“No place in the world will stay special by accident” – Ed McMahon, Urban Land Institute
Better places and particularly better high streets and town centres are a complex balance of knowledge on Communities, Economic Viability, Design, Heritage, Funding, Ownership and Stewardship. The importance of a shared knowledge and collaborative approach was very effectively captured at the excellent Heritage Transforming Neighbourhoods Conference (www.heritagetrustnetwork.org.uk) in Derry this week. SSM’s recent masterplan for Lady Victoria, Newtowngrange and our involvement in regenerating town centres confirms our belief that historic buildings and strong local communities are essential to successful place making.
There were particularly thought provoking contributions from Patrice Frey and Ed McMahon from Main Street America, a movement for preservation-based economic development and community revitalisation across America (www.mainstreet.org). With discussion on the integrity of place, ensuring sustainable tourism and keeping our high street Diverse, Durable and Local. This was very effectively balanced by Maeve Monaghan, of NOW Group, presentation on Creating Sustainable Buildings (www.nowgroup.org) a social enterprise based in Belfast supporting people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future.
We need to engage and collaborate in this complex mix of elements to create enhance and protect our special places.