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Great Weston Heritage Action Zone - One Year On

Over three years, the Great Weston Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) will boost economic growth and keep Weston-super-Mare on the map as a great place to live and work in.

Steered by Heritage Action Zone Project Officer Cara MacMahon, a lot of progress has been made in understanding, celebrating and planning for heritage-led growth in Weston. One year in, find out just how much has been going on:

Understanding Weston

In the first year of the HAZ, a lot of research has been commissioned to better understand Weston's unique character. This will help celebrate the town's special qualities, and ensure future growth builds on them.

  • Major new research into Weston's heritage and urban development is now almost complete. This will inform a new book which will be published in spring 2019
  • The first historic landscape characterisation survey of Weston is also now complete
  • Weston's listed buildings have been reviewed, leading to the listing of Weston railway station at Grade II in November 2017
  • New aerial mapping and aerial photography is also under way, which will provide an archive of images of Weston and surrounding area from the air
  • Work on Weston's conservation areas is well under way (see below)

Weston-super-Mare town centre, June 2017
Weston-super-Mare town centre, June 2017 © Historic England

Celebrating Weston

One of the aims of the Great Weston HAZ is to celebrate and encourage wider appreciation of the town's fascinating heritage.  In the first year, great progress has been made, including:

  • Launching the 'Gems of Weston' heritage walk in January 2018 
  • Producing a free, interactive Great Weston adventure trail on the Crumbs City Trails App 
  • Staging a new exhibition - Weston Aerial Photography: Past and Present - at Weston's iconic Grand Pier between June 2018 and January 2019
  • Working on 'hearts and minds' through a programme of stakeholder engagement - from council officers and members to the business community and the general public

The 'Past and Present' exhibition at Weston-Super-Mare's Grand Pier, June 2018
The 'Past and Present' photographic exhibition at Weston-Super-Mare's Grand Pier, June 2018 © The Grand Pier

Focus on Weston's conservation areas

One of the key objectives of the Great Weston HAZ is to review the town's conservation areas, and to consider whether its historic town centre should be designated as a conservation area.

This year, North Somerset Council commissioned Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners to work with stakeholders to carry out this work. The vision is not only to review current designations, but to develop a set of best practice Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans as templates for future conservation area work, not just in North Somerset but as a guide for England.

Buy-in at this stage is crucial, so this year has seen intensive engagement with local politicians, businesses, and heritage partners to explain the social and economic value of conservation areas and what their management entails, and to consult on proposals for new or amended conservation areas. 

Delegates at a workshop looking at Weston-super-Mare's conservation areas, May 2018
Delegates at a workshop looking at Weston-super-Mare's conservation areas, May 2018 © Historic England

What's next?

From 2019, the plans for the HAZ include:

  • Launching grant schemes to improve Weston's public realm, shop signs and shopfronts
  • Work has begun with University of the West of England 4th year Architecture and Urban Planning students to develop street and shop front design guidance  
  • New, clear heritage routes across the town, plus new pedestrian access to Weston Museum, Weston Town Square, the seafront and side lanes 
  • An exciting local listing project 

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