CALLS for action have been made as a new report highlights how the region's economic success could be fuelled by unlocking the potential of its heritage.

Celebrating Our Distinctive Heritage, hailed the first work of its kind in the North of England, explores historic places in York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding, and the opportunities they present for growth.

The report, commissioned by Historic England and the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, looks at the area’s assets and shows how a well-maintained historic environment can benefit people, places and the economy.

Helen Simpson, LEP chair, said the report could serve as a blueprint for levelling-up heritage, attracting investment and ensuring heritage priorities are reflected in stakeholders’ plans.

"We see it as a call to action for thinking and acting differently about our heritage and our places."

She said the area’s historic assets could drive growth, increase the economic value of its visitor offer, aid business development through better use of heritage buildings and create job and training opportunities.

"Successful places are places where people want to live, work, learn, play and visit. How we unlock the potential of our heritage assets and historic places will be crucial for the continued success and economic resilience of our area."

Trevor Mitchell, Historic England, said our heritage provided economic assets that can fuel good growth, adding: “This new report demonstrates that our connections to the past are not only central to the sense of place and quality of life for residents and visitors alike but also a major source of economic value."

The report explores areas where growth opportunities are likely to be focused: market and coastal towns, lowland agricultural landscapes, the uplands of the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales, and York.

It also addresses the impact of Covid-19, and opportunities created, with lockdown restrictions having led to increased digitisation, growth in online retail and widespread home working, with people rediscovering what is on their doorstep.

Meanwhile, a staycation boom has seen York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding proving to be popular destinations.

Regional partners have formed a heritage and culture strategy group to progress the report’s recommendations.