Local area guidance

This guidance is designed to help you meet our priority outcome: the local area will be a better place to live, work or visit.

We welcome projects that take a Local Area or place-based approach through National Lottery Grants for Heritage. We want heritage funding to contribute to making your area a better place to live, work and visit.

"The experience of the lockdowns and social distancing in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) has been a powerful reminder of the value and importance of the local area."

What is a local area or place-based project?

Place-based working is about identifying challenges and opportunities in the heritage of a place, and developing partnerships to make improvements in that place.

As a result of enhancing the heritage of the area, local people will report that they feel it is better place to live, work or visit. This can be through direct changes your project makes to the local area or place. It can also come through opportunities you provide for local people to get involved with, visit and enjoy heritage.

We want the projects we fund to have a positive impact for both people and places. Heritage can be at the heart of joined-up thinking to create better places for people to live, work and visit. A project focused on a local area will meet priorities expressed by communities and locally published strategies.

When we talk about focusing on a local place, we don’t just mean funding activities in a particular geographic location. We are interested in a place-based approach to designing and delivering a project that:

  • Is collaborative, bringing in a range of local partners and participants.
  • Is embedded in local strategies.
  • Aims to deliver changes and improvements to local places during and beyond the life of the project.

The importance of place on wellbeing

"Lockdowns and social distancing have led to an increase in walking, cycling, shopping, exercise and recreation locally. This has resulted in a greater awareness of the area and environment around us."

The experience of the lockdowns and social distancing in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) has been a powerful reminder of the value and importance of the local area. It has shown how connecting with heritage and nature can be critical for maintaining mental and physical wellbeing.

Lockdowns and social distancing have led to an increase in walking, cycling, shopping, exercise and recreation locally. This has resulted in a greater awareness of the area and environment around us.

Whatever the local area, it will have a story to tell and can connect people to where they live, work and visit. We know better places have an impact on the quality of people’s lives and enhance wellbeing.

The local area outcome can include a whole range of project types, large and small. At its core is the aim to improve places for people, with heritage at the heart.

Examples of place-based projects

Greening places

Enhancing urban green spaces and bringing people closer to nature.

Local places

Improving heritage – historic buildings, places, local studies libraries, museums etc. Involving communities and developing doorstep discovery activities.

Communal places

Enhancing the heritage of places where people come together, including parks, sea fronts, high streets, local museums and all the spaces in-between.

Liveable places

Bringing life back to neglected areas and spaces.

What makes a successful local area or place-based project?

Including networks in your planning will make a big difference. One of our Register of Support Services consultants recently reported: “[people and communities] with networks, plugged in locally and with resilient strategies, are better placed to address the pandemic situation and have an eye on the future, be agile and manage uncertainty.”

Projects might be linked into investment and enhancement schemes locally and with other heritage assets or organisations.

They might include physical improvements to the local area or connect people with their local heritage through digital technology. Even when local communities can’t meet face to face, they can make use of social media groups and work together online.

Three top tips for considering the local area in your project

Think local

Whether your heritage is a small, medium or large – from a small interpretation project to a large heritage regeneration projection – think local.

How will your project contribute to the local area? What local priorities and strategies will it help deliver?

Work together

Make connections with other local organisations or community groups. Think beyond heritage and local history and involve other types of organisations in your project. Relationships and partnerships with community anchor organisations are an important part of many successful local and place-based projects.

Reach out

Involving people of different ages and backgrounds will help you offer a range of activities, digital methods and learning activities to make a more enjoyable, varied experiences for everyone.

This will help you fulfil out mandatory outcome of involving a wider range of people in heritage. Reveal new stories so places are as relevant to as many people as possible.

The local area will be a better place to live, work or visit

What the outcome means

If your project is a success, people will see an improvement in their local area and have opportunities to connect with its heritage.

As a result of enhancing the heritage of the area, or from the opportunities you have provided, local people will report that the area is a better place to live, work or visit.

There will be a feeling of greater pride in the local area and a stronger sense of community. Visitors will find it easy to plan their trip and access information ahead of time.

What we are looking for

As a direct result of your project, people should recognise improvements in their local area and report increased appreciation for a community’s shared places and spaces.

Visitors will also tell you an area has improved. They will highlight what they value about it.

Projects should take into account the vision for improvements that people who live, work and visit an area have.

Our aim is to ensure heritage can make a greater contribution to people’s lives, communities and places. This is best achieved through partnerships and collaboration with local heritage and communities.

Things that show a local area is a better place to live, work and visit:

  • Heritage in all its forms will have contributed to a more ‘liveable’ place, and a better place to visit. Residents or visitors will recognise improvements.
  • Whatever the project size – be it a garden, park, building, waterway, heritage site, high street, local museum, town, city, area, landscape, coastline and everything in between – evaluation will show improvement to the area and for people.
  • Heritage will have transformed a local area. For example, this could be through community led regeneration of a rescued building or through people volunteering at the local park, canal or heritage site.
  • An area’s uniqueness is protected and celebrated, generating stronger connections with local people and communities.
  • An improved sense of place – some areas have a distinct identity which can inspire people to support local heritage and connect with others.
  • People who have been united to improve their local area are now contributing to stronger, more resilient communities.
  • A wider range of people will be involved in looking after the heritage of a place, increasing its resilience.
  • Local communities are better able to care for their heritage following your project.
  • Your project has linked to local strategies or Local Government Plans for heritage.
  • Your project has connected the physical, social and economic needs of people who live, work and visit an area.

Further reading and useful resources

Area-based schemes

For larger projects, you might consider applying for area-based scheme funding. These schemes form part of a wider strategy or ambition to improve the condition and management of areas of historic or landscape value. Connecting people to heritage sits at the heart of these schemes.

Heritage Enterprise

If your heritage project is over £250,000, has a community and commercial organisation working in partnership and seeks to achieve economic growth by investing in heritage, Heritage Enterprise funding may be suitable. This funding is designed to rescue neglected historic buildings and sites and return them to a viable productive use.

RSA Heritage Index 2020

Every local area has untapped ‘heritage potential’. Heritage assets can be used to improve the local area, especially to promote post-COVID recovery locally.

Produced in partnership with The National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Royal Society for Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA) Heritage Index 2020 looks at which places have the most ‘heritage potential’ by local authority area. This includes:

  • historic built environment
  • people, parks and open spaces
  • industrial heritage
  • landscape and natural heritage
  • culture and memories

The index is a useful guide for finding likely opportunities both tangible and intangible in the area and can help to measure change over time. There’s an interactive map where you can find your local area.

Great Place Scheme

Our investment in Great Place Schemes across the UK is showing how heritage can become more central to wider local agendas, such as health and education, in both rural and urban settings. This is the idea of ‘networked heritage’ in action.

Read our recent reports for more information:

Project examples

Visit the Our work page of our website for project ideas across a range of heritage.

You can also search ‘In your area’ or our ‘News & stories’ for inspirational ideas.

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