Heritage activism – a force for good ?

Wednesday 25th June, 2014 | 8am-9.30am

Sanderson London
50 Berners Street
London W1 3NG

Britain has a remarkably open planning system with a strong culture of consultation. But public opinion on what should be retained has moved from the scholarly to the community and to the popular. Public participation in urban renewal frequently refreshes outdated heritage values and can derail major regeneration proposals.

Recent examples include the Southbank Centre’s £120m redevelopment plan, which was thrown into disarray after Boris Johnson declared that a part of the complex used by skateboarders should be left unchanged and  the Geffrye Museum, whose proposal to demolish a unlisted pub was rejected after a vigorous local campaign

Thanks to social media and new technologies, how these campaigns operate has changed and heritage organisations must change with them.  But anyone involved in major planning decisions or development proposals – from architects to local authorities –  will also need to take account of potential resistance, not from the learned societies but from vociferous, media-savvy local groups and multiple networks.

Similarly for The Heritage Alliance, the voice of the independent heritage groups in England, some recent high- profile cases demonstrate huge interest in heritage but how to absorb the energy of these heritage activists is a challenge for the Alliance and many of its member organisations.



Loyd Grossman is an entrepreneur, writer and broadcaster who has had a long involvement with museums and heritage in the UK.
A former Commissioner of English Heritage and of the Museums and Galleries Commission, he is Chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust and Chairman of the Heritage Alliance. He is also President of NADFAS, Deputy Chair of The Prince's Drawing School, a member of the board of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions and a Governor of the Building Crafts College.

Loyd was born in Boston, and educated at Boston University (BA), the London School of Economics (MSc Econ) and Magdalene College Cambridge (MPhil, PhD). He is an Emeritus Governor of the LSE and a member of the Council of the British School at Rome.