IHBC’s ‘Top HESPR tender pick of the week’: Orkney @ £20,000 to £30,000

HESPR_QAThe IHBC’s commercial conservation services listing, HESPR – the Historic Environment Service Providers Recognition scheme – offers members weekly HESPR Bulletins that list commercial tender opportunities, and now IHBC members can enjoy weekly ‘top picks’ from the Director through their NewsBlogs, as this week we feature a heritage tourism-linked project from Orkney valued at £20,000 to £30,000, closing on 3 October.

IHBC Chair James Caird said: ‘Our weekly tender notification to HESPR members is an innovative service that supports commercial conservation practice working to the IHBC’s standards and expectations.  These weekly NewsBlog ‘top-pick’ selections offer the wider heritage world a weekly insight to conservation practice that we hope combines good news, sector insight and service inspiration all in one.

‘So do please also let us know of any work opportunities you are involved with.  We will post them to our HESPR members, fast and for free, and they may also feature on our NewsBlogs, giving your work even more substantial profile across the sector.’

Top tender pick of the week
The Director’s top pick from the HESPR Bulletin for this week comes from Orkney Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.  Heritage-linked tourism is a key factor in the economy of the islands, but such success needs to be managed, so the clients now seek a ‘consultancy report to assess the factors that might impact on the islands’ valuable tourism offer as visitor numbers continue to increase. The study findings will seek to inform a future volume tourism destination management framework that recognises the impacts and sustainable economic opportunities associated with increasing visitor numbers. The report will advise on key infrastructure constraints, and areas for potential improvements and investment.’  The contract value is for £20,000 – £30,000 and the closing date is coming up fast, on 3 October.

Find out more about the notice

For more on HESPR and how to become a HESPR member see hespr.ihbc.org.uk

Download the HESPR flyer

For a free promotion of your tendering opportunities and work needs to the IHBC’s HESPR members, please send details and links to Joanna at contact@ihbc.org.uk, as soon as possible.

Tenders can also be advertised for a fee on our IHBC Jobs etc, including a targeted email to 1600 recipients as well as full coverage on our social platforms

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Reduced rates and 3 FREE IHBC Bursary places at BLF’s Hot-Mixed Lime Mortars seminar, Coventry, 20 Oct… act fast for a special ‘IHBC members with benefits’ offer!

Hot Lime Flyer coverA one-day hot-mixed lime mortar seminar and workshop, hosted by Coventry Cathedral, has been arranged by the Building Limes Forum (BLF) for Thursday 20 October, with reduced rates for all IHBC members (£80) and 3 free IHBC bursary places for our members.

IHBC’s Chair James Caird said: ‘This is a great partnership with the BLF. The IHBC is delighted to be able to offer up to 3 free bursary places for our members to attend this workshop. It’s a real opportunity for members to broaden their awareness of practical skills and understanding of hot lime mortars.  And as the event is designed for contractors, professionals and their clients, it’s particularly good for our early career members.’

‘The IHBC targets our support to where it is most needed, so if you are keen to get our support for your attendance, please make your case to us as soon as possible, remembering in your cover submission that our criteria for the awards have to balance relevance, need and, naturally, timeliness’.

IHBC Director Seán O’Reilly said: ‘Delegates will be able to benefit from an excellent line-up of speakers & tutors, not least as the programme is also supported by Historic England, so it is a great networking opportunity too.’

The BLF lists speakers and tutors to include Alison Henry, Historic England; Nigel Copsey, stonemason & building conservator; Pat McAfee, stonemason; David Wiggins, structural engineer, Curtins; Alan Gardner, chartered building surveyor; Nick Durnan, stone conservator; Richard Jordan, master roofer; Simon Swann, stone conservator; Bill Revie, building materials scientist; and Craig Frew, Historic Buildings Consultant.

BLF writes:

This event is suitable for contractors, professionals and their clients who have an interest in the appropriate repair and conservation of traditional buildings and structures. The day will consist of a combination of talks and practical demonstrations, delivered by a diverse team of craftspeople and consultants from across the UK & Ireland, sharing their knowledge and experience.

The cost (including lunch and materials) is £80 for BLF and IHBC members or £100 for non-members.

