Bedford Works, Kelham Island
Bedford Works, Kelham Island © Historic England DP143687
Bedford Works, Kelham Island © Historic England DP143687

Conclusion - The Northern Powerhouse

by Charles Smith, National Planning and Conservation Department, North West, Historic England

After much rhetoric about the Northern Powerhouse, it's clear that change is really starting to happen. As we've read, major new transport initiatives will gather speed this year. Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield City Regions - together with Tees Valley - will be welcoming their first-ever elected mayors. Hull City of Culture 2017 provides a very real vehicle for both cultural celebration and urban regeneration. In 2018, Newcastle and Gateshead will be home to the pioneering Great Exhibition of the North. This is going to be a huge two-month event showcasing art, design and innovation.

But perhaps the greatest opportunity lies in the more co-ordinated approach to the North's infrastructure, governance and investment programmes. If it works, it should improve cross-authority working, create new economic partnerships and enhance plan making. It also opens up greater potential for historic landscapes - such as the North's rich textile manufacturing legacy - to be celebrated and reinvigorated.

It's vital that heritage is instrumental in shaping delivery of these plans, not just for the sake of the historic environment, but, as Duncan Wilson says, to ensure that the Northern Powerhouse is "authentic and sustainable".

There are many ways in which Historic England will be at the forefront of this work over the course of the next year. Our very own Heritage Action Zones will breathe new life into old places across the North to achieve sustainable growth. As an official partner in the Great Place Scheme, we will join-up with the Arts Council and National Lottery Heritage Fund to pilot new approaches in helping arts, culture and heritage deliver social and economic benefits. We will continue to support region-wide programmes, such as the North East Culture Partnership, which brings together many local authorities, businesses and organisations to harness the power of culture in forging a dynamic and successful north-eastern economy.

And, of course, we'll continue to inform and strengthen renewal of many individual sites and areas through our research, listing, grants and planning advice.

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