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Planning Practice & Research, Vol. 26, No.

pp. 147–165, April 2011


A Future for the Past: A New Theoretical

Model for Sustainable Historic Urban

Industrial regions across the developed world have experienced a period of steady decline since the
1960s. The regeneration of former industrial sites, particularly for tourism, has become an
expedient strategy for targeting the economic and social deprivation often associated with de-
industrialization. This places significant expectations on heritage not only as a contributor to the
more immediate regeneration process but also as a vehicle for long-term sustainable development.
Using data drawn from a case study of UK industrial World Heritage sites, this article presents
findings that indicate the need for procedural and institutional innovation if industrial heritage
sites are to respond to the challenge of sustainable development. The paper concludes with a
model of sustainable heritage management that is relevant to other complex historic sites.

Since the 1960s, many industrial cities and regions in Europe, the Americas and
Australia, have experienced a period of steady de-industrialization. In the UK,
for example, the mineral deposits that supported mining activity at the World
Heritage Listed Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape, Blaenavon
Industrial Landscape and Ironbridge Gorge have either been exhausted or
become unviable to extract. At other industrial World Heritage sites, such as the
textile centres of the Derwent Valley, New Lanark and Saltaire, obsolete
technology and global competition ended in closure of the last of the mills in the
mid-20th century. While the extent of the remaining original infrastructure
varies, all these sites, and many like them, have significant cultural value for
local communities. They also contribute, at a broader scale, to a collective
understanding of national identity.
Industrial sites such as these face several unique challenges beyond those
related to their unique scale, complexity and perceived heritage value (see
Figures 1, 2 and 3). The first of these challenges is the recent affirmation by the

Chris Landorf, Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, The University of Queensland, Brisbane,
QLD 4072, Australia. Email:

ISSN 0269-7459 print/1360-0583 online/11/020147–19 Ó 2011 Taylor & Francis 147

DOI: 10.1080/02697459.2011.560458
Chris Landorf

FIGURE 1. The seven-storey-high East Mill at Belper in the Derwent Valley.

FIGURE 2. The ironworks complex at Blaenavon in Wales.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that

‘the protection and conservation of the natural and cultural heritage are a
significant contribution to sustainable development’ (UNESCO, 2005, p. 2). This
implies an approach to site management that is long term, holistic and
participatory (Simpson, 2001; Brandon & Lombardi, 2005). The second
challenge is the increasing utilization of heritage and identity in public policy
(Robinson, 2005; Colomb, 2007; Bramley & Power, 2009). This implies an
approach to site management that values diversity and the continual evolution of
local traditions (Sullivan, 2004; Pendlebury, 2009). This is a challenge in areas
undergoing the socio-economic disruption associated with de-industrialization
and, as this paper will show, it is also closely tied to sustainable development.
Model for Sustainable Historic Urban Environments

FIGURE 3. The processing mill at Geevor mine in Cornwall.

So, what are the issues facing the sustainable use of industrial heritage sites such
as the tin mines of Cornwall and the textile mills of New Lanark, and how can the
conditions for their sustainable use be met? To date, several challenges relating to
sustainable development have been identified, including the inadequacies of
existing procedural and institutional frameworks to deal with the type of non-
linear relationships and multi-organizational collaborations needed to effectively
frame and implement sustainable development policy (Williams, 2006). Another
challenge is the lack of practical strategies for the implementation of sustainable
development, especially strategies that work to balance competing priorities and
vested interests across the economic, environmental and social dimensions of
sustainable development (Simpson 2001; Brandon & Lombardi, 2005). A further
challenge is the complexity of evaluating policy outcomes in such an
interconnected environment where it is difficult to attribute outcomes to specific
interventions (Stubbs, 2004; Roberts, 2006).
Additionally, there is currently a lack of evidence to support a link between
enhanced sustainability and urban and regional regeneration strategies (Colomb,
2007’ Bramley & Power, 2009) and limitations have been noted in relation to the
effectiveness of heritage-led regeneration strategies in industrial regions (Hospers,
2000; Jones & Munday, 2001; Cole, 2004). Studies have also shown limitations in
the effectiveness of inter-organizational collaboration (Wilson & Boyle, 2006),
strategic planning (Rodwell, 2002) and stakeholder participation at World
Heritage sites (Aas et al., 2005), while limitations have been identified in the
strategic management skills of heritage managers (Garrod & Fyall, 2000; Watson
& McCracken, 2002). These are all considered to be desirable operational
characteristics or strategic dimensions of sustainable development. While these
studies contribute to a better understanding, they do not holistically evaluate the
integration of sustainable development principles at heritage sites, nor do they
specifically consider industrial heritage sites.
In the light of these findings, this paper sets out to establish a holistic framework
for the evaluation and management of sustainable development at industrial
heritage sites. The paper starts by identifying two strategic dimensions of
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sustainable development and highlighting the inter-related expectations of public

