How should heritage decisions be made?

Heritage Hit Squad: not just saving old buildings, but campaigning for better new buildings

Heritage Hit Squad
20th June, 11am-5pm
Manchester Digital Laboratory

Report by Naomi Roberts, MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies, University of Leeds

Themes running through the conversations at the Heritage Hit Squad event – held as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Connected Communities Festival – centered around a lack of local government interest or concern in Manchester’s heritage, and the issue of current architectural commissions being poorly designed.

It was discussed whether Manchester Civic Society becoming less effective has opened up space for a new faction that could also work towards enabling communities become more aware and involved in the local issues often concealed. London Road Fire Station has gathered an army of 200 volunteers who are eager to help but have no space to train. It would be beneficial for organisations to share resources but with personal time scarce, establishing a platform to communicate these ideas is unlikely/challenging?

Save the Oxford Road Corner campaign is an example of how campaigners can work together and broadcast their goals to a wider audience through smart social network tools; however with lobbyists vying for limited funding there is often competition between groups who quite often have shared aims and are fighting against the same opponent, the Save Library Walk was successful in bringing together people from many groups because it did not need money.

Whilst councils have bowed to intimidation, not applied their authority in saving vulnerable buildings and English Heritage seemingly helpless in putting their powers to effect, the group explored if would it be more productive to campaign for better architecture? Rather than fight to stop buildings being demolished, is there a chance that we could stop bad buildings being built? Whatever the next step is for now, it’s clear that a long term strategy demands to be developed to create a new model for heritage and the built environment.

Outcomes since the event:
• Groups have written guest posts for MadLab’s website.
• MadLab have been championing their work more via social media in particular.
• MadLab are supporting London Road and Skyliner to get the word out about a development on “Pomona Island”. See:

For more information see:

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