When we invest in heritage we support business growth, increase tourism, attract new business and create jobs. UK studies show that the historic environment offers a high return on investment.
Each £1 invested generates up to £1.60 of extra economic activity over ten years. Heritage visitors stay longer, spend more per day and have a significantly greater economic impact.
When we invest in heritage we support business growth, increase tourism, attract new business and create jobs. UK studies show that the historic environment offers a high return on investment. Each £1 invested generates up to £1.60 of extra economic activity over ten years. Heritage visitors stay longer, spend more per day and have a significantly greater economic impact.
Mount Stewart was the home of the Londonderry family for more than 250 years. Today it reflects the era 1920-1950, when the 7th Marquess and his wife Edith made Mount Stewart their home. By the turn of this century, Mount Stewart was suffering from serious structural defects and subsidence. The National Trust embarked on a three-year, £8 million restoration project. They returned the house to its former glory and secured its long-term future. Since reopening, domestic and international visitor numbers have increased – to 195,000 in 2016 and to 236,000 in 2018.
NEW LIFE FOR OLD BUILDINGS
Repurposing old buildings is the cornerstone of sustainable development because it creates more jobs and uses fewer resources than fresh construction. Reuse is one of the best ways to engage the private sector in heritage preservation. Companies recognise the benefits of regenerating local areas and consumers seek brands that stress their authentic roots. The process of using old buildings for new purposes is called ‘adaptive reuse’.
The Merchant Hotel, Belfast
Ulster Bank’s old headquarters aspired to the heights of Victorian grandeur. Its sandstone façade boasts Doric and Corinthian columns, while cupids peek from the arabesques of its frieze. This edifice lay vacant for many years until Bill Wolsey of the Beannchor Group realised its potential. Beannchor bought the property and adjoining buildings. They were converted into the new suites and bars of The Merchant Hotel complex. It continues to win awards ten years after its completion.
We value authentic places because they remind us of how our world is shaped by history and people, giving us a sense of our roots and our place in the world. They are indispensable to a cohesive, prosperous and progressive society. Heritage buildings derive their authenticity from their intimate connection to a community’s development. Old farmhouses recall our agrarian past. Historic warehouses, factories and terraces chronicle our industrial development. These buildings tell the story of how we came to be who we are and they imbue us with the confidence to take charge of our future.
St George’s Market, Belfast
St George’s Market isn’t just a building. It embodies an enduring tradition that stretches back before its construction. Its site has hosted markets since 1604, and its red brick and sandstone is redolent of Belfast’s history and traditions. Despite the emergence of new retail environments across the city, St George’s Market is as important to Belfast as ever. It plays host to three weekly markets, some of which attract up to 17,000 people. Tourists flock to see it. Pop musicians hold concerts in it. Hundreds of local small businesses use it to sell their goods. It continues to provide employment and income for stallholders from the local community.
Slieve Gullion, County Armagh
Slieve Gullion rises to 573 metres above sea level in South Armagh. 5000 years ago, a passage tomb was built here to hold the cremated remains of select individuals. Their importance is highlighted by the fact that the tomb is aligned on the setting sun at the winter solstice. Stories and myths have been told to explain the site ever since. The Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership, part funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, and supervised by Historic Environment Division archaeologists, organised restoration work in 2015, using a team of volunteers. The project helped the community to learn about the site and feel involved in its protection.
Exploiting a region’s cultural cachet is essential to attracting outside investment. All else being equal, cities compete on culture. The historic environment plays a decisive role in drawing creative people and the firms that need them. Heritage buildings not only attract large businesses, but also start-ups for a variety of reasons.
Liverpool’s Stanley Docks
The Stanley Docks Conservation Area in Liverpool has seen an old tobacco warehouse transformed into a new hotel and conference centre. It has won plaudits from the RTPI, IHBC and the Civic Trust. It’s just one part of Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage listed docklands area. The success of the Stanley Docks has breathed new life into Liverpool’s commitment to preserving its heritage and demonstrated how cities can use heritage to fulfil a range of economic development objectives.
Dublin has used its cultural heritage to lure the world’s largest financial services and tech companies. To attract these businesses, it had to compete with other European cities on liveability and beauty. Conserving the historic environment was a clear way to do this. In 1987, the inner-city docks area – once a major hub in international trade – had become derelict. The city created the forerunner to today’s Dublin Docks Development Authority to transform this area. It has since attracted €3.35 billion of investment and created 40,000 new jobs. The connections between conservation, investment, and business growth have become obvious and similar initiatives have been rolled out in other areas of Dublin City.