Speech for Councillor Lee 14 JulyGood morning and a very warm welcome to all of you.Welcome to the Great Northern Hotel and also to Peterborough itself.It is great to see so many people here with an interest in the historic environment andin our heritage. There are some excellent speakers coming up who will be putting thespotlight on some of our city’s hidden treasures and the ongoing work to ensure ourheritage assets are preserved and celebrated.I would like to thank to both the Heritage Lottery Fund and Vivacity for supportingtoday’s conference and Opportunity Peterborough for hosting such a worthwhileevent.The subject of today’s conference is about making heritage resilient. In Peterboroughwe have some fantastic heritage assets and we need to work together to make surewe are making the most of them and showing the rest of the UK, those buildings,parks and green spaces that unlock the secrets of Peterborough’s rich andinteresting history.As the Heritage Champion for Peterborough this is something very close to my heart.Like other local authorities, Peterborough City Council owns many of the city’sheritage assets including Peterborough Museum and the Victorian Central Parkwhich has won the prestigious Green Flag for the past eight years.Some of these assets are now managed on our behalf by partner organisationsincluding Vivacity which manages the museum, the Key Theatre, our libraries, sportscentres and Flag Fen, one of the best preserved late Bronze Age monumentalstructures in Britain. Our trees, parks and green open spaces are also managed byEnterprise Peterborough.But Peterborough City Council is still strongly committed to ensuring we maximiseour assets and that is why we successfully bid for £3 million to pay for theredevelopment of our museum from the Heritage Lottery Fund which attracted50,000 visitors last year.We also are investing £100,000 a year over the next three years to Flag Fen.We are also providing grants to restore other historic buildings such as thepartnership scheme with English Heritage in the city centre, and as a local planningauthority play a key role in ensuring our buildings of the future complement thosefrom the past.As Heritage Champion I am passionate about ensuring that protecting our heritageand ensuring it is considered in our policy and strategy-making.I chair the Heritage Steering Group, which brings together the heritage interests ofPeterborough, from the local Civic Society to English Heritage, and currentlycomprises of about 10 different organisations.Peterborough is often perceived as a new town, but it has a rich and varied heritagecomprising of over 1000 listed buildings, 64 scheduled monuments and 29conservation areas, including the city centre itself. Recently the city council workedalongside parish councils and the civic society to put together a draft local list of over
230 buildings, including the one we are standing in now. This innovative andcommunity led approach will be highlighted in an English heritage case study laterthis year.The historic environment is vitally important to Peterborough. It underpins localemployment and attracts inward investment into the city. A recent study hashighlighted that the value of the heritage attractions group to the city in 2010 wasover 27 million pounds. This is something we can enhance with new approaches totourism and new projects, including the Cathedral’s ‘Peterborough 900’ project,launched just a few weeks ago.This innovative project aims to ensure the cathedral remains at the heart of city lifeby creating a Music Education Centre for the community as well as the Cathedral,upgrading facilities for visitors and pilgrims and establishing ‘drop-in’ facilities forthose in need including the homeless, and ex-service personnel (in partnership withCombat Stress).Peterborough’s heritage is a cornerstone for regeneration projects, with thedemolition of Norwich Union House, often referred to as the Corn Exchange Building.This has enabled St Johns Church now to be appreciated in its fully glory and thecreation of the new green open space in the city centre - St Johns Square as part ofthe city centre regeneration. If you join us later for the evening reception, and I do hope you will do so, you will beable to see inside St Johns, a Grade 1 listed church dating back at 1407.2011 is an historic year for the Museum as it undergoes a 12-month redevelopmentthat has been funded by Vivacity, Peterborough City Council and the Heritage LotteryFund. On Christmas Eve 2010 museum staff waved off their final visitors until early2012 when the redevelopment project is due to be complete. However, although thebuilding will be closed, the museum service will continue throughout the year, as stafftake the museum out on tour to venues across the city.Peterborough Museum is one of the city’s most popular attractions, along with theCathedral, Nene Valley Railway and Sacrewell Farm – each of which get over 60,000visitors per year.Peterborough Museum is in one of the city’s most historic buildings, which datesback to the Georgian era, and on the site of an earlier Tudor property.Vivacity has also recently taken on the management of Flag Fen Bronze Age site,and we will be working hard to maximise its true potential attracting visitors from farand wide to a world class site.Peterborough city centre is predominantly of Victorian and Georgian stock with someolder timber framed buildings, and of course the Cathedral. The Cathedral and itsprecincts are a source of pride and an important part of the local identity of the city.Its iconic image is regular used as a symbol for the city in organisation logos andbranding including the recently launched partnership with Enterprise Peterborough,which now carries out the city’s waste collection services and manages our parksand green spaces on behalf of the council.
The cathedral and the newly revamped Cathedral Square featured prominently in amarketing campaign in London to attract investment into Peterborough.The historic environment is great for providing skills, training and educationalopportunities within the city.Local initiatives, to work with young people who were not in education, employmentand training, to teach them traditional skills proved a great success.Young people were taught dry stone walling and hedge-laying to name just a few ofthe traditional skills that are still required to maintain some of the rural areas of thecity.Schools regularly take visits out to the heritage sites where they can try out all sortsof hands-on experiences. They can take a peek inside a Bronze Age or Iron AgeRoundhouse or learn where their food comes from.To get local people interested in their heritage we have the annual Heritage Festival,which took place a few weeks ago.Over 20,000 people attending a wide variety of events, from eminent historian andBBC broadcaster Dr David Starkey to falconry displays.Heritage Open Days, coming up in September are supported by the city council andthe Civic Society and Vivacity, and provide a brilliant opportunity for people to see thesites for free, including this year, the 14th century Longthorpe Tower, one of Britain’stop 100 buildings, according to a new book.The replacement body for the Civic Trust, Civic Voice, held their first annual meetingin this venue last year, and they helped to showcase the high levels of interest in thehistoric environment from groups across the country.Delegates then enjoyed their day in Peterborough, as I hope you shall.Thank you!