St Helens Council’s cabinet has agreed to publish a document which sets out a bold and ambitious vision for the borough’s heritage over the next ten years.
The St Helens Borough Heritage Opportunities document has been put together to assess the borough’s heritage assets, advise how they can be used more effectively to help communities celebrate local history and identity – as well as boost visitor economy and town centre regeneration prospects. Feeding into a wider strategy which links heritage with arts, events and volunteering, the document was completed before the outbreak of coronavirus but will allow the council to look at how organised heritage attractions, sites and green spaces can be used as part of the long-term future of the local visitor economy scene. Short to medium targets would look to establish a St Helens Borough plaque scheme; improve heritage signage and markers; and work with the English Cities Fund to ensure that heritage and arts are considered part of regeneration plans. The document also suggests the completion of a Haydock Industrial Trail, as well as the introduction of four more new heritage trails around St Helens – similar to a six-mile circular heritage health walk which launched in Newton-le-Willows in March 2017 to celebrate the area’s proud history. Commenting on the St Helens Borough Heritage Opportunities document – which comes just a matter of months since the council announced plans to bring the iconic Gamble Building and Earlestown Town Hall back into public use – Councillor Anthony Burns said: “Over the past few months we’ve seen residents visit and explore the beautiful sights our borough has to offer as part of their exercise plans during the lockdown. Areas such as The Dream at Bold Forest Park; Carr Mill Dam; Sankey Canal, and the summit of Billinge Hill which is the highest point in Merseyside. “St Helens is a borough built on heritage, and while it’s important to look forward, we must ensure our incredible past is part of an exciting future, as we look to build on all our strengths. Our heritage is important to us and we need to celebrate it more throughout the borough.” Councillor Burns, whose cabinet title has been amended to public health, leisure, libraries, arts and heritage to recognise the important role arts and heritage plays in the borough, added: “We should be proud to have so many listed buildings, parks, open spaces, and landmarks all within a few miles of each other which may not have been used to their full potential – so now is the time to capitalise on these assets to ensure the public are able to get the most of them, and ensure future generations know what an extraordinary place our borough really is.”