Much still to do for our her­itage city

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Letters And Opinion - Mike But­ler Old Dover Road, Can­ter­bury

The snip­pet on Unesco Can­ter­bury’s 30th birth­day is a vi­tal re­minder of the city’s tourism/cul­tural/vis­i­tor/ pil­grim po­ten­tial. The three main sites have all been up and run­ning since 1997, when the Abbey vis­i­tor cen­tre opened. What we need from our World Her­itage City in this re­gard is “a thriv­ing, in­te­grated and eas­ily nav­i­ga­ble three-part Unesco do­main that wel­comes vis­i­tors and com­pre­hen­sively pro­vides the story of English Chris­tian­ity from the time of St Au­gus­tine”.

Apart from the Cathe­dral, Abbey and St Martins, there are three other key part­ners, the King’s School, Christ Church Univer­sity and the city coun­cil. The 2002 Man­age­ment Plan was clear on the vi­sion. There is still much to be done – a web­site, a clearly marked three-site trail, linked up city sig­nage, and clear Unesco wel­comes at bus and train sta­tions and all car parks and park and rides. Maps in the city cen­tre would be use­ful. Re­newal and mod­erni­sa­tion of our brown road her­itage sig­nage us­ing Unesco lo­gos next to the city’s colour­ful coat of arms. Not to men­tion bold, tar­geted mar­ket­ing from all lo­cal in­ter­ested par­ties in London, par­tic­u­larly at St Pan­cras In­ter­na­tional. Ox­ford and Cam­bridge, for ex­am­ple, are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a growth in for­eign vis­i­tors; Can­ter­bury cur­rently is not.

This is vi­tal to the city’s com­merce and fu­ture. Thus far this amaz­ing in­ter­na­tional project af­ter 30 years has had no co-or­di­na­tor to ac­tu­ally de­liver the project. Un­sur­pris­ingly, much of the 2002 plan is still not yet com­pleted. A new five-year plan is due. All par­ties must rise to the chal­lenge and co-fund a co-or­di­na­tor. All suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional projects any­where are re­sourced. In the in­tro­duc­tion to the 2002 plan the then Arch­bishop Ge­orge de­clared the “im­por­tance of hav­ing a prop­erly co­or­di­nated and re­sourced plan”. Time to do some proper re­sourc­ing and show that the city means to op­ti­mise this rare and pre­cious as­set in a holis­tic fash­ion. Happy Birth­day Unesco.

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