Portsmouth Ranked in English Top 10 for Heritage and Culture

Portsmouth has been ranked 9th in a list of English  cities rated on their heritage and cultural assets and activities reports Sarah Cheverton.

The Heritage Index was compiled by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) in collaboration with the Heritage Lottery Fund. It aims to reveal how towns and cities can make better use of heritage assets to boost local identity, improve the well-being of residents and increase tourism.

Divided into local authority areas, the index ranks both heritage and cultural assets and activity set out across several categories, including historic built environment; museums, archives and artefacts; industrial heritage; parks and open spaces; landscape and natural heritage; and cultures and memories.

The Heritage Index brings together over 100 data sets, with indicators such as nature reserves, heritage open days, archaeological groups and pubs that have been given protection as community assets.

It is hoped that the report will encourage local authorities and communities to make more of local heritage and culture.

Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Carole Souter said, “We hope this new Index will help communities to better understand their heritage; identify its potential; and capitalise on what makes their areas distinctive. We hope it will encourage debate about what heritage is and how it is best recognised and properly exploited in local plans.”

Portsmouth was ranked 9th in the national top ten for heritage and cultural assets and 36th for its heritage and cultural activity. The city was positioned 12th of 325 local authority areas overall, and was noted in the Index findings as one of a small number of areas found to be rich in local heritage and cultural activity despite being home to a number of relatively poor communities.

Closer examination of the data used to judge Portsmouth’s performance yielded some interesting facts, including that we are home to:

  • 2 Wildlife Trust Reserves
  • 34 Blue Plaques
  • 17 heritage sector businesses employing 296 people
  • 454 listed buildings (Grades I, II* and II)
  • 18 scheduled monuments
  • 30 conservation areas

The report also showed that no pubs in Portsmouth have yet been listed as Assets of Community Value.

Portsmouth scored high in a number of areas overall in the report, including:

  • Industrial heritage – 2nd in the country overall for assets and activity, in the top 1% nationally.
  • Landscape and natural heritage – 10th in the country overall for assets and activity, in the top 4% nationally.
  • Museums, archives and artefacts – 16th in the country overall for assets and activity, in the top 5% nationally.

For the local historic built environment, Portsmouth was rated 119th in the country overall, with our assets rated higher at 77th of 325 local authorities nationwide. Local activity linked to the historic built environment was placed much lower in 235th place, suggesting this is an area the city could develop further.

The city performed lowest in Parks and Open Spaces, where it scored 263rd place overall, although activity in parks and open spaces in Portsmouth was ranked higher at 171st place nationally.

Culture and memories – a category judged on a number of factors, including the number of blue plaques and levels of HLF funding the city has attracted in the last 5 years – scored only 182nd for Portsmouth.

News of the survey was promoted on Twitter by The Portsmouth Society last week, generating a friendly debate between Star & Crescent and Council Leader, Donna Jones, who light-heartedly suggested it was “Amazing” that Portsmouth received such great results for heritage and culture “within 15 months of a Conservative run Portsmouth City Council.”

Challenged by Star & Crescent as to whether the Tories or Lib Dems could really take credit for centuries of Portsmouth’s culture and heritage, the Leader replied, “You’re quite right Star and Crescent, but can’t blame a girl for trying.”

S&C Twitter Donna Jones