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.
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
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.
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.