The Building Limes Forum can offer a number of free or reduced price places for those who would otherwise find attendance financially difficult. Please email a note of your circumstances and, if possible, the name of somebody to vouch for you to the BLF Administrator at admin@buildinglimesforum.org.uk

You may be eligible to claim a grant from the CITB to attend this course: check out the CITB website.

This event has been made possible with sponsorship from Historic England. The BLF also acknowledges support from the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.

DOWNLOAD the booking form

To apply for an IHBC bursary please send a statement on how you see the experience benefitting your skills development and personal needs, to bursaries@ihbc.org.uk

IHBC Bursary applications are judged on an applicant’s statement of case and need as well as the timing of the application.

For more information see the website  and download the flyer

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IHBC welcomes its first Vice President: Mike Brown IHBC

Following formal agreement by IHBC trustees in April to extend capacity at the highest levels of the organization, the Board is delighted to announce the election of its first Vice President, Mike Brown, who takes up this annual, renewable, portfolio-led post linked first to ongoing sector discussions with England’s Historic Environment Forum, HEF.

IHBC Chair James Caird said: ‘The IHBC is very lucky to have Mike Brown continue to serve the Institute in this new role of Vice-President, and we are very grateful to him for his continuing contribution to its leadership.’

‘It is particularly appropriate that he should continue as a leading contributor, on behalf of the Institute, to the work of the Historic Environment Forum with which he is already closely involved.’

Mike Brown said, ‘It is a real honour to be appointed by the Trustees as the Institute’s first Vice-President and I can only express my sincere gratitude at the vote of confidence this entails.   Our Chairman, James Caird, has already charged me with a long list of tasks including keeping the Historic Environment Forum’s reform initiative rolling and helping develop Heritage 2020, the sector-wide replacement for the National Heritage Protection Plan.  I will also be helping out with government initiatives in Wales, so there will be plenty to do.’

‘I look forward to working closely with our President – David McDonald, the Trustees and our staff in ensuring the future success of the IHBC’.

IHBC President David McDonald said: ‘The IHBC’s Trustees can be congratulated on this forward-thinking appointment. It will ensure that the Institute continues, through Mike Brown, to make a major contribution to the way that historic environment professionals’ roles and responsibilities develop in the future.’

IHBC Director Sean O’Reilly said: ‘This newly-created role evolves quite naturally from our wider exploration of how we might add voluntary capacity to the Institute’s operations, a strategy that many will recognise as part of our ‘IHBC+’ programme of ‘experimental evolution’.  These ambitions are reflected also in our expansion of Committee and panel roles, as well as our new UK-wide forum for members at all stages of their career and accreditation, our popular Council+.’

‘So if you want to find out more about how to get involved get in touch with your Branch, or the national office through Carla, our support officer, who can guide you in the right direction.’

‘And remember, volunteering for the IHBC doesn’t have to be for life, but it certainly can help your career!’

For more background on Council+ see content and links in the IHBC NewsBlogs

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Historic Building Protection Funding: Parliamentary questions to DCMS

A recent parliamentary question from the Mid Derbyshire MP Pauline Laytham asked Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) ‘What funding her Department is making available to protect important historic buildings’ and the Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman asked questions relating to the spread of money being given by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Hansard records (Volume 614):

  • Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con)
    • What funding her Department is making available to protect important historic buildings. [906188]
  • The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tracey Crouch)
    • I am disappointed that there was no hug offer straightaway. Historic buildings provide an important tangible connection to our past and bring alive our heritage in real and exciting ways. Grant support is provided by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for historic buildings through Historic England, the church and cathedrals repair fund and the architectural heritage fund, among others. In addition, funding is available from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
  • Pauline Latham
    • If the Minister would like a hug, I am very willing to give her a hug. I also welcome the Front-Bench team to their places. Kedleston hall is a grade I listed building, and Kedleston Voice, an action group in my constituency, has campaigned against the granting of planning permission on land that used to belong to the estate, only for the planning inspector to overturn the council’s decision. The group believes that is damaging to the environment of the hall. Will the Minister put measures in place so that no other grade I listed building is affected by housing too close to an historic setting?
  • Tracey Crouch
    • ?I have been made aware of that particular case in my hon. Friend’s constituency. Across the House I think we all face similar frustrating outcomes in planning matters in our own constituencies when the local authority has made one decision and the planning inspector another. Ultimately, it is an issue for her to take up with colleagues at the Department for Communities and Local Government. However, there is protection of the historic environment through statutory designation and planning policy. When determining planning cases, local planning authorities must have regard to the national planning policy framework, including its policies on conservation enhancement of the historic environment. We shall consider to stress the importance of that aspect of consideration.
  • Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
    • Even those of us who are very interested in protecting our listed buildings and heritage get really rather angry when the heritage sector seems to stop all development, including development that could actually improve heritage sites. Will the Minister look into that, and also look at the spread of money being given by the Heritage Lottery Fund to see whether parts of the country are getting less than their fair share? [906198]
  • Tracey Crouch
    • We work closely across all Departments on heritage matters. I am very proud to be Heritage Minister, because it is an incredibly exciting part of what we can deliver in this country. I have regular conversations with the Heritage Lottery Fund. There has been an incredible distribution of its funds across the entire country, but there is of course always room for improvement. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to discuss that further with me, I am very happy to do so.
  • Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con)
    • Must farm near Whittlesea and Flag Fen bronze age centre near Peterborough are among the finest bronze age settlements in western Europe. Peterborough City Council is the lead agency for developing a Heritage Lottery Fund bid for £3 million to develop a bespoke bronze age heritage centre. May I warmly invite my hon. Friend to visit the site and, more pertinently, to support that unique project?
  • Tracey Crouch
    • I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question, as it enables me to thank the Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty’s Treasury, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bexleyheath and Crayford (Mr Evennett), for his excellent maternity cover in my absence. He visited the site that my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) alluded to. There was an excellent Westminster Hall debate on this matter. I will of course be pleased to visit if my diary allows.

View the full text of the questions in Hansard

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Waste not want not: Sweden pushes VAT breaks for repairs

The Guardian reports that Swedish government is to tackle ‘throwaway culture’ by cutting VAT on fixing everything from bicycles to washing machines, with Swedes possibly also going to be able to claim back from income tax half of the labour cost on repairs, while a reader’s commentary argues that VAT costs and says ‘The question that has to be asked is whether this tax is affordable?!

The proposals will be go to parliament in the budget proposals, and if voted through in December will become law from 1 January 2017.

The Guardian writes:

The Swedish government is introducing tax breaks on repairs to everything from bicycles to washing machines so it will no longer make sense to throw out old or broken items and buy new ones.

Sweden’s ruling Social Democrat and Green party coalition is set to submit proposals to parliament on Tuesday to slash the VAT rate on repairs to bicycles, clothes and shoes from 25% to 12%.

It will also submit a proposal that would allow people to claim back from income tax half of the labour cost on repairs to appliances such as fridges, ovens, dishwashers and washing machines.

‘We believe that this could substantially lower the cost and so make it more rational economic behaviour to repair your goods,’ said Per Bolund, Sweden’s minister for financial markets and consumer affairs and one of six Green party cabinet members.

Bolund has been a key figure in driving through the new incentives. He estimates that the VAT cut will reduce the cost of a repair worth 400 SEK (£36) by about 50 SEK, enough to stimulate the repair industry in Sweden.

The ‘Physiocrat’ commentary on the Guardian’s website news page writes:

They would probably do better to get rid of VAT altogether. It raises very little and may even result in a loss. How could this be?

FRAUD LOSSES
In the UK, for every five pounds of VAT revenue received, one pound is lost due to
*Payments in cash
* Fraudulent claims for refund of inputs
* Carousel fraud

The UK VAT gap is estimated at £13.1 billion in 2013-14 (11.1 %).

ECONOMIC LOSSES

COMPLIANCE AND ADMINISTRATION COSTS
* 4.7% of the yield in the UK

DEADWEIGHT LOSSES
This is economic activity which does not take place because of the tax. Any figure must be conjectural. What counts here is supply/demand price elasticity. A deadweight loss of 1% of GDP is £15 billion. The reduction of VAT from 25% to 12% in the Swedish restaurant sector led to an 11,300 additional full-time jobs.

