Search Form
font size: Increase | Decrease | Reset
Norwich Heart, Heritage Economic & Regeneration Trust

Norwich 12 & SHAPING 24

Norwich 12 & SHAPING 24


Norwich 12

Norwich 12 is an iconic set of outstanding heritage buildings being developed as a universally important integrated family of cultural, economic and social attractions for visitors and local people.

In 2006 HEART secured almost £1 million from the Treasury's Invest to Save budget to launch the Norwich 12 initiative, a pioneering heritage concept. The project developed the 12 iconic buildings into an integrated family of heritage attractions which acted as an internationally important showcase of English urban and cultural development over the last 1,000 years.

The group consists of: Norwich Castle, Norwich Cathedral, The Great Hospital, The Halls - St Andrew's and Blackfriars', The Guildhall, Dragon Hall, The Assembly House, St James Mill, St John's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Surrey House, City Hall and The Forum. In 2014,the group expanded with a 'Baker's Dozen' addition of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

The project was inspired by a similar heritage concept that has been adopted in Philadelphia, USA. The American city's Independence National Historical Park is a collection of buildings and open spaces that are managed by the US National Park Service. As with the Philadelphia project, Norwich 12 sought to connect the group of buildings and promote them as a significant collective destination.

HEART worked with the 12 buildings and other professional organisations to achieve this, through a range of activities including:

* the implementation of Conservation Management Plans

* interactive interpretation signs

* joint marketing including a film, guidebook, leaflets and website

* a programme of integrated events

* educational courses

For more information visit the photo gallery and go to, which brings together a wealth of information about the buildings, including images and historical information, as well as details about how to access and explore each building. There are also sections on the group's education initiatives and latest projects as well as an events calendar.

The Norwich 12 partnership will continue under the auspices of the Norfolk Museums Service.


In March 2009 Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART) secured funding from the European Regional Development Fund for an exciting and innovative new project which took forward the successful Norwich 12 initiative, in partnership with the Belgian city of Ghent.

SHAPING 24 - Strategies for Heritage Access Pathways in Norwich and Ghent - was a cultural tourism initiative that linked together the 12 heritage sites in Norwich that make up Norwich 12, with 12 heritage sites in Ghent. The project promoted and supported the 24 sites, raised the profile of Norwich and Ghent as significant cultural heritage cities and increased awareness of the longstanding historical links between this part of England and the Low Countries.

The main activities involved maximising the access and enjoyment of the 24 outstanding heritage sites for visitors and local people and included: site improvements, staff and 'ambassador' training, linked signage, promotion, events and education activities. A specific area of the project looked at new media as a means of breaking down both cultural and physical barriers to the 24 sites by broadening both the access to, and the appeal of, heritage.  

The project aimed to increase visitor numbers and the economic performance of the sites but also to positively contribute to the local economies of the cities, through increased visitor spend, hotel stays and tourism jobs. It improved both physical and virtual access to these assets for both visitors and local people and provide more opportunities for volunteering and for cultural exchange at the educational, business and community level. The project is a best practice model for cross-border collaboration and sustainable innovative cultural tourism, which can be showcased to other historic towns and cities, and won the 2014 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award for its work in Education, Training and Awareness-Raising.

SHAPING 24 was led by HEART with Ghent City Council as the partner organisation. The project was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund from the European Union's INTERREG IVA 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013. The total value of was SHAPING 24 is €4.5m, of which Norwich's share was €2.3m, which includes match funding from a variety of organisations.


Why Ghent?

This project arose out of a mutual desire to exploit the existing connections between the two cities - Norwich and Ghent have previously worked together on the Liveable City project which aimed to improve the public space in historic city centres.

Norwich also shares many important aspects of economic, social and cultural history with Ghent going back centuries - for example the lives of the burghers, merchants and guildsmen in the two regions in the middle ages; the development of the wool trade in the sixteenth century; the establishment of trade routes; religious connections; and the importance of migration for the two cities - especially the settlement of Flemish workers in Norwich in the 16th century.

Today these two cities share a sense of cultural development, developing and promoting the distinctiveness of their city's heritage in a range of innovative ways.

About Ghent

Just as Norwich was England's second city from the Middle Ages until the Industrial Revolution, Ghent was one of the most important cities in Europe from the year 1000 to around 1550, second only to Paris in size.

Today, it is the capital of the province of East Flanders with a population of 240,000.

As with Norwich, much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact. The city boasts three beguinages and a belfry which are recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, one medieval castle, a cathedral, several museums and two important abbeys. 

For more information go to

What is Interreg IVA 2 Seas Programme?

Interreg IVA 2 Seas Programme is an EU-funded programme which can part-finance joint co-operation projects between organisations in eligible areas in England and organisations in eligible areas in France, Belgium and/or the Netherlands under a variety of themes including Economic Development, Environment and Quality of Life.

The programme covers an area of cross-border cooperation located at the crossroads of the Channel and the North Sea and involves the coastal regions of four member states: France (Nord-Pas de Calais), England, Flanders and the Netherlands.

The overall aim of the INTERREG IVA Programme is to: 'Support strategic cross-border co-operation for a more prosperous and sustainable region.'

This article reflects the author's views. The INTERREG IVA 2 Seas Programme Authorities are not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.