Councilor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, a member of the City Council’s cabinet and former chair of the Local Government Association’s cultural council, welcomed the decision to move the extension forward and said he was proud to lead these efforts.
“History has always been a passion of mine – it’s what I graduated from and it’s something we have a huge amount of at Portsmouth,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service. .
“I’m glad something I did in the LGA has led to a change in government policy and I’m really looking forward to seeing the blue plaques appear across the country.”
The change in policy is facilitated by an amendment to the Leveling and Regeneration Bill, which is being debated in the House of Lords. English Heritage, which runs the London project, welcomed the expansion and said it was working with Historic England to develop a plan to facilitate it.
Portsmouth City Council has its own program celebrating famous people’s connections to the city, including school founder John Pounds and aircraft designer Nevil Shute Norway. Between 2000 and 2005, English Heritage extended its program to several major cities, including Portsmouth. Plaques celebrating Peter Sellers and Rudyard Kipling, among others, have been installed.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said he had an initial list of ideas for more plaques around the city and said the project would help people better understand the history of the places they live and visit.
The public will be able to designate seats under the new system.
Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson said: “London’s blue plaques are world renowned. For more than 150 years, they have helped celebrate the rich and diverse heritage of our capital and the people who have passed through it.
“But all over the world, people should be able to celebrate the personalities who have shaped their community. That’s why we’re looking to extend this opportunity across the country, to enable people and buildings anywhere in England to ‘to be nominated.’
Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said the expansion of the London project would build on local efforts and “help people feel a stronger connection to the history around us”.