social policy. Using a content analysis of six industrial World Heritage site
management plans, the paper then provides research evidence that indicates the
need for procedural and institutional innovation if industrial heritage sites are to
respond to the challenges of sustainable development. The paper concludes with a
model of sustainable heritage management that is relevant to industrial heritage
sites and other complex sites such as historic urban landscapes and city centres.
The results presented in this paper are the preliminary findings of a more extensive
case study. Further analysis of interviews with key stakeholders and physical
surveys at each site will be used to strengthen the model.

Definitions and Theoretical Foundations

The Dimensions of Sustainable Development
This section considers the strategic dimensions of sustainable development which,
despite widespread consensus about the general objective, remains a complex
issue. The dimensions identified here form the basis of the analytical framework
used later in the paper. As a starting point, most models require a holistic approach
that balances the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainable
development over time (Johnson, 1993). While a foundational principle, the
complexity of achieving a balance across the three sustainability dimensions is
manifest (Basiago, 1998; Mowforth & Munt, 2003). Williams (2006), for
example, points to the non-linear nature of relationships across the three
dimensions as a major barrier. Bull and Jones (2006) raise questions about the
capacity of existing governance models to distribute resources evenly. Littig and
Griessler (2005) emphasize the lack of established and comparable decision-
making indices across dimensions, while Rydin et al. (2003) highlight the impact
of political influence on decision-making.
Most models of sustainable development also include multiple stakeholder
participation and, in particular, community empowerment as a cornerstone of the
development process. However, achieving authentic democratic participation is
highly challenging (Bull & Jones, 2006; Chhotray & Stoker, 2009) while defining
‘the community’ is exceptionally problematic, particularly for heritage sites (Hall
& Richards, 2003; Arneil, 2006). For some, the proposition of extensive and
equitable community participation is an idealistic concept with little chance of
effective implementation (Aas et al., 2005). Yet failure to adequately reconcile the
full range of opinions present in a community is likely to exclude many from the
benefits of a heritage resource and reduce the effectiveness of sustainable
development initiatives.
In considering the strategic dimensions of sustainable development, two (of the
above) provide a useful framework for further consideration—the use of a long-
term and holistic (strategic) planning process, and the participation and
empowerment of multiple stakeholders. There is strong support in the academic
literature for the use of a formal planning process that recognizes a circular model
of cause and effect beyond the immediate activities of any organization
(Mintzberg, 1994; Ghobadian & O’Regan, 2008). Strategic planning is considered
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a foundation of conventional management theory (Viljoen & Dann, 2003; Johnson

