English Heritage has praised work done to revive Liverpool's Ropewalk district of the city centre in a new good practice guide.
Valuing Places: Good Practice in Conservation Areas cites Ropewalks as an example of how statutory action by the local authority, financial incentives and grant aid can breathe new life into a neglected area.
The ropewalks, a central district of 18th century merchants' houses and business premises in Duke Street, suffered years of dereliction before intensive public investment re-started in 1989.
Twenty buildings in Ropewalks have benefitted from £1.4m in grants from the Heritage Lottery fund, the North West Development Agency, Liverpool City Council and English Heritage.
Urgent works notices have also been served on the owners of many buildings to encourage them to make repairs.
After five Urgent Works Notices were served on owners, a further 20 owners repaired properties before their notices were issued.
However, binge drinking in Concert Square's bars is the cause for complaint among local residents in the area. Liverpool Vision and the council are planning to 'design out' the excessive drinking culture by introducing a greater range of catering into the square.
Henry Owen-John, English Heritage's regional director, said: "The report aims to inspire councils, civic societies and community groups to replicate the methods and success achieved by others, as highlighted in a series of powerful case studies. Conservation areas offer a golden opportunity for people to take heritage into their own hands and to decide what they value and how they want to protect and enhance it. These are places where people live, work and play – whether or not they are well cared for has a huge affect on our quality of life."
The guide advocates a three three-step process to improving conservation areas, underpinned by the need to gain and maintain popular support:
- get general agreement on what elements of the conservation area are architecturally or historically significant
- find ways of protecting these while providing guidance on how less important elements can be adapted or replaced to meet society's changing needs
- ensure that new buildings and changes reinforce local character rather than detract from it.
For a copy of Valuing Places: Good Practice in Conservation Areas you can download a pdf from www.english-heritage.org.uk/conservationareas or contact Customer Services Tel: 0870 333 1181 firstname.lastname@example.org