The first ever Knowsley Historic Environment Strategy was published earlier this week. It was written by Christine Anders, Principal Conservation Officer, to show what the Council and its partners will be doing over 2013 and 2018 to manage the Borough’s historic environment so that its heritage interest is maintained or enhanced for future generations.
Strategies of this sort are of value because they show how diverse and rich the Borough’s historic environment is and how this diversity means there are many things that must be done to make sure it is properly conserved. The benefits of planning ahead to manage heritage are recognised by English Heritage and funding bodies like the Heritage Lottery Fund.
One of the key things about the Knowsley Historic Environment Strategy (HES) is that as well as covering designated heritage assets like Listed Buildings, Historic Parks and Gardens and Conservation Areas, it also covers ‘non-designated’ historic buildings, open spaces, landscapes, and monuments. There has been a sea change in conservation that has resulted in greater recognition being given to those buildings, structures or places that are of local interest or are locally distinctive.
Prescot Registrars: not a Listed Building, but clearly of local interest. This is the type of locally distinctive, architecturally and historically interesting building that might be included on a Local List.
Another key thing about the HES is it looks beyond the physical historic environment itself and addresses the funding, partnerships, skills, local policies and guidance, education and promotion that all underpin how we go about conserving the Borough’s heritage.
The sixty pages of the HES cover a lot of topics but some of the key commitments I see in it are:
- to compile a ‘Local List’ of buildings that are important to the distinctive character of the settlements and countryside that make up the Borough. Local listing is seen as an important heritage management tool by both the Government (National Planning Policy Framework) and English Heritage.
- to review the condition and occupancy of the Borough’s Listed Buildings and to take action where Listed Buildings are deemed to be ‘at risk’ by their condition or lack of use.
- to review the Borough’s conservation area boundaries, provide up-to-date conservation area appraisals and management plans, and to identify any potential new conservation areas where appropriate.
Leading the way: Prescot Conservation Area Appraisal was the first to be reviewed.
- to support the Merseyside Historic Environment Record (HER) and where appropriate contribute new building or site records to the HER.
- To identify sources of funding within and outside of the Council to support pro-active conservation activity including Building Preservation Trusts. The Prescot THI with its Council and Heritage Lottery Fund support is an existing example of the council’s pro-active approach to conservation.
- To work with partners at a local/voluntary and regional/national levels
- To make sure the Council has the policies, guidance and advice service it needs to play its part in conserving the Borough’s heritage.
- To make sure the Council adheres to best practice in conserving its own buildings, structures, spaces and highways
- To support heritage skills training; particular specialist craft skills are needed to maintain and manage historic buildings, structures and places.
- To help more people know about the Borough’s heritage through research, education, information and promotion.
As you can see, that’s quite a lot! You can read the HES in full here. There are a lot of things in that list that the THI plugs into, particularly the last five points. Christine and I certainly have our work cut out for us for the next few years!