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Current international policy outlines urban heritage as containing the following aspects:

Urban heritage comprises urban elements (urban morphology and built form, open and green spaces, urban infrastructure), architectural elements (monuments, buildings) and intangible elements” (United Nations, 2015a,


According to the use of authorised heritage discourse model (Waterton and Smith, 2010, Smith, 2011) heritage which is of key importance to a local community may not be recognised or recorded in national registers (Mydland and Grahn, 2012). The tendency for considering greater inclusivity and diversity has opened up discussions about contested or hidden heritage, for example recent examples of heritage projects where aiming to highlight lower profile heritage has led to a greater profile of research and publications in practice include the Historic England “inclusive heritage” projects looking at women’s heritage, disabled persons heritage and the role of the slave trade (Historic England, 2018), and a joint project between AHRC, The University of the Highlands and Islands and HES looking at industrial heritage and nuclear archives (Historic Environment Scotland, 2018).

Heritage is accompanied by value judgments, for example what to designate or record and where, how to decide if something is of heritage importance, and to whom? By adopting a conservation philosophy (The British Standards Institution, 2013) or a cultural planning philosophy (Jeannotte, 2016) decisions can be made towards looking at actions to manage the heritage. Graham (2002) urges us to remember that the definitions of heritage vary dramatically worldwide, with some cultures emphasising the importance of intangible heritage but others embracing only buildings or natural heritage to reflect their national policy. Heritage can be seen to sit within the domain of experts (Smith, 2011), however this research aims to ensure a participatory approach to revealing and recognising assets of value to the wider community.

Fashions in what is seen as being heritage change (for example what was once new and novel grows to be viewed with suspicion or derision, then later comes back into favour, particularly within architecture or fashion) therefore there is an argument that “all heritage is intangible”

(Smith, 2011, p.1), heritage can be viewed as a continuous process rather than being fixed in time.