et al., 2008) that ‘implies a long-term perspective, requires consideration of
multiple situational influences, is . . . goal oriented, and can accommodate a wide
variety of conflicting perspectives’ (Simpson, 2001, p. 12). This embodies many
of the principles of sustainable development established by the World Commission
on Environment and Development (1987) in Our Common Future and is
suggested as an appropriate framework for sustainable heritage management.
As an idealistic concept, the meaningful engagement of multiple stakeholder
groups throughout the decision-making process is also broadly accepted as
pivotal to achieving a collective sense of responsibility for the sustainable
development of a resource (Aas et al., 2005; Davidson & Lockwood, 2008;
Chhotray & Stoker, 2009). Critical is the assumption that local stakeholders have
a more direct need to reduce the inter-generational impacts of any resource use.
Milne and Ateljevic (2001) also suggest that local stakeholders have a greater
understanding of the economic, environmental and social needs and resources of
a community, and how these might best be integrated into regional and national
Although sustainable development, stakeholder participation and strategic
planning are all established concepts in the academic literature, they may be of
more theoretical than practical value. Simpson (2001), for example, notes that
despite the general acceptance of collaboration theory, specific examples of
community involvement in planning processes are rare. Where it does occur, input
is generally restricted to consultation in relation to strategies developed by formal
planning bodies, rather than broad-based participation in strategy development. On
other occasions where genuine community participation has been sought, the
practical difficulties of achieving any form of equitable consensus have resulted in
questionable outcomes (Ass et al., 2005; Bull & Jones, 2006). This is in addition
to the problems noted earlier of establishing who the legitimate stakeholders are in
the first instance.
If achieving effective and empowering community participation is difficult in
practice, there are similar problems associated with the strategic planning process
that should also be considered. Key amongst these is that the existence of a formal
planning process does not guarantee a balance across the three sustainable
development domains. As long as environmental and economic objectives are
more readily quantifiable than social objectives, there will be problems with the
equitable treatment of the three sustainability dimensions (Littig & Griessler,
2005). As long as there are political imbalances in the decision-making process,
the more powerful members of communities will continue to impose their views of
what constitutes sustainable development over the less powerful (Agyeman &
Evans, 2003).
For many, if sustainable development is to become a reality, the fundamental
premise of the global economy needs to change as do current procedural and
institutional models. Williams (2006, p. 260) suggests that, rather than traditional
hierarchical approaches, interdependent organizations are required with ‘shifting
and opaque boundaries between public, private and voluntary sectors; frequent
interactions between interests based on the need to share resources and negotiate
common purposes; and an enhanced role for trust’. This implies new forms of
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collaborative inter-organizational relationships and structures, and new skills in

entrepreneurship, negotiation, networking and relationship management.

Sustainable Development and the Expectations of Public Policy

Having established two strategic dimensions of sustainable development, this
section will consider the link between sustainable development, public policy and
heritage. Immediately following the publication of Our Common Future (World
Commission on Environment and Development, 1987), the academic literature
focused on poverty eradication as the major strategy for socially sustainable
development. More recently, inequity has been associated with concerns about
social exclusion and poor social cohesion (Forrest & Kearns, 2001; Robinson,
2005; Colomb, 2007; Saunders et al., 2007). In much of the developed world,
social policy now parallels international agreements such as the Johannesburg
Declaration with poverty eradication and social inclusion seen as essential for
sustainable development (Bramley & Power, 2009). Social inclusion, and by
association social cohesion, has become embedded in policy discourse (Kearns &
Forrest, 2000; Colomb, 2007) while the neighbourhood has emerged as an
important social setting (Kennett & Forrest, 2006; Lowndes & Sullivan, 2007).
As an extension of this, policy aimed at addressing inequity and social exclusion
has been associated with urban and regional regeneration initiatives. Since 1998,
impoverished urban areas have been targeted through neighbourhood regeneration
strategies (Colomb, 2007). The recent successful World Heritage nomination of
several relatively depressed de-industrialized areas in the UK is also evidence of a
heritage-led regeneration approach. In Europe, despite significant policy and
attitudinal variation, a consistent assumption that the neighbourhood is an important
arena for shaping identity and social cohesion is evident (Kennett & Forrest, 2006);
while in North America, urban renewal has been encouraged through policies that
promote informal collaborative networks at a local level (Davies, 2002).
While playing to the sustainable development agenda, the driving force behind
much of the urban and regional regeneration policy is the link between
marginalized social groups, deprived neighbourhoods and social unrest. However,
Robinson (2005, p. 1412) argues that, while appearing as ‘evidence-based policy-
making in action’, there is little other than causal association supporting such an
approach. This is supported by Colomb (2007, p. 2), who suggests the need for
‘more empirical research on the practical outcomes of urban regeneration
strategies’. Much of the official rhetoric fails to recognize the contested
assumptions surrounding the concept of community and social mix. The result
is that the social cohesion debate has tended to focus public attention on ethnic
differences and highlight the negative assumptions made about multiculturalism.
The evolving policy agenda surrounding social sustainability has also grown to
emphasize active citizenship and enhanced political participation. A central strategy
toward achieving this has been the adoption of more participatory modes of
governance. Two assumptions underlie this changing approach to the way society is
governed. The first is that the local community is an important arena for shaping
social cohesion (Kearns & Forrest, 2000; Kennett & Forrest, 2006; Chhotray &
Stoker, 2009). The second is that enhanced political engagement leads to a growth in
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social capital, which is linked, in turn, to greater economic prosperity and social
inclusion (McLean et al., 2002; Arneil, 2006; Bull & Jones, 2006). Social capital,
therefore, is seen as the foundation of social stability and empowerment, its absence
is thought to be a key factor in neighbourhood decline (Middleton et al., 2005).
Irrespective of the underlying assumptions and political overtones, there is a growing
emphasis on political participation in social policy (Bull & Jones, 2006; Davidson &
Lockwood, 2008). A particularly relevant example is the use of partnerships to
manage World Heritage sites in the UK. The following sections will discuss how
these challenges might be addressed in a model for sustainable heritage management.

