Heritage sites and buildings can have a very positive influence on many aspects of the way a community develops. Regeneration, housing, education, economic growth and community engagement are examples of the ways in which heritage can make a very positive contribution to community life. This is because:
• The historic environment is a proven source of benefit to local economies, particularly through tourism.
• An attractive heritage environment assists in attracting external investment as well as maintaining existing businesses of all types, not just tourism-related.
• People are very proud of their local history, but don’t always express how much they value a place until it’s threatened. Because it adds character and distinctiveness to an area, heritage is a fundamental in creating a ‘sense of place’ for a community.
• Adaptive reuse of heritage buildings is an important factor in creating sustainable communities.
• Heritage buildings add value to regeneration projects, both in terms the economic and environmental advantage of reuse over new build and in adding character to a precinct.
• Heritage places can be a potent driver for community action.
• Increased community values and greater social inclusion can be achieved through a focus on heritage matters.
• The heritage places are an excellent local educational resource for people of all ages. Learning about the history of a place is a good way of bringing communities together through a shared understanding of the unique cultural identity heritage places give to an area.
Areas where the heritage is understood and valued tend to be better looked after than those where heritage items have no link with the community. Such links help to foster civic responsibility and citizenship and contribute to everyone’s quality of life.
Photo: The old Wesfarmers’ Warehouse on Wellington Street – now apartments.