Nottingham Heritage Partnership Launch Saturday 26th November 2016

The launch at the Council House was attended by over 100 people from across the city, including members of the Civic Society, Thoroton Society, Canalside Heritage Centre, Wollaton Local History Society, Mapperley and Sherwood Local History group, Nottingham Industrial Museum, Green’s Windmill,   Canalside Heritage Centre, Friends of the Forest, Friends of Victoria Embankment, SKN Heritage, Woodthorpe House, Green Spaces Project, Newstead Abbey Partnership, NTU, Nottingham University, Malt Cross, Museum Service, Libraries, etc . as well as a number of funding, consultant and business development organisations.

The introduction by Cllr Nick McDonald , stressing the importance of promoting the heritage of the city as part of a plan to promote economic development and regeneration across the city.  This was developed through examples given by a number of speakers through the day ( Kathy McArdle, Chief Executive of the Culture Quarter, who focused on restoration of buildings across the Lace Market through promotion of new business and employment, and the Malt Cross presentation, on restoring an historic building through developing multiple use and business opportunities.)

John Beckett followed with a plea to preserve the heritage of the city but for the city not to become ossified. He stressed that a city must adapt and change over time although the rich variety of the city’s heritage of buildings must be protected.   This was also a theme taken up by other speakers and specifically by the Civic Society presentation by Ian Wells and a representative from Historic England..

A further theme running through the day was the success of the city in gaining the significant grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund for developing the Castle.  This was to include refurbishment of the Castle building itself and extension of the museum to include the “rebellion gallery”, and also to develop the grounds and entertainments which would promote the Castle as a significant visitor attraction.

Two presentations focused more on engaging local people in local history.  Louise Butterworth, NCC Audience Engagement Officer, on the use of volunteers at city historical venues , like Wollaton Park, Brewhouse Yard and Newstead Abbey, with an excellent short film on the responses of these volunteers. The second was by Dr Anna Souto of NTU who reported on the project on Mapping Nottingham’s Identity and its work in Sneinton, Carrington and West Bridgford.

There was only a limited opportunity to engage in open discussion on the proposals.   General contributions were in the form of questions from no more than five people, raising questions about the past role NCC in protecting buildings, the shortcomings of the museum service, how the development of Broadmarsh  area is to enhance the heritage of the Carrington Street area, and the importance of remembering the historic  ties to Calais in the lace industry ( with a visitor from Calais speaking).   I can report from two of the workshops. The first workshop focused on  identifying and enriching a “local list” of places across the city that needed to be protected or marked in addition to those already protected as listed buildings/sites. This led to interesting discussion on the importance of not focusing only on buildings, especially listed buildings, if  we are going to encourage engagement across the city’s communities , and the need to reflect  memory of place, people , events through the use of plaques, events, etc. The issue was also considered of those features of the city landscape that needed preservation which are shared with surrounding areas , such as the canals, and the importance of working with neighbouring local authorities .

The second workshop was on general reflections and responses to the consultation document, although many had not seen it, and how we could contribute to it .  The overall approach being taken, to review and promote the heritage story of the city, combining renovation and preservation of buildings , historic landscape and business development, was supported.   The Issues raised included the danger of the strategy being city centre focused, and also focused on buildings before communities. It was felt that there was need to engage people across the city in  their heritage and that this should be given more focus.

The question was asked how the Heritage Panel had been selected and it was stated that others could join  it if they were willing to be working members.  The need of the Heritage Panel to report on its work and its proposals was stressed. ( I suggested that NLHA has a network to help disseminate regular reports to many in the local history network across, and around, the city, if this was of use.)

The Heritage Panel is composed of Cllr. McDonald and one other City Councillor , officers for the Partnership ( Alice Ullathorne is the principal officer), and representatives from the Civic Society, Nottingham University ( Richard Gaunt), Nottingham Trent University, two representatives from local business and two from  voluntary groups.

The stated intention is that this forum of local representatives meet again annually to review the progress of the partnership strategy.

Roger Tanner

27th November 2016

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