Sample Frame and Rationale
This section and the following one describe the research methodology adopted in
the paper. World Heritage sites were selected as the most appropriate sample for
this study for two reasons. Firstly, they are considered the pinnacle of international
heritage significance based on universally agreed criteria; and secondly, that
significance is subject to independent evaluation by recognized bodies of
international experts. World Heritage sites are also subject to regular reporting.
For these reasons, World Heritage sites could be expected to provide a best
practice model of heritage management.
Of the 754 sites on the World Heritage List in 2005, the 33 industrial sites
represented an identifiable sub-category and one that most strongly related to the
research question. Limiting the sample to those sites whose significance relates to
the period starting with the Industrial Revolution further increased the relevance.
As protection for heritage sites is dependent on national statutory controls, a
further limitation was that sites should fall under a consistent legal framework.
Finally, multiple sites with similar characteristics were needed to enhance the
research validity through cross-site comparison (Yin, 2003). Six sites conformed
to this sample frame. The sites shared a relatively intact physical state, an
extensive scale, utilitarian physical fabric, complex layers of technical innovation
and industrial processes, a relatively remote location, and an established site
management plan. The selected sites—the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, the
Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape the Derwent Valley Mills,
Ironbridge Gorge, New Lanark and Saltaire—are shown in Figure 4.

Research Methodology
Evidence for the remainder of the paper comes from a content analysis of each
World Heritage site’s management plan, in particular the planning process,
objectives and action plans (Blaenavon Partnership, 1999; City of Bradford
Metropolitan District, 2000; Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site Strategy
Group, 2001; Derwent Valley Mills Partnership, 2003; New Lanark Advisory
Group, 2003; Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site
Bid Team, 2005). As the primary instruments guiding the management of each
World Heritage site (Rodwell, 2002; Wilson & Boyle, 2006), it might be
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FIGURE 4. Location of the World Heritage sites included in the study.

expected that the strategic dimensions of sustainable development would be

present in each plan. As the data for the study were the text-based plans, and
existing theory in relation to the principles of sustainability had been identified, a
qualitative and directed content analysis approach was used. Qualitative content
analysis employs a systematic classification process of coding and identifying
themes to interpret the content of text data. A directed approach is used to
validate or extend an existing theoretical framework (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005).
In this case, the goal was to test the extent that the site management plans
incorporated the two strategic dimensions of sustainable development, namely a
long-term and holistic (strategic) planning process, and the participation and
empowerment of multiple stakeholders. Forty-four assessment items across the
following six coding dimensions were extracted from these two strategic

. The situation analysis dimension was used to assess the extent that influences
on the management of each World Heritage site boundary were identified as a
starting point in the planning process.
. The strategic orientation dimension was used to evaluate the extent that a
holistic and long-term planning approach had been used.
. The organizational design dimension was used to evaluate the extent that
organizational systems and structures at each site were designed to support
collaborative linkages between organizations and across policy fields.
. The stakeholder identity dimension was used to establish the extent that
stakeholder values, needs and expectations were integrated into a strategic
vision for each site.
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. The participation scope dimension was used to determine the breadth of

stakeholder engagement and degree of influence stakeholders had on the
decision-making process.
. The participation continuity dimension was used to determine the extent that
the breadth of stakeholder engagement and degree of influence, identified at
the start of the strategic planning process, was maintained.

