The historic environment is a source of national and local pride. It provides a sense of identity and belonging, as well as contributing to our overall wellbeing and quality of life. Used successfully, it can support the educational, cultural and economic wellbeing of an area.
Most community feedback on the historic environment happens at a local level, so the council has a vital role in protecting England’s heritage. With the encouragement of Historic England, we have appointed a heritage champion at councillor level to play an influential role in supporting the protection of the city’s local heritage.
This is a new developmental role – Cllr Lee Hunt has agreed to be the council’s heritage champion. The initial priorities and responsibilities have been identified as:
- making the council aware of important historic environment issues and opportunities
- promoting the value of the historic environment as a catalyst for regeneration and economic growth, and its potential for attracting economic investment and funding in certain areas
- raising the profile of the historic environment in planning discussions and documents by working with planning officers to ensure key issues and opportunities are identified and addressed
- working with key departments and organisations in, and outside of, the council to promote and maximise the benefits the historic environment can have on people and the economy of the city
An action plan will be developed by council officers with oversight by the heritage champion. The main liaison over the role and support will be provided through the Assistant Director for Culture and City Development.
No financial implications are associated with the role, and heritage champions do not have decision-making powers. Responsibilities for decisions around heritage continue to rest with the appropriate Cabinet Member or council committee.
Why are heritage champions important?
The role of heritage champion is tailored to meet the needs of the city and the ambitions of the council.
A heritage champion should:
Inspire – Generate enthusiasm and awareness for the importance of the historic environment within the council and wider community, and act as a point of contact for support and information on heritage-related issues for the local community and others outside of the council.
Advocate – Promote opportunities that draw attention to the historic environment across the council and help ensure that commitment to the proper care of the historic environment is embedded in all activities influenced by the council.
Influence – Champions should use their position to influence those around them for the benefit of the historic environment.
Communicate – Communicating within the council, and with Historic England and other heritage organisations is a large part of a Champion’s work.
Follow the link for more information on the heritage champion role at Historic England.