Making Letchworth a great place for everyone

Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, CEO, Graham Fisher, blogs about progress with the Foundation's three year strategy and the importance of Hertfordshire's Local Industrial Strategy.

We published the Heritage Foundation’s three year strategy at the beginning of 2019, setting out our ambition of Making Letchworth a great place for everyone, focusing on the following three areas:

  • Improve life chances
  • Be a great place to live
  • Be a great place to work and do business

Key to realising our ambition, is the future economic growth of Letchworth and we are working closely with partners to do what we can to drive the town’s future prosperity.

Herts LEP Local Industrial Strategy

The Foundation has been working closely with Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (Herts LEP). Herts LEP is the local body bringing together businesses and the public sector across the county. We are pleased to support Herts LEP’s draft Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) for Hertfordshire, which is out for public consultation until 7 October 2019.

The LIS sets out a suggested ‘economic roadmap’ for Hertfordshire to transform the local economy. Importantly the strategy aims to drive up productivity and ensure that future growth is inclusive. Productivity and inclusivity are key for Letchworth Garden City; we know from the Foundation’s research, set out in our publication, A View of Life in Letchworth Today, the town is diverse, with pockets of significant deprivation as well as affluence. To achieve our strategic goals to make Letchworth a great place for everyone, a Letchworth economy that works for everyone must be at the forefront of our efforts. We believe the LIS offers us three strategic opportunities:

Letchworth Garden City 'deep dive' and a new economic vision

During development of the LIS, the Foundation has worked to position Letchworth Garden City as a town selected by Herts LEP for an economic 'deep dive' focusing on place. Recognising the provenance of Letchworth as a town uniquely designed for industry and healthy living; formed in 1903 as the world’s first Garden City, this in-depth focus helps achieves two aims. Firstly, we can share learning and help support emerging new garden settlements in the county, such as Gilston and Hemel Garden Community. Secondly, we are raising the profile of Letchworth, its strengths and challenges and placing the town in the best position to benefit from economic developments and future investment. We are delighted that the LIS proposes to build on this initial work and develop a new economic vision for Letchworth and we very much look forward to working with the LEP to develop this further.

University outpost

We support the LIS proposal to explore the possibility of creating local outposts of the University of Hertfordshire, including an outpost at Letchworth. We recognise the important role Letchworth plays as a north Hertfordshire town, and the strength of our strategic location at the intersection of the A1(M) science corridor as well as some of our key assets in terms of planning as well as culture. A university outpost will be a significant development for the town, helping to both widen participation in learning and skills as well as help define Letchworth town centre’s future proposition for businesses, residents and visitors.

Creative/cultural industries

Letchworth Garden City has an impressive arts and crafts heritage and the Foundation recognises the creative/cultural industries are of growing importance in building sustainable places at settlement level. We support the recognition in the LIS that there are opportunities to do more, particularly in the New Towns/Garden Cities and we recognise the “catalytic importance” of local creatives within the economy. The Foundation welcomes the intentions of the LIS for further investigation into opportunities for the growth of the creative industries and we look forward to being part of the conversation and helping drive forward a vibrant local economy.

This blog provides just a snapshot into the work underway to help achieve the Foundation’s three year strategy, Making Letchworth a great place for everyone.

If you have not yet read Herts LEP’s draft Local Industrial strategy I would urge you to do so and to get involved in the conversation. The consultation is open until 7 Oct and your views will help make a difference.