The final coding instrument was based on an instrument constructed by Simpson

(2001) and later adapted by Ruhanen (2004) and Landorf (2009a, 2009b).
Simpson’s instrument was developed to assess the extent that the principles of
sustainable development had been integrated into 19 New Zealand tourism
management plans. The instrument had been subject to considerable efforts to
reduce bias in its construction, including the use of an expert panel of independent
reviewers and statistical analysis to verify reliability and validity. Coding items were
phrased to require systematic evaluations of fact and care was taken to define any
subjective concepts prior to analysis. For this reason, a forced evident/not evident
coding response was adopted rather than the three-point scale adopted by Ruhanen.

This section examines the major themes stemming from the content analysis
categorized under each of the coding dimensions described above. The
summarized results together with the final coding instrument are shown in Table 1.

Situation Analysis
All six management plans provided extensive historical backgrounds, inventories
and maps associated with their claim for heritage significance. Natural features
were detailed where they were integral to a site’s significance. All plans identified
site-specific factors as key issues influencing the management of the site. Not
surprisingly, the protection of unique heritage values was identified as a key issue
in all plans. Reference was made in five plans to site-specific risk issues and to
there being pressure on the integrity of the historic fabric as a result of changes in
use and technology. Visitor access and transportation management was identified
in all plans as a key issue, as was research and education. Other key issues
included marketing and promotion in three plans, monitoring and information
management in five plans, resources and funding in two plans and management
structures in four plans.
Two plans also mentioned the economic benefits of heritage and one discussed
the capacity of local infrastructure. All referred to the political and legal
environment in the form of the national planning framework but only one reflected
on how this might evolve as a future influence and no plans considered socio-
economic trends. None of the plans provided detailed local demographic,
economic or visitor data or appeared to integrate this into the decision-making
process. Nor did any of the plans consider the impact of broader national or
international trends, or provide a mechanism for the ongoing evaluation of these
dynamic external factors. This leads to the conclusion that the planning process at
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TABLE 1. Evaluation results for the strategic dimensions of sustainable development

World Heritage site
Coding item 1 2 3 4 5 6
Situation analysis
1 Are the tangible heritage characteristics described?
2 Are the intangible heritage characteristics described?
3 Are the land-use and ownership patterns described?
4 Are the demographic characteristics identified?
5 Are the economic characteristics identified?
6 Are the economic benefits of heritage identified?
7 Are the heritage tourism activities identified?
8 Is the capacity of tourism infrastructure identified?
9 Are visitor numbers, length of stay and value identified?
10 Is the integration with other planning processes identified?
Strategic orientation
11 Does the time dimension reflect a long-term orientation?
12 Are broad-based economic goals identified?
13 Are broad-based environmental goals identified?
14 Are broad-based social/community goals identified?
15 Are broad-based heritage development goals identified?
16 Is a range of strategic alternatives identified and evaluated?
17 Are objectives developed that support goals?
18 Are objectives based on supply capability?
19 Do objectives target equitable economic distribution?
20 Are objectives quantifiable and measurable?
Organisational design
21 Is a multi-organizational coordinating partnership identified?
22 Is a World Heritage site coordinator identified?
23 Are implementation responsibilities for objectives specified?
24 Are multiple organizations responsible for implementation?
25 Is there a collaborative funding framework?
26 Are performance measures collaborative?
Stakeholder identity
27 Are important local values and attitudes identified?
28 Are important local lifestyle characteristics identified?
29 Are critical issues for residents identified?
30 Are community attitudes to heritage assessed?
31 Is the quality of life in the local community assessed?
32 Does the vision align with community values and attitudes?
Participation scope
33 Do government agencies participate in the process?
34 Do government agencies influence strategic directions?
35 Do non-government agencies participate in the process?
36 Do non-government agencies influence strategic directions?
37 Do businesses and residents participate in the process?


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TABLE 1. (Continued)
World Heritage site
Coding item 1 2 3 4 5 6
38 Do businesses and residents influence strategic directions?
39 Do relevant visitor groups participate in the process?
40 Do relevant visitor groups influence strategic directions?
Participation continuity
41 Is participation in the prioritisation of objectives evident?
42 Are responsibilities assigned across stakeholders?
43 Is participation in the evaluation and review process evident?
44 Are stakeholder relationships evaluated and reviewed?

