Community counts when saving county heritage

29 January 2015

Buxton is living proof that community counts in the battle to preserve an area’s heritage, the woman in charge of one of Derbyshire’s most important historical sites will demonstrate at a public lecture at the University of Derby’s campus in the town.

Sarah McLeod

Sarah McLeod, Chief Executive of the Arkwright Society, which is based at the epicentre of the Industrial Revolution at Cromford Mills, will use the regeneration of Buxton as an example of the importance of public consultation in her lecture, Community Counts, at 6pm on February 26.

She said: “We have some fine examples of projects in the county from Buxton which is a huge town regeneration scheme led by the local authority with a strong community consultation programme to the Bonsall Field Barns Project, which is an extraordinary ‘against all odds’ project led entirely by local volunteers. I will also be highlighting just what a powerful role communities can play when projects are not fashionable with funders.”

Many of the traditional funding posts have now dried up and others such as the Heritage Lottery Fund demand a financially sustainable outcome.

Sarah added: "This is understandable and all well and good, but sometimes there isn’t a sustainable solution, but that doesn’t detract from how passionate a community may feel about a building or place. Bonsall Field Barns are a typical example of that. The community didn’t want to convert them into visitor centres, houses or community centres – just back into good old fashioned barns for cattle and sheep. Are they sustainable? Not in the long term, but that has not stopped this amazing community group from taking on the challenge, often that tenacity comes far more readily from the local community than it ever can from a private developer."