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A structure or building that is culturally or historically significant and must be preserved is referred to as heritage architecture. The UK’s historic sector includes a substantial portion of this architecture.

The UK is fortunate to have some of the world’s most incredible buildings. Not only modern structures but also remarkable monuments from the past. These structures are so common that we frequently pass them without recognising them. However, the upkeep of these structures is crucial.According to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention of 1972, cultural heritage monuments are defined as “groups of structures and places” with exceptional global worth from history, art, and scientific perspectives.

The term “heritage architecture” refers to structures or buildings of cultural or historical significance that must be preserved since they are an essential component of the nation’s legacy. The UK’s heritage industry is heavily influenced by this architecture. There are over 400,000 legally recognised historical sites in England, according to the Bidwells Heritage Team. Among them, 95 per cent of these buildings are listed structures with considerable cultural or historical value.

Buildings are only one aspect of the country’s extensive architectural legacy. Approximately 18 World Heritage Sites, 20,000 Listed Historical Monuments, more than 1,600 gardens and parks, close to 50 battlefields, and nearly 50 protected shipwrecks are also included in this list of buildings.

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Why is the Heritage Market Important?

The national economy and the housing market in the UK both heavily rely on heritage. How the UK’s heritage industry affects employment, and economic growth was thoroughly examined in Historic England’s 2017 Heritage Counts report. The following numbers were among the key findings:
• Gross Value Added (GVA) for the heritage market is £11.9 billion.
• The heritage sector employs 278,000 people.
• £9.6 billion was generated in the construction industry due to historic building upkeep and repair.
• Spending on heritage tourism, including local and foreign tourists, is worth £16.4 billion.

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Tourism and Heritage Architecture

Historic architecture is one of the most common man-made attractions and aesthetic elements that the tourist sector greatly enjoys. The value this attraction adds to boosting destination competitiveness is also significant. Historic structures serve as essential anchors for heritage tourism. These deep, physical links to our history are how individuals now engage with the past.

The Heritage Counts’ findings indicate how England’s distinct historic landscape draws millions of tourists annually, contributing significantly to the economy and national employment development.

In 2016, historic attractions accounted for half of England’s top 10 most popular paid attractions. The Tower of London, the top attraction on the list, attracted 2.7 million visitors. The Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a listed structure. With 1.5 million visits, St. Paul’s Cathedral was the sixth-most popular attraction in the country. In the English Baroque style, Sir Christopher Wren designed this excellent piece of architecture, which is a Grade I listed structure.

With 1.2 million tourists, Westminster Abbey was ranked #10. The Gothic abbey church, listed as Grade I, is renowned for its magnificence. The iconic Stonehenge was rated seventh with 1.4 million tourists, and Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens came in at number three with 1.8 million people. The tourist industry in the United Kingdom is growing; it is anticipated that spending in 2013 totalled £113 billion.

Tourism’s positive worth is seen in the economic gains that cities and their residents may make through home rentals, business investments, real estate sales, building rentals, home renovations, and settlement and territory infrastructure improvements. As a result, many countries around the globe spend a lot of money to protect and preserve their cultural legacy. Additionally, historic structures are increasingly recognized as important sites for bridging generations and serving as destinations for heritage tourism. Our quality of life is improved, and community cohesiveness is preserved by revitalizing older communities, including the architecture and landscape.

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Heritage Architects: Protection and Conservation

The practice of preserving change to a historical item in a way that maintains and, when necessary, increases its relevance is known as conservation. We are all interested in restoring our historic structures for future use. It ensures that the physical expression of earlier generations may be appreciated and experienced by present and future generations.

It’s more crucial than ever to ensure that these structures are conserved from damage, significant architectural alterations, or other interference. The 1967 Civic Amenities Act, passed a little over 50 years ago, established the UK’s Conservation Area law to achieve this goal. The purpose of enacting the Act was to “further provide for the conservation and enhancement of structures of historical or architectural importance and the character of such interest areas.”

Surveys are commissioned by Historic England to look at the socioeconomic trends, housing conditions, and public perceptions of the country’s conservation zones. Results from 2017 revealed strong support, with 74 per cent of respondents believing that local authorities should have the power to impose restrictions on building renovations to preserve their character and look. This percentage was significantly more significant in the dialogue regions, where 83% of the locals concurred.


Are you Renovating a Historic Property?

Protecting heritage buildings is critical, but this may provide some challenges for a property owner. How can you make repairs and renovations to a lovely historical property you’ve just bought while adhering to construction regulations for protected (listed) structures?

The urge to protect our cultural riches gives meaning to the work we undertake every day at Bidwells. We are committed to preserving the most prestigious and modest historic sites for future generations, whether for communities or private owners. We approach projects with the knowledge that every structure has a specific personality, as well as its own unique challenges.

Heritage architects can help with research, historic building assessments, heritage planning, rehabilitation, restoration, feasibility studies, and other services. Get in touch with HL Architects in Durham to learn more about our innovative yet practical approach to preserving historic architecture.