IHBC Rural Panel offers CPD boost on ‘Vulnerability Brown’: The Gardens Trust on Capability Brown landscapes at risk

Vulnerability Brown publicationThe IHBC’s Rural Panel of volunteers is a key player in advising public and private sector interests on rural policies and heritage landscapes, and here Panel Secretary, IHBC member Carole Ryan, offers thoughts on a new publication by the Gardens Trust: ‘Vulnerability Brown’.

On behalf of the IHBC’s Rural Panel, Carole writes:

As part of the Capability Brown Festival (2016) legacy, the Gardens Trust – a national amenity society since 2015, built upon a long history of local garden trusts, have prepared a review of of the issues of survival of these landscapes and possible solutions.

The Gardens Trust do sterling work in monitoring planning applications covering all the network of County Gardens Trusts in England and Wales (also via the sister organization in Scotland) and are ideally placed to do this exercise.  Some 209 potential sites with an attribution to Capability Brown have been identified and remain one of the most identifiable rural landscapes, not only by virtue of their trees and lakes, but for productive pastures for grazing animals, so much part of any rural scene. In addition they nurture wildlife and biodiversity.

Their components are subject to change that renders the landscape vulnerable, in particular setting. As experienced by all historic rural landscapes this includes lack of knowledge and understanding of significance, lack of appropriate skills, under-listing or lack of conservation area status, variable and changing ownership, incremental change, and a lack of funding – in particular the Countryside Stewardship scheme. The varied types of planning application and their effects are examined and the vulnerability associated with schemes that have a potentially short lifespan, such as golf courses. Also new aspects of vulnerability such as schemes associated with climate change.

It is notable that the methodology used is applicable to any historic landscape of any significance and therefore the Gardens Trust are to be commended on the production of such a cutting edge review. It has considerable benefit to anyone seeking to understand ‘change’ in the wider historic landscape.

Report recommendations include:

  • contribute to local and national information resources, e.g. Historic England’s Enriching the List project
  • Ensure robust Local Plan policies for protection and enhancement of historic landscapes
  • Consider Conservation Area designation to protect historic parks and gardens
  • Develop links between conservation organisations, and with decision-makers
  • Stay vigilant!

The Gardens Trust writes:

Following the 2016 Capability Brown Festival it is timely to reflect on the conservation challenges and opportunities facing the core of the collection of Brown’s landscapes, which is unique to Britain and Ireland. As part of the Festival legacy the Gardens Trust (formerly the Garden History Society and Association of Gardens Trusts), with support from Historic England, has commissioned this review of the issues facing the survival of these landscapes as well as suggested solutions.

Download ‘Vulnerability Brown – Capability Brown landscapes at risk’

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