Our Priority Places 2018-19 in the North West
The North West region is a wonderful place, with 1,000 kilometres of coastline, over 30% of its land in National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, three World Heritage Sites, over 25,000 listed buildings, and more than 130 registered parks.
Whilst its heritage covers all periods from the Stone Age onwards, it is perhaps best known for the legacy of its mercantile and industrial history of the 18th to early 20th centuries. The North West's historic built environment also reflects the region's cultural traditions, from music to sport and politics to art.
Sadly, that unique heritage is threatened by a legacy of economic and social decline in many places, leaving a historic environment in need of support.
5 priority places to focus on
As champions for the historic environment, Historic England has an important part to play through its planning advisory role, expertise, grant aid and public engagement. However, with only a small regional Planning team, we need to focus our resources to maximise our impact.
So, in addition to undertaking our statutory duties such as responding to planning consultations, we've identified five priority places where we'll focus more attention over the coming year:
We'll continue to deliver our objectives in our first Heritage Action Zone (the historic town of Appleby in Eden). This year we'll be starting work on repairs in the conservation area, exploring options for the Moot Hall and finishing our grant aided repair work to the Keep at Appleby Castle.
We're pleased to be helping Barrow Borough Council improve understanding and the condition of the town's rich historic environment. We'll be advising on best practice in managing its heritage assets to ensure they play a positive role in the town's future development.
Oldham's historic town centre and the impressive legacy of textile mills are the two areas of our focus. We'll support the council in delivering solutions for key buildings in the town centre conservation area, which is at risk. We'll also work collaboratively in identifying and reinvigorating priority mill sites so that their re-use can contribute to the borough's regeneration.
Rochdale is the North West's second Heritage Action Zone launched in April this year. We'll be working with partners to develop the initial stages of a project to revive a historic gateway into the town centre - running from the railway station to the town hall. The plans include development of some key sites along Drake Street, which will lead to its transformation from under used retail units to a mixed-use area, providing a boost to town centre housing. The project will also include a celebration of the town's unique co-operative heritage.
Wigan is another North West town with an impressive industrial legacy. The council is looking to develop its brownfield sites and we'll support them in developing a strategic approach to managing historic mills in the borough. This will include the creative re-use of its textile heritage to increase the supply of housing in Wigan town centre and the completion of our grant aided repairs at Leigh Spinners Mill.