Bradford Council must make more use of the World Heritage Site of Saltaire, a report has warned.
Councillors will next week discuss a management plan for the future of the 19th-century village, which has been a World Heritage Site since 2001, and decide how the authority can further promote the area.
Since Saltaire acquired the rare status, the Council describes the boost in tourism as “marginal” as there has been a failure to promote the area.
A report to the Regeneration and Economy Scrutiny Committee describes how other World Heritage Sites, such as the former Welsh mining town of Blaenavon and the Dorset and East Devon Coast, have been much more successful in “branding and packaging” each area as tourist attractions.
But councillors will also be told that a careful balancing act needs to be found between prioritising Saltaire’s economic potential over its heritage, which runs the “worst case scenario” danger of the site losing its heritage status, or focusing solely on maintaining its heritage, which would rely too much on the tourist economy.
They will be presented with a number of options, including: l not developing a management plan, which could lead to developments that “do not sustain its significance” and would endanger Saltaire’s World Heritage Status.
l developing a plan based on World Heritage objectives only, which could hinder the economic growth of the village l continuing with the current management structure, which would limit improvements l opting for the recommended option of developing an “holistic” plan that “balances world heritage objectives with those of sustainable economic development, including tourism.”
If that management plan is adopted, community groups, businesses and residents will be invited to join together on a steering group to plan Saltaire’s future.
A report to the committee by Julian Jackson, the Council’s assistant director of planning, highways and transportation, does credit the success of projects which include the £4.4 million restoration of Roberts Park and major restoration work to Salts Milll and the United Reformed Church.
But Mr Jackson states: “Many of the projects in the current management plan have been realised, others have not come to fruition and new ones are in development.
“There is scope for providing more opportunities for visitors to learn about the heritage of the village.”
David Ford, a member of Saltaire Traders and owner of Saltaire book shop, welcomed efforts to focus on the future.
He said: “There are things going on, but maybe some of it is not so focused – there are different groups doing different things. They don’t have the power to make any major decisions. We need to pull everything together.
“There is definitely the potential for more than what is happening now.
“We can’t just sit back and let it drift along. It is a good idea to refresh what the status means and pull everything we do together – think where we want to be in 20 years.
“Lots of groups are doing things, but we are let down by a lack of places to do them. You wouldn’t know sometimes that you live in a World Heritage Site. Its benefits aren’t being sold to people.”
The committee meets at Bradford City Hall on Thursday at 5.30pm.