2016 Yearbook

R E V I E W 19 HERITAGE AND VALUE HENRY RUSSELL Heritage is generally defined as inherited resources which have more than their mere utility value. In the UK, this has conventionally meant the nearly 500,000 listed buildings and scheduled monuments selected for protection by experts. But increasingly the historic environment is seen as having value ascribed by people and communities and not just the heritage experts. People are therefore integral to our appreciation and enjoyment of heritage. Since the publication of English Heritage’s report Power of Place: The Future of the Historic Environment in 2000, concepts of heritage have been changing and widening as people consider the area in which they live to be important to them and therefore a part of their heritage. This yearbook offers a series of articles on the theme of heritage, communities and people. In ‘The Case for Incentives’ Donovan Rypkema considers how building owners can be encouraged to maintain their historic buildings. A specialist in the economics of heritage, he looks at five tools which he argues are the essence of protecting heritage and considers how effective they are. He comes to the conclusion – perhaps not surprisingly – that the carrot of incentives combined with appropriate restrictions is more effective than using the stick of regulation as the only tool. For listed building owners, the principal and overriding value of their property is the financial one. The carrot is needed where there is a gap between the cost of repairing a historic building and its market value, where cost exceeds value. We speak of ‘conservation deficit’ to mean the same thing. In the United States there is a system of rehabilitation tax credits which has worked successfully for 30 years and still makes a net return to the federal government. In the UK, VAT relief on most works to listed buildings was removed in 2012. That needs to be reconsidered and tax credits on the US model might offer a way forward. A carrot indeed. Dave Chetwyn and Gerry Proctor also provide fresh insights into how the conservation deficit can be addressed, this time at the larger scale of the post-industrial urban neighbourhood and by drawing on people-power at the community level. Their article deals with the Baltic Triangle neighbourhood development proposals in Liverpool. Dave Chetwyn works in community planning and the historic environment and Gerry Proctor has been chair of Engage Liverpool for the last ten years. They argue that neighbourhood planning will change the culture of planning by bringing in a strong community element, and by extension the related values of community to their local area. Community buy-in to neighbourhood planning brings local expertise and knowledge to the process. Successful development has integrated historic buildings which in turn has led to an increase in property values, thus reducing the gap or conservation deficit. Even when the advantages appear to be a ‘no-brainer’ though, engaging individuals and communities in conservation isn’t always straightforward. Arguably, sometimes a little push is needed. Nudge theory has been in the news recently, foregrounded by the work of the Cabinet Office’s Behavioural Insights Team. ‘Nudging’ involves influencing people’s decision-making through sophisticated and gentle encouragement. In his article on the subject, Andrew McClelland looks at the conceptual underpinning and academic theory behind it. There is some debate over what constitutes a nudge. Arguably it is something that the advertising and marketing industries have been doing since their A converted late 19th-century warehouse in the heart of Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle (Photo: Simon Godley)