How the '15-minute city' can inspire heritage in Wales

Kay Andrews. Image credit: Joe McGorty
Our new Welsh grant programme takes inspiration from a planning concept which says people should be able to meet most of their needs within 15 minutes of their home.

Loving where you live

While the circumstances of the past six months have been challenging for everyone, one hugely positive factor to come out of the pandemic is a greater awareness and appreciation of our local environment. 

Many of us, myself included, are guilty of not appreciating what we are lucky enough to find at our own front door. Sometimes we are so familiar with our everyday surroundings that we simply can’t see clearly what interesting and important things surround us. 

But recently, staying local and walking more has meant I have reacquainted myself with long forgotten nature trails and local landmarks – and what a pleasure this has been. And I know it is not just me that has found their heart being lifted in this way: it is well-established that connecting individuals with nature and heritage can contribute enormously to a sense of wellbeing and purpose. 

National Botanic Garden of Wales
National Botanic Garden of Wales

New funding for hyper-local heritage

Local heritage is something we have long championed here at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, so when historic environment body Cadw approached us and offered to team up to deliver new funding for hyper-local heritage, we of course jumped at the chance. 

Together we recently launched the 15-Minute Heritage grants programme - inspired by the ‘15-minute city’ concept developed by Professor Carlos Moreno at Sorbonne University in Paris - that will help people strengthen the connections they have with their immediate surrounding environment. 

A sense of place and belonging

At The Fund we see ‘heritage’ not purely as museums, castles and historic buildings – though of course it is all of those things – but as anything that helps you feel you belong in a place or to a place. Cultural memory is just as important an anchor in our lives as anything tangible: just because you can’t touch it, doesn’t mean it can’t touch you. 

Maybe whenever you hear a particular piece of music from the local chapel, or post a letter in the same post box that your parents or grandparents used, or you order fish and chips from a shop that has been many things in its community since it was built 200 years ago, you feel that attraction, that special sense of belonging. 

It is this sense of place that we want to help people capture with these new grants, to encourage them to record their stories and find out more about where they live.

It could mean the creation of new walking trails, informative window displays, engaging digital resources or interpretive panels. Innovative ideas for identifying and celebrating local heritage through art, theatre or story-telling will also be welcomed, if they inspire people to take a greater interest in their local places.

St Mary's Church in Gladestry, south Wales
St Mary's Church in Gladestry, south Wales

Helping to keep memories alive

Local heritage makes and shapes the community around it, and it is something everyone should have access to, and the opportunity to appreciate and understand. 

Thanks to our partnership with Cadw, and National Lottery players, people will have the opportunity to preserve memories of their local landscape and keep them alive for future generations. I cannot wait to see people’s ideas and help support them to become a reality.

Applying for a 15-Minute Heritage Grant

Grants of £3,000-£10,000 are available to support a huge variety of different activities. 

The deadline for applications is 14 October 2020, and projects must complete by 31 March 2021.

Read the full criteria and guidance and apply online.