The IHBC has warmly welcomed the publication of the Farrell Review report, ‘Our future in place’, especially for the fundamental role it offers conservation, and conservation skills, in its key recommendation for ‘PLACE’ reviews, with ‘the acronym PLACE, based on the core skill sets of Planning, Landscape, Architecture, Conservation and Engineering.’
IHBC Chair Mike Brown said: ‘It is very significant to see a review by a board with this development-led remit and construction-focussed skills-sets highlighting just how central conservation is to place management and design in our places. There is a lot for thought and discussion here, and the IHBC will feed back accordingly. But for now we can welcome the high recognition it gives to both conservation and, inter alia, to conservation skills.’
‘We are also delighted that the Review team have picked up on the need for VAT relief to support the diverse UK industries responsible for looking after and maintaining our existing buildings and places. We would want the review to think more widely than the ‘VAT on retrofit’ relief strategy they recommend. But it’s another huge endorsement of the IHBC’s efforts to reduce the VAT drag that holds back growth in the sectors that care for our places, to subsidise newbuild of the most variable quality.’
‘Hopefully government will pick up on some of the opportunities outlined here and set about proactively helping our valued and historic buildings and places, their conservation, and the many skilled professionals that care for them.’
‘Ed Vaizey describes the report as the ‘beginning of a dialogue’. The IHBC has been contributing to that dialogue long before the report started, and we’re still here to help now that it’s entering a new, and hopefully more positive, stage.’
IHBC Policy Chair David Kincaid said: ‘There are many strengths to the report but it is disappointing that the evident lack of conservation knowledge around the top table has been allowed to impact on the credibility of some of the suggestions.’
‘Some very simple errors do stand out, such as the fact that they do not appear to have registered the place of undesignated heritage assets in the NPPF, while their confusion over responsibilities for local listing is especially concerning. More disconcerting is the omission of the IHBC as the professional body for built environment conservation specialists in their ‘PLACE’ agenda. That omission damages the report’s appearance, especially as they have been charged also with considering the matter of skills.’
‘Also, as is often the case with such reviews there are a lot of good recommendations that are, in practice, also difficult to implement. Many recommendations will take a lot of time and effort to establish and can easily be dropped or changed by a new government, as we saw with the demise of CABE and the cancellation of By Design. A long-term commitment, and funding, is required from government to ensure that the report is implemented and not just placed on the shelf.’
Planning Portal writes:
The review also calls for cross-discipline PLACE reviews of existing places like high streets and housing estates and of infrastructure projects like road, rail and aviation improvements – the acronym PLACE incorporating the key disciplines of planning, landscape, architecture, conservation and engineering.
The review says the Government should appoint a chief architect and recommends that planning authorities should use planning fees to attract more design-literate staff.
It also says every council should have ‘Civic Champions’ who would champion local design quality. Every town and city would also have an ‘urban room’ where the public could go and understand the past, present and future of their locality.
Other recommendations include a shake-out of the policy on heritage assets and listing and the widening of expertise on Design Review panels to ensure all the key disciplines are represented: planning, landscape, architecture, conservation and engineering.
‘The issues covered by this review are not of academic or specialist interest,’ said Sir Terry Farrell. ‘They are relevant to some of the most pressing and important issues of our time like the shortage and affordability of housing; the urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions and the flooding crisis that recently afflicted so much of the country. Through proactive, rather than reactive, planning we can tackle these problems.’
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