The cultural heritage of historic cities not only has a role to play in making these cities attractive, it must also adapt to new economic, demographic and environmental challenges. For a long time, cultural heritage was managed as a separate subject, but today, it needs to be integrated into the overall city development policy. The nine partners in the HerO project set out to facilitate the balance between preserving cultural heritage and sustainable socio-economic development in historical cities in order to strengthen their attractiveness and competitiveness.
HerO developed a new approach to integrated management designed to allow cultural heritage to play a catalysing role in sustainable development through an “Integrated Cultural Heritage Management Plan”. HerO makes four recommendations and offers a three-step methodology for successfully implementing such a plan.
Four recommendations for policy makers who set out on the road towards the integrated management of their historical heritage:
1. Make cultural heritage a top policy priority
This is the only way to attract funding from local and regional Managing Authorities, who can then act as key catalysts for further investment from the private sector and from other public funds, including European structural funds.
2. Develop an integrated approach
Using the methodology that was proven effective by HerO, based on a strong support coming from the municipality. This leadership makes it possible to overcome sectorial or departmental priorities and to federate the stakeholders around a shared project.
Involving inhabitants and users and taking their expectations into account enables the definition of a coordinated and integrated approach that is sustainable over time.4. Focus on action and delivery
This means policy and managerial support, cooperation with Managing Authorities to secure funding, and setting up a coordinated structure with procedures for evaluation and monitoring that make it possible to adapt to needs as they change over time.
A guidebook: How to develop an integrated cultural heritage management plan in three steps
This 80-page book, written for municipal teams and practitioners, details the methodology that was put into practice by the nine partner cities in the HerO project over three years. The guidebook contains city case studies, testimonials, and recommendations, along with an appendix with examples of integrated plans that proved effective in various European cities classed by Unesco as World Heritage sites. Here is a summary of the three chronological steps that are recommended:
- Preparatory phase: The integrated plan must have a solid basis and real legitimacy, both among inhabitants and users of the city’s historical centre and in terms of meeting real needs. For that, the HerO project identified four elements that are key to the successful application of this approach. Building a Local Support Group, which will be in charge of developing the integrated plan with the municipality, should be the opportunity to bring all the stakeholders to the table (local public and private along with the Managing Authority). This teamwork and control over the constraints of other partners will provide key coordination crucial for the future of the project. In a second phase, analysing the current situation (management instruments, urbanisation plans, etc.) and identifying the challenges, expectations, and leads for making progress will lead to the development of a detailed road map. This initial plan will be important for securing political support from the municipality to continue the project and funding for the development phase.
- Development phase: The future of the joint project to safeguard and sustainably develop historical areas depends on this phase of consultation and coordination. The representative of the municipality in charge of writing the final plan should work closely with the Local Support Group. The latter can, if necessary, be split into working groups in order to get a deeper look at all the areas of action and the stakeholders needed for integrated management of the historical centre (environment, culture, tourism, urban planning, communication, etc.). Public debates could provide additional opportunities for discussions that could lead to a shared vision of the future of the neighbourhood. This consensus and the previously identified challenges will then serve to formally develop the integrated management plan based on clearly defined objectives and actions. At this point of the project, it is necessary to begin securing funding for the action phases—notably with the support of the Managing Authorities who should be kept informed of the projects—and to define a framework and procedure for implementations.
- Implementation phase: This long-term development plan can only be implemented successfully if it associated with an on-going monitoring process. That is why it is essential, prior to the implementation phase, to identify the progress indicators and to have implemented an overall results monitoring procedure. Where applicable, these tools also enable proactive revising of certain aspects of the initial plan.