Note: shaded, evident; unshaded, not evident. Site 1: Blaenavon Industrial Landscape; Site 2:
Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape; Site 3: Derwent Valley Mills; Site 4: Ironbridge
Gorge; Site 5: New Lanark; Site 6: Saltaire

each site remained relatively isolated from the surrounding macro-environmental

context and focused on site-specific conservation issues.

Strategic Orientation
A linear planning process was evident in all six management plans, although
differences were apparent in the extent of long-term and expansive strategic
thinking. Aims generally referred to the distinctiveness of the site and provided a
broad commitment to stakeholders. Four plans referred to protecting and
enhancing the ‘character’ or ‘values’ of the site, and a fifth plan used the phrase
‘safeguarding the outstanding universal value’. Social and community goals were
primarily evident in the economic goals and aims related to enhancing public
awareness. Reference was made to promoting a ‘sustainable’ or a ‘holistic and
integrated approach’ and ‘enhancing public awareness’. How aims and objectives
were established was never clearly described, however, giving the impression that
each plan was trying to generate, rather than having been generated by, any
community commitment to a vision. Only one plan described the methodology
used, and that consisted of a description of the organizations who prepared the
plan and the data sources used. One plan included an opportunities and threats
analysis but this was confined to the site rather than the broader strategic
environment. There was no evidence in any of the plans that a range of strategic
alternatives had been evaluated. The need to manage information and develop
indicators to monitor progress was mentioned as a key management issue in five of
the six plans. However, strategies to develop quantifiable measures for less
tangible issues, such as social well-being and equity, were not evident.

Organizational Design
It was evident that all six management plans sought to establish a framework for
long-term inter-organizational collaboration. Collaboration was facilitated through
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a steering group or partnership at each site. Partnerships were primarily composed

of local and national government representatives, non-government agency
representatives with heritage expertise, or major land-holders within each site.
Partnership size varied as did the organizations involved and their participation in
the implementation of objectives. Ironbridge Gorge had the smallest partnership
with 12 members while the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World
Heritage Site Bid Partnership included 75 members. New Lanark and Saltaire
included private-sector organizations while the Derwent Valley Mills included an
industry association. All sites had a site coordinator to provide administrative
support to the partnership and ensure coordination between members. The site
coordinators role in holding partners accountable was not clear. Five of the sites
had specialist technical panels that fed into the main partnership. Three
collaboration facilitation mechanisms, identified by Wilson and Boyle (2006),
were not so evident. These were multi-organizational responsibility for the
implementation of objectives, action plans linked to a collaborative funding
framework and performance measures, and formal arrangements for consultation.
With a high degree of ownership and statutory authority complexity within each
site, collaboration appears as much a matter of necessity as a commitment to the
ideals of participatory management.

Stakeholder Identity
All six management plans referred to some form of stakeholder consultation. How
the process was conducted, what understanding came from it and how it was
integrated into the planning process was unclear in four plans. The vagueness of
statements such as ‘consultations with public and private bodies and with the
general public have taken place’ or this management plan follows ‘consultation
with the local community and relevant organisations and agencies’ indicated an
assumed authority in relation to the process and suggested it did not require a more
explicit description. There was limited evidence of the systematic assessment of
contemporary community values and attitudes, lifestyle features or quality of life
characteristics, and no evidence of their integration into the planning process.
There was also minimal evidence that the vision for each World Heritage site
aligned with community values leading to an assumption that, however vague the
process of consultation was, it equated to having a common understanding
regarding the heritage value of a site.

Participation Scope
All six management plans detailed a partnership structure between varying
numbers of key stakeholders. Local government agencies dominated the
membership and the implementation of objectives in all six plans. An organization
or individual was deemed to have participated in the planning process if they had
an active role in the implementation of objectives. The generic ‘public
consultation’ process noted in four management plans was not deemed
participation because of the lack of evident influence over the planning outcomes.
Objective implementation responsibilities were spread across government and
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non-government agencies, businesses, residents and visitor groups in all plans.

However, local governments in three of the six management plans assumed the
overwhelming majority of the objective implementation responsibility. While all
six plans referred to consultation having taken place, it was evident that the
consultation process had been directed by the heritage concerns of the relevant
government and non-government agencies and major land-owner groups who
made up the partnership membership, rather than an open process of negotiation.
The suggestion in one plan that ‘public consultation is an opportunity to secure
understanding of and support for . . . management principles’ appears to be closer
to the true scope of participation at four of the six sites.

