Distinctiveness and heritage value
People are increasingly looking to live, work and invest in places they feel are distinctive in some way - they have identity and character because of heritage, art, history, culture, community, vernacular. Understanding what is distinctive and valuable about a place for local stakeholders is key to developing a truly sustainable town centre plan.+ Case Study: Twickenham Town Centre Management Board
Distinctiveness can make all the difference between local success and failure
This specialist study evaluated the degree of ‘clone town’ status and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that Twickenham faces with regards to its distinctive assets and local sourcing. We were commissioned to cross-examine best practice from other similar towns, and produced a holistic analysis of the existing commercial character of Twickenham town centre, alongside robust recommendations for creating a distinct sense of place. nef consulting also facilitated engagement meetings with the town’s landlords, and advised on the marketing materials produced for potential new retailers, promoting practical steps on sustaining distinctiveness, local economy and heritage value within their commercial operations.
Distinctiveness can help engage local stakeholders is developing a sense of local identity
North Kesteven District Council (NKDC) commissioned nef consulting to investigate how the council and residents could improve the sustainability and identity of Sleaford town centre. Through use of appreciative inquiry surveys, local stakeholders identified those assets of Sleaford that matter most to them; their experience of Sleaford, i.e. with regard to well-being, distinctiveness, and resilience (and how this experience can be improved). These techniques coupled with nef tools designed to understand local money flows created a framework for change for NKDC to harness the power of local stakeholders to improve Sleaford as a place to live, to work, and to shop.
The report and subsequent sustainability framework is now a part of NKDC's material planning considerations for all future developments.
There is evidence that building on genuine distinctiveness promotes long-term economic, social and environmental well-being that is authentic, locally driven, and sustainable. Community and economic regeneration efforts can also be improved by preserving and extending that sense of local distinctiveness.
nef consulting have developed and tested a practical socio-economic analysis methodology that identifies and enhances the distinctiveness of towns or cities to promote thriving communities and sustainable economic growth. The analysis helps clients make important decisions about urban development and regeneration projects, through the following benefits:
Measuring what matters: Everywhere has distinctive assets, but many of them are hidden and difficult to measure using conventional economic techniques, yet they underpin the long-term success of a place.
Hidden assets: Small phenomena are often just as important as big ones when you look more closely at distinctiveness. It is often the cumulative minutiae of a place that makes it distinctive, and these can be recorded and realised as more tangible economic assets.
Flexibility: The process can be tailored to meet specific client needs, and to reflect the characteristics of people and place.
Recommendations: Clients get a series of practical recommendations for action to enhance an area’s distinctiveness, many of which need little or no additional resources to realise.
Public and private sector: So far we have delivered eight distinctiveness studies for private sector developers and local authorities alike, to inform their consultation processes, as well as to guide developments practically.
Development plans: You can integrate the findings into immediate development plans, or use them to inform longer-term branding, or underpin marketing campaigns.
Find out more in the brochure: (download)