PORTSMOUTH and Havant have world-class history and culture – and locals are making the most of it.
That’s the verdict of an influential report which places both Havant and Portsmouth in the top 30 nationally for heritage assets – rubbing shoulders with places like Oxford and Cambridge.
With the backing of Heritage Lottery Fund, the national heritage index has been produced for the first time by the independent think-tank, the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).
Researchers have ranked every local authority district in England, Scotland and Wales according to heritage assets – which includes historic relics, listed buildings, parks, museums, industrial heritage sites, and archaeological sites.
It also covers ‘natural’ heritage, such as beauty spots and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Researchers then worked out the scores by factoring in the number of people who were using such assets and the activities laid on.
Portsmouth sits at number nine nationally, when looking at the number of ‘heritage assets’.
At the top is the city of London, with other top tenners including Oxford, Worcester and Hastings.
Havant is ranked 11th for heritage assets, with Gosport at 27, Chichester at 112, Fareham at 128, and East Hampshire at 146.
The overall score – which takes into account all of the factors and people’s participation – sees Portsmouth ranked 12th and Havant at number 21.
Jonathan Schifferes, associate director for public services and communities, who helped with the research, said both the Portsmouth and Havant areas were densely packed with beauty spots, historic buildings and heritage sites.
He said: ‘Portsmouth does really well because of having a number of historic ships and having a high participation rate in terms of people getting the most out of their heritage.
‘The natural heritage for Havant is first-class in the UK.’
The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Frank Jonas, said: ‘I’m not surprised.
‘Sometimes I don’t think people realise what we have got here.
‘The seafront is second to none.
‘I’m very pleased we are in the top 10.’
Havant’s Mayor, Cllr Leah Turner, said: ‘I’m not the slightest bit surprised – we have some hidden gems.’
Why Portsmouth was rated highly...
n Nine accredited museums, including the National Museum of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines Museum.
n Scores of listed buildings, such as the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum and The Square Tower.
n Langstone Harbour on the doorstep - an internationally-recognised wildlife reserve.
n Several well-used and historic open spaces, such as Victoria Park and Southsea Common.
Why Havant was rated highly...
n The area is sandwiched between Langstone Harbour – which has international designations – and the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
n Staunton Country Park – a historic site that is well-used by the public.
n Buildings such as Warblington Castle and St Faith’s Church, which has Roman foundations.
n Heritage such as parchment making.