IHBC Chair James Caird sat at the top table, with Vice Chair Kathy Davies among the delegates, to add IHBC perspectives to the recent Civic Voice-hosted All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Civic Societies meeting on 8 May, to ‘discuss the future of the nation’s 512 at risk conservation areas at risk’ following the publication of new research entitled ‘The Future of our Conservation Areas’.
Kathy Davies writes:
Organised by Civic Voice and chaired by Craig Mckinlay MP, another successful meeting of the APPG for Civic Societies was held on 8 May to discuss the future of conservation areas.
Speakers included IHBC Chair, James Caird, Joan Humble, Chair of Civic Voice, Laura Sandys, Vice President of Civic Voice and Cllr Karen Rowland from Reading.
The basis for the discussions was the report just produced by Civic Voice ‘The Future of Conservation Areas’, which draws on data produced by Historic England and their own survey of members. People will be familiar with the stories of the shocking state of local authority conservation services which was retold time and again by members of local civic societies.
James Caird fielded questions on local lists, enforcement and local authority resources, stressing the support IHBC can give to conservation staff. Sensibly, Laura Sandys picked up on the need to find different solutions, recognising that local authority conservation resources are not likely to improve in the foreseeable future. Engaging communities in managing their own conservation areas, possibly through neighbourhood plans, is an obvious way forward which IHBC has been promoting.
Civic Voice writes:
Civic Voice – the national authoritative voice for the civic movement – has.. called for communities to join the Big Conservation Conversation campaign by getting involved in the Big Conservation Conversation to help Civic Voice build up a richer picture of the state of the nation’s conservation areas. The call comes… at a Parliamentary meeting where MPs, community groups, and policy makers debate the 512 conservation areas at risk.
Joan Humble Chair of Civic Voice said: ‘We are gathering evidence through the Big Conservation Conversation to ensure conservation areas are given greater resources and protection because we want to see improved community awareness and understanding of the nature and value of conservation areas. Our campaign has been made possible to due to the donations from many civic societies across England, but we would call on all communities across England to join Civic Voice and help us make the case for conservation areas going forward.’
Laura Sandys Vice-president of Civic Voice said: ‘This new report brings together in one place various pieces of research looking at the different issues putting conservation areas at risk. It is clear that more than 512 conservation areas are at risk and we need communities to get involved to help paint a true picture. The new website http://www.bigconservationconversation.com is a fantastic one-stop shop for civic societies and other community groups to find out how they can play a greater role in reducing heritage at risk. We want communities to go on the website and share examples of conservation areas at risk.’
Craig Mackinlay MP, Chair of the APPG for Civic Societies said: ‘As the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies, I’m delighted to offer our support to Civic Voice in making the case for conservation areas. The new Civic Conservation Area Audit developed by Civic Voice is a simple yet effective tool. It can be a great campaigning tool for communities to make the case for conservation areas at risk to their local authority. I applaud groups such as Aldershot and Bewdley Civic Society for participating in the pilot to make this civic idea come to life.’
The new report ‘The Future of our Conservation Areas’ is available here.
The new national map showing the location of all Conservation Areas at Risk is available at https://www.bigconservationconversation.comwhere communities can search by postcode.
The Civic Conservation Area Audit toolkit is available to download from https://www.bigconservationconversation.com/conservation-audit
Read the press release
For more background see bigconservationconversation.com