Participation Continuity
Stakeholder participation in the prioritization of objectives was considered integral
to the development of joint responsibility for the planning process outcomes. None
of the plans showed evidence of broad stakeholder participation in the
prioritization of objectives. This was due to the fact that it was difficult to gauge
whether broad stakeholder participation did in fact contribute to the final chosen
strategic direction. All plans listed a series of action plans or projects derived from
an analysis of the key management issues. However, many of the projects were
assigned to only one implementer and all of the plans lacking a comprehensive set
of collaborative performance indicators. Also difficult to gauge was the extent that
stakeholder relationships were subject review. Although one plan did include an
action plan to ‘develop and strengthen new and existing partnerships’, none of the
plans clearly addressed the issue of ongoing partnership membership and

A Model of Sustainable Heritage Management

It was evident from the analysis of the World Heritage site management plans that
there are some weaknesses in the current planning process in relation to sustainable
development. Firstly, an extensive situation analysis is a foundation for holistic and
long-term decision-making. Despite an awareness of site-specific situational
factors, there was no evidence of an engagement with trends and issues in the
broader environment in any plan. Secondly, assessing a range of strategic
alternatives and developing an equitable balance of economic, environmental and
social objectives contributes to longer-term sustainability. While all plans followed
a logical process of setting objectives and developing action plans to meet those
objectives, social objectives and quantifiable measures for the less tangible values
associated with each site were notable omissions. Thirdly, a vision that incorporates
local values and attitudes contributes to a collective sense of responsibility for a site
and enhances the connection between a local community and their heritage. There
was minimal evidence that this was addressed in any of the plans. Finally,
the capacity for all stakeholders to contribute to the management of a heritage
resource is fundamental to empowering local communities, enhancing the equitable
distribution of the benefits of that resource and maintaining local associative
connections with a site. There was a clear commitment to stakeholders at all
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the sites in the study but collaboration appeared to be limited to providing comment
on solutions developed by a small number of key stakeholders.
A model of sustainable heritage management has been developed that addresses
these weaknesses. The lack of integration between heritage site management and
broader decision-making frameworks is seen as a major problem. The model
suggests a framework that can bring together the diversity of local, national and
international interests necessary to develop a long-term and holistic strategic plan
for a heritage site. The framework is based on conceptualizing sustainable
development as a social problem and then understanding any intervention in that
problem from a systems perspective. Joseph McCann (1983) identified three
aspects of a social problem. Firstly, social problems are dynamic and unbounded.
This limits the development of a shared understanding of their causes and effects,
and a coordinated approach to their solution. Secondly, the resources needed to
affect social problems are diffuse. This means that any intervention will need to be
undertaken incrementally and negotiated amongst multiple actors who share
complex and non-linear relationships. Finally, no one entity has sole responsibility
for a social problem. This means that new procedural and institutional frameworks
are needed to coordinate any intervention.
McCann (1983) proposed a social problem-solving process consisting of three
interconnected stages—problem setting, direction setting and structuring. Problem
setting describes the events and interactions needed to reach agreement amongst
stakeholders about the definition and membership of the problem domain. The
success of this stage can be constrained by limited or illegitimate stakeholder
participation, politicization of the process and differences in opinions amongst
stakeholders as to the nature of the problem. A lack of awareness of the larger
context is a further constraint on the quality of this stage.
The second stage, direction setting, is the process of agreeing on a direction for
action by stakeholders. Not only does a ‘desirable state’ need to be agreed but what
must be done to achieve that state needs to be determined. This involves setting
goals, developing actions plans and enacting legislation. The process also attempts
to resolve the end state legitimacy. Without this, sufficient resources may not be
allocated and any proposed direction for action can lack the necessary feasibility to
have a lasting impact. Finally, the structuring stage relates to the functional viability
of any problem-solving intervention. This concerns who assumes the roles and
responsibilities defined by the direction for action. It also concerns the design of the
institutional mechanisms used to manage relationships amongst stakeholders.
Factors that might impact on the quality of the structuring stage include an over-
reliance on inflexible bureaucratic structures and the inequitable allocation of roles
and responsibilities.
Viewing a social problem from a systems perspective strengthens McCann’s
approach in two ways. Firstly, a systems approach assumes any intervention will
take into consideration the multitude of interacting systems surrounding a given
problem situation (Checkland, 1999). Recognizing that a social problem has
flexible and inter-connected boundaries that need constant re-assessment resolves
the stakeholder definition and contextual awareness problems identified in the
problem-setting stage. Secondly, a systems approach assumes any intervention to
be an organized process of inquiry and learning (Checkland & Winter, 2006).
Model for Sustainable Historic Urban Environments