COST OF VAT TO THE GOVERNMENT

CHURNING LOSSES
This is the cost of VAT to the government itself, for example payments to pensioners and recipients of welfare benefits – child benefit, incapacity benefit, unemployment benefit, etc. At least 7% of this is being paid out in VAT, ie £14 billion.

In addition there is the component of VAT which is paid by public sector employees out of post-tax income, another £9 billion. Thus, total churning losses are £23 billion.

DOWNSTREAM TAX LOSSES
VAT results in the abstraction of revenue from other taxable sources eg incomes, profits, rental values (UBR valuations). A 10% loss of the total of income tax, national insurance, corporation tax and the UBR is £33 billion.

It would take serious work to put more precise figures on all these losses but it has to be concluded that the net yield from VAT is at best, not more than 60% of the nominal value and could be resulting in an overall cost both to the government and the UK economy.

The question that has to be asked is whether this tax is affordable?

Read more….

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Last chance for 2017 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards: Closing 1 October

The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards is one of Europe’s most prestigious prize in the heritage field, and the closing date for 2017 is  fast approaching, as 1 October 2016.

Europa Nostra writes:

Every year, [the award] honours the most outstanding heritage achievements from all over Europe. It recognises the excellence and dedication by architects, craftsmen, cultural heritage experts, volunteers, schools, local communities, heritage owners and the media. It stimulates creativity and innovation, through the power of example.

In 2017, the Awards will be given to up to 30 remarkable heritage projects and initiatives in four categories. Up to seven will be selected as Grand Prix winners and receive €10,000 each. One will get the Public Choice Award.

Entries may be submitted from the countries that take part in the Creative Europe programme of the European Commission.

Countries eligible for the EU Prize:
Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, FYROM, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and United Kingdom.

You can still apply for a Europa Nostra Award if your country is not on the list of eligible countries.

Countries eligible for the Europa Nostra Awards only:
Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, the Holy See, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Monaco, the Russian Federation, San Marino, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Read more….

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HLF and RCAHMW: Commissioner and committee skills sought, closing 3 and 12 Oct

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has vacancies for committee members in London, Yorkshire and the Humber, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, and for committee chairs in the North East, and Yorkshire and the Humber, with application closing on 3 October, while The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) is appointing three Commissioners, to help deliver the best possible historic environment services for the people of Wales, with a closing date for applications of 12 October 2016.

HLF writes:

The HLF seeks

  • A new chair for each of the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber committees
  • At least one member for the Yorkshire and the Humber committee
  • At least one member for the Scotland committee
  • At least two members for the Northern Ireland committee
  • At least one member for the London committee

We particularly welcome applications from people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, disabled people and younger individuals who can enrich the skills and experience of our committee and contribute to the future of our shared heritage.

For RCAHMW see the website

For the HLF see the website

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Edinburgh University McEwan Hall Gates: Graduate outcry halts sale

A public outcry by former students and heritage campaigners has prompted the return of landmark gates to the University of Edinburgh.

The carved sandstone and wrought iron gates stood next to the university’s graduation venue, the McEwan Hall, but were removed (with consent) as part of a £33 million redevelopment of the site. They had been due to be sold at auction.

The entranceway had been an important gathering place for students on graduation day until it was removed for restoration work, and the 19th Century carved sandstone and iron railings were to be sold in Summer Place Auctions on 21 September.  It was estimated the entranceway, which is over 53ft (16m( wide and nearly 10ft (3m) high, could sell for up to £120,000.

After substantial public controversy, Sir Tim O’Shea, the principal, ensured that the structures would be reinstated.

Read more in The TimesEdinburgh Evening News and BBC News

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Diversity in heritage valuing, as sun sets at Rhyl Sun Centre site with demolition work starting

The sun is finally setting on Rhyl’s Sun Centre – described as the town’s ‘biggest ever success’ with demolition workers moving onto the site and starting to tear down the beloved water park, as the resort’s seafront begins its latest re-birth thanks to a £29 million development.

The North Wales Pioneer writes:

The removal of the former landmark – which in its heyday had tropical storm effects, a wave pool, novelty slides and an indoor surfing pool – will pave the way for Denbighshire County Council’s plans to refurbish Rhyl Pavilion’s Theatre and build a new 4,000 sqm exhibition and events centre. The development will act as an extension to the theatre and offer space to hold Christmas fairs, an ice rink and a Santa’s Grotto.

