Remaking Beamish

Following on from our series on the Young Planner Conference, Alannah visited a study tour at Beamish open-air museum. Nick Butterley, Design Manager at Beamish gave an insightful walk and talk, discussing the relationship between Beamish and the planning process.

History of Beamish

The museum first opened in 1970 with the aim to ‘illustrate vividly’ the way of life of ‘ordinary’ people.. Since then, the ‘Living Museum of the North’ has grown tremendously, increasing in size and visitation year on year.

‘Authentic Heritage’

The majority of the buildings at Beamish are based on buildings which used to exist to ensure as ‘authentic’ experience as possible. One example is the new welfare hall, which is a replica of Coundon and Leeholme Community Centre. Featuring the NHS clinic as a key element of the 1950s.

Beamish does not only provide for a fantastic day out but continues to engage with the community it sits within.

Why is this relevant to planning?

Although the immersive nature of Beamish may give the impression that the modern world is far removed, the developments at Beamish are not exempt from the 21st century planning system.

It is fascinating to see the great care which Beamish takes in balancing the experience of an open-air museum, with the accessibility requirements of the modern day. The planned 19th century coaching in must still provide noise insulation you would expect in overnight accommodation.

Impact of Beamish

Beamish continues to be an effective resource for showcasing the rich history and heritage of the North East region. In 2016, they welcomed a record breaking 747, 651 visitors – many of these from local schoolchildren excited to experience local history in a stimulating and hands-on way.

The impact does more than just cater for younger people – the planned ‘Aged Miners Homes’ as part of the 1950s town intend to include a space for older people, including people living with dementia, and their families and carers.

Beamish does not only provide for a fantastic day out but continues to engage with the community it sits within.

Beamish is a leading example in how development should engage with the community and heritage. As such, it could not be more relevant in a conference exploring ‘A Sense of Place: Planning and Identity’.

Professionals in the built environment should take more care in establishing a sense of place in all development. At ethical partnership, we pride ourselves in our values and seek to pursue these in all that we do. We have a proven track record in working within the historic environment and with local community groups. To find out more about the work we do and keep up to date with the latest news in Planning and Heritage, make sure you follow us on our LinkedInFacebook and Twitter.

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