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English Heritage has just published a paper Heritage and Growth which makes a convincing and timely case to show that Heritage can help the UK economy grow faster, makes a significant contribution to existing economic activity and is not a barrier to growth. The timing is of course welcome because the Government is currently pushing an agenda based on the somewhat chilling mantra that development is OK if it’s “sustainable” (what development isn’t, once the damage has been done?).

Sadly though it’s only high profile destinations such as Stonhenge, Warwick Castle, Bath and York that are associated with mass tourism and since those are little threatened by the new rush to build houses the government can claim that the tourism pound isn’t threatened by their policies. In which case, who will speak up in defence of  the thousands of “minor antiquities” that don’t attract tourists but some of which are sure to be blighted or swept away by new developments?

Maybe English Heritage needs to write an additional paper championing the idea that Heritage doesn’t have to offer a financial return in order to deliver cultural enrichment? Would the Government (and its close advisors on this matter, the Heads of various national building firms) be persuaded? Is the Pope a pagan?!

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