major source of economic value. Each part of the area has its own special qualities, which can be used to drive good growth that is complementary rather than competitive.
“We want to move on now to see how we can help to turn the report’s recommendations into actions which will create sustainable new futures for our beautiful old places across York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding.”
The report explores six main areas where opportunities for good growth are likely to be focused: market towns, coastal towns, lowland agricultural landscapes, the uplands of the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales, and the city of York.
The report also addresses the on-going impact of Covid-19, and the opportunities it creates for our places. Lockdown restrictions have resulted in widespread home working, increased digitisation, and further growth in online retail. People working from home have rediscovered what is on their doorstep, with essential retail and greenspaces acting as lifelines during lockdown. Meanwhile, a ‘staycation boom’ has seen people turning to all corners of the UK for leisure and holidays, with York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding proving to be popular destinations.
A Heritage and Culture Strategy Group made up of key regional partners has been formed to take forward the report’s recommendations. This group will guide strategy, target investment and drive delivery.
The report was produced by consultancy firm LUC.
Steven Orr, Director of Historic Environment at LUC, said: “Taking forward this piece of work has been a great experience – and a bit of a learning curve for our team. While Covid-19 threw up a range of challenges, we were fortunate in being in a position to understand and respond to the entirely new drivers and opportunities that emerged in the space of a few months. What really made our research come alive was the input of local stakeholders, which allowed the team to sharpen our recommendations and understand what works – and what doesn’t – in the area.
“We look forward to seeing how the actions suggested in the report are refined and taken forward across the region. Hopefully, it’s a model that other regions will consider in making the most of their heritage.”
To view the full report or the executive summary, see our Place & Infrastructure research here.