Expert urges city to capitalise on its heritage

THE city of Waterford should be making the most of its 1,100-year history to build sustainable economic growth and an enhanced quality of life, according to a British heritage expert.

A conference on regeneration and opportunities for growth will take place in Waterford on September 23 and among those due to speak is Christina Lister of Norwich Heritage and Regeneration Trust (HEART).

The charitable trust plans, regenerates, champions and promotes the English city’s heritage and its value in driving social and economic regeneration.

The conference is being hosted by Waterford Chamber in association with the city council and the city development board and will take place in the Theatre Royal.

Other speakers include Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe, Mayor of Waterford Mary Roache, National Museum director Dr Patrick Wallace, and several Irish and international heritage experts.

Ahead of her Waterford presentation, Ms Lister described the potential of heritage leading regeneration.

“In Waterford, I will be presenting Norwich as a case study for how heritage can be a vehicle and driver for regeneration.

“In Norwich, there is an integrated approach to heritage-led regeneration. This delivers measurable economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits and demonstrates why heritage should not be seen as a marginal issue of interest to only a small minority.”

She said that, in Waterford, there is a growing recognition of the area’s huge asset in its “treasure trove of buildings spanning centuries” within a compact city centre.

“Our experience in Norwich suggests one of the key elements is to bring together the public, private, community and voluntary sectors to collaborate – I believe that is happening in Waterford and that can give the city a real kick-start.”

Other themes to be discussed at the conference include the use of technologies to showcase history.

Waterford Chamber president Tom Murran said that, as Ireland’s oldest city and one that “wasn’t ruined by Celtic Tiger excesses”, Waterford has a huge opportunity.

“There’s a growing recognition that now is the time to capitalise on that. Importantly, this doesn’t just make our city more attractive to visitors – though this is important in itself. It also gives all of us a better city to live, work and play in.”

He described the work under way on the Viking Triangle and the wider regeneration of the city centre as “a tremendously exciting start to what can be a great journey for Waterford”.

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