District defends poor ranking in tourism survey

Cogglesford Mill.
Cogglesford Mill.

North Kesteven has fared badly in a survey of heritage assets and what it does to promote them within the country, but the district council says it is competing in other ways.

According to the new 2016 Royal Society of Arts Heritage Index, produced in collaboration with the Heritage Lottery Fund, the annual index combines everything from historic buildings to local delicacies, revealing which local areas are best at using heritage to foster a distinctive identity – and which could do better.

North Kesteven is at the bottom of the heritage asset index for the East Midlands. However, what it does with its heritage assets lifts the area into the top 10 per cent for some of its activity.

More scope is highlighted for increased activity around the ‘limited’ museum, archives and artefacts locally and in making more use of parks and open spaces; all of which is already in planning now that Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre has museum status, work is progressing on restoring Mrs Smith’s Cottage and significant investment is bearing fruit at Whisby Natural World Centre.

Andy McDonough who heads up North Kesteven’s tourism and heritage teams, said: “We obviously can’t conjure up traditional orchards, historic ships, listed parks and gardens, Grade 1 listed buildings, ancient woodlands and the like but what we can do – and what we do do – is to make the most of what we do have, seek to protect and enhance it and engage the public more fully with it.

“We are certainly not lagging behind in heritage-based activities and that is a significant factor in drawing a growing number of visitors to the area – 2.3million last year.

“Year on year we see more and more activity based around those assets.”