This provides a mechanism for continuous evaluation and improvement not evident
in McCann’s linear process. The systems model for social problem-solving is
shown in Figure 5.
However, for such a model to be implemented effectively it needs to be
integrated into a long-term and holistic strategic planning process and it should

FIGURE 5. A systems model for social problem-solving.

FIGURE 6. A systems model for sustainable heritage management. Note: WHS, World Heritage Site.

Chris Landorf

address the participation and empowerment of multiple stakeholders. Figure 6

proposes a systems model for sustainable heritage management consisting of five
stages (after Viljoen & Dann, 2003). The model commences with an analysis
phase where the external trends and issues impacting on a given heritage site
(‘macro-environment factors’), the expectations of multiple ‘local’ stakeholders
(local government, local residents, etc.) and the ‘internal’ attributes of the site are
analysed. A strategic direction is then formulated to take advantage of the major
opportunities and minimize the key threats identified in the analysis phase. The
strategic choice phase involves the generation, evaluated and choice of strategy
that best suits the needs of the heritage site. The strategy implementation phase
concerns the creation of appropriate administrative structures and operational
systems to support the strategy implementation, evaluation and control. While
strategic planning is generally described as a sequential process, the model should
be viewed as heuristic and highly iterative, constantly responding to local, national
and international trends and issues as they arise. As a complex relationship
between interdependent activities, the model requires constant evaluation and
adjustment to achieve an equitable balance toward sustainable management.

This paper set out to explore the issues facing the sustainable management of
industrial heritage sites. These sites often include economic, political, scientific
and socio-cultural heritage values beyond what remains of their physical fabric. In
doing so, it revealed widespread consensus about the fundamental objective of
sustainable development, but little agreement in relation to the practical strategies
for its implementation, and even less agreement about its validity for heritage sites.
Even so, the literature did indicate support for the use of a long-term and holistic
planning process, and the participation and empowerment of multiple stakeholders
in that process. The paper also considered the increasing utilization of the link
between sustainable development and heritage in public policy. A content analysis
of six World Heritage site management plans then indicated that, despite moves
toward a more sustainable approach at the policy level, there were evident
problems associated with the application of those principles in practice.
The paper identified four key weaknesses—a limited engagement with broader
local, national and global trends, a narrow definition of objectives and weak
development of performance indicators, an inadequate integration of local values
and attitudes into a strategic vision for the site, and stakeholder collaboration
limited to major government and non-government agencies. A model of
sustainable heritage management has been proposed to address these weaknesses.
The model integrates a conventional strategic planning process with the process of
joint decision-making amongst stakeholders found in stakeholder collaboration
and inter-organizational theory.
The study can be criticized as one-dimensional, it is indeed one part of a larger
multi-method case study. However, the findings do provide some insight into the
problems associated with the implementing of sustainable development at heritage
sites. Perhaps the most important lesson from this is that the management process
should be viewed as dynamic, evolving in response to internal and external forces
Model for Sustainable Historic Urban Environments

and changing collaborative arrangements. The research also indicates that at

present, the focus of the site management process overly emphasizes the
preservation of tangible heritage value. This needs to align more closely with
developments in World Heritage policy in relation to sustainable development and
the definition of limits of acceptable change that might better support a more active
relationship between local communities and their heritage. A further issue raised
by the study is that greater attention should be given to the decision-making
process. While establishing lines of communication is relatively simple, it does not
guarantee equitable or broad participation in the decision-making process or
authentic inter-organizational collaboration. Finally, it should be noted that the
application of the model presented in Figure 4 is reliant on heritage managers
having complimentary conservation, strategic management and negotiation skills,
as well as access to the data to support the decision-making process.

The author would like to gratefully acknowledge the two anonymous referees for
their insightful and constructive comments on the initial draft of this article.

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