Heritage as Opportunity: Poitiers

The rapidly changing basic conditions of modern times pose a big challenge on the management of historic towns in Europe. The imbalance of progress and the preservation of the historic urban fabric often results in either economic stagnancy or the loss of cultural heritage values and with it the loss of identity.In this context, the network HerO aimed to develop integrated and innovative management strategies for historic urban landscapes. Our main objective was facilitating the right balance between the preservation of built cultural heritage and the sustainable, future-proof socio-economic development of historic towns in order to strengthen their attractiveness and competitiveness. Emphasis was placed on managing conflicting usage interests and capitalising the potential of cultural heritage assets for economic, social and cultural activities (Heritage as Opportunity).
The economy of Poitiers is centred around specific sectors of the economy, such as the ICT and new technologies, contruction and civil engineering, trade, tourism, business support services, industrial logistics and the car industry. Poitiers is well known for its university, which accounts for a large number of students in relation to its size. The creation of the “Futuroscope” (a park that combines science, technology, education and entertainment, the 3rd French attraction with 1,5 million visitors/year) has been at the heart of the city’s economic success.The heritage restoration is an important challenge that justified a large financial investment in 2008.The key problems and challenges Poitiers would like to address within the course of the project Hero are:

– to develop a long-term synergy amongst stakeholders (managing authorities, shopkeepers, inhabitants, cabbies, etc.)

– to develop new ways of urban heritage valorisation linking historic and natural heritages

– to set up a sustainable development policy which would associate tourist valorisation of the historic city centre with Futuroscope skills

– to relay this strategy with inhabitants as “ambassadors” of their city.

Source: URBACT

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