Economic Competitiveness, Design and Local Distinctiveness
For the last 5 years Chester City Council, with 5 other regions of Europe has been working "to test an assumption that local distinctiveness characteristics are a factor in enhancing 'economic competitiveness' and if so, to determine the importance of local distinctiveness in attracting investment".
The result is a fascinating series of projects and comparisons, not least in the professional culture of municipal research and practice. The participating group, Chester in England, Visby in Sweden, Vale do Lima in Portugal, Limerick in Ireland, Salerno and Catania in Italy, gained major European (Recite II) funding to achieve 27 pilot demonstration projects and share their findings.
Chester has concluded that "local distinctiveness is a key driver to its economic competitiveness. Maintaining and reinforcing the City's distinctive qualities are critical to its sustainable economic future it should be the core to the City's economic development and marketing approaches".
The City has incorporated local distinctiveness as a key aim in its corporate plan and is committed to the concept. It has created a Local Distinctiveness Strategy (2002) that links culture and economics and proposes the insertion of local distinctiveness into the Corporate Plan, Best Value, Planning Policy, Marketing and Monitoring.
Also much practical work has been achieved in drawing people together to bring a new particularity to the city's historic centre, designing for example street furniture, paving and lighting.
Local Authorities will find the approaches and results interesting and useful.
Angela Williams, LODIS Manager, Chester City Council, The Forum, Chester CH1 2HS
or look at the LODIS web-site.