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Bristol Heritage Forum February 2016

There is a wealth of evidence that heritage is of key importance to visitors, businesses and residents right across the country. Bristol has a tremendous built heritage with over one third of the City covered by Conservation Areas, with more than 4,000 Listed Buildings, and with many historic parks and gardens. Yet there is ongoing pressure on this heritage from development and transport projects at a time when expert conservation resources are diminishing.

Historic England produces an annual state of the heritage report, which provides an invaluable summary of the national and regional context.

In addition, Bristol City Council has recently produced “Our Inherited City – Bristol Heritage Framework 2015 – 2018” which proposes establishing a community based heritage forum in Bristol.

Our Initial Proposals

A Heritage Forum is a relatively new idea, although other cities such as Leicester and Nottingham are moving in the same direction. In Bristol the Civic Society considers that a Heritage Forum would prove to be an invaluable addition to the existing structure and organisations involved in heritage activities. Ideally it would be an independent body but one which worked closely with both Historic England and the City Council.

Its objectives would be likely to include:

  • Raising awareness and promoting the value of heritage
  • Co-ordinating heritage initiatives and facilitating collaboration and partnerships, a veritable “heritage dating agency”
  • Sharing knowledge and best practice, building community capacity.

Why a Bristol Heritage Forum?

The purpose of the launch event is to gather support for the new Forum and to generate ideas for future activities, events and initiatives. The most likely work streams will include

  1. Helping to find sustainable future uses for Buildings At Risk and other historic buildings.
  2. Influencing developments and transport projects affecting historic buildings and places. This would include pre application and planning application stages.
  3. Ensuring Bristol’s heritage is cared for in plans, policies and appraisals.
  4. Helping to deliver training, holding events, publicising heritage related best practice, possible heritage awards. Helping to create community capacity.

What Next?

  • We are establishing a small executive to further define aims and objectives, to explore methods of working and to co-ordinate activities.
  • We will be producing a regular e bulletin to provide uptodate information on activities and initiatives relating to Bristol’s heritage.
  • We will be organising a Heritage event this Autumn. We hope this will become an important annual event. We are looking for ideas, inspiration and sheer organisational abilities in order to deliver a first class event.
  • We will assess the scope for Heritage Awards in order to celebrate particularly high quality projects and examples of best practice.

Simon Birch, Bristol Civic Society; Alison Bromilow, Neighbourhood Planning Network.