As part of Rhyl’s regeneration, a new aquatic centre is to be built further down the promenade.

Residents and former visitors to the town are sure to mourn the flagship attraction as it joins the long list of former crowd-pleasers in the resort including Rhyl pier, the original Pavilion Theatre, the Gaiety Theatre, amphitheatre, the open air swimming pool, the Royal Floral Hall and the short-lived monorail.

Historian Colin Jones, who runs the Rhyl Life blog, said: ‘The Sun Centre was the biggest success we ever had.  The total cost was about £4.5 million and it was money well spent. Its indoor surfing pool was the first in Europe, there were crazy novelty slides, a big wave machine and a monorail at a height around the interior of the complex. Visitors flocked there and spent money all over town.’

A spokesperson from Rhyl History Club added: ‘I think lots of people have fond memories of the Sun Centre but personally, I’m not sorry to see it go. Time moves on and things change. I certainly never saw it as an iconic building.  One thing I did love about the Sun Centre was that wherever you went in the world and said you were from Rhyl, someone would always say – Oh, I’ve been to the Suncentre.’

The Sun Centre opened in 1980 and closed in 2014 when the trust set up to run it, Clwyd Leisure, went into administration.

Read more….

BBC News item

Liverpool Echo article

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IHBC South Branch conference and AGM: ‘Forms, Surveys and Reports…’ – Newbury, 7 Oct.

shawhouseflyerThe IHBC’s South Branch conference and AGM will take place on 7 October in Shaw House in Newbury – ‘one of the best preserved Elizabethan mansions in England – and as numbers are limited and the conference is open to non-IHBC members, early booking is especially advisable.

Marian Miller, South Branch Secretary, said: ‘This is a great opportunity to explore current practice standards for CPD purposes as well as to network with Branch members and colleagues.  So please be sure to come and support your IHBC Branch, and take advantage of one of the best local networking opportunities of the year!’

The South Branch writes:

This day of presentations in the beautiful Shaw House is focussed on the numerous requirements for surveys, questionnaires and reports to accompany applications for Listed Building Consent. Why do we need Heritage Statements? What should they contain? Biodiversity – what relevance is there to heritage sites? How much detail do we need? All these questions should be answered by the end of the day.

It’s also AGM time.

Shaw House is one of the best preserved Elizabethan mansions in England. Built by the wealthy cloth merchant, Thomas Dolman and completed in 1581, the house is famous for being King Charles I’s headquarters during the second battle of Newbury despite him never having visited it. In the 1720s it was acquired by the 1st Duke of Chandos and after his death the Dowager Duchess lived here until her death in 1750. Subsequently sold by the family to the Andrews family, it was a school for many years and is currently owned and managed by West Berkshire Council.

DOWNLOAD the booking form

DOWNLOAD the Flyer

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WG introduce Land Transaction Tax: 1st Wales’ own in 800 years

The Land Transaction Tax and Anti-avoidance of Devolved Taxes (Wales) Bill is to be introduced in the latest legislative programme of the Welsh Government (WG), and its first Welsh tax in almost 800 years.

The Welsh Government writes:

A new Bill will introduce the first Welsh tax in almost 800 years – land transaction tax, which will be a replacement for stamp duty land tax.  The Land Transaction Tax and Anti-avoidance of Devolved Taxes (Wales) Bill is the first Bill to be introduced as part of the Welsh Government’s new Legislative Programme.  Like stamp duty land tax, land transaction tax will be payable on the purchase or lease of a building or land in Wales over a certain price. It will affect house buyers and businesses, including builders, property developers and agents involved in the transaction process (such as solicitors and conveyancers)…

Key changes include:

  • A new overarching general anti-avoidance rule (GAAR) to help prevent and robustly tackle tax avoidance;
  • A broad targeted anti-avoidance rule (TAAR) which applies to all reliefs;
  • The exclusion of two reliefs in relation to the demutualisation of insurance companies and building societies;
  • Amendments to some other reliefs so they operate better or in a more relevant way to Wales;
  • The rent element of new residential leases will be exempt from tax under LTT;
  • The simplification of rules in relation to leases.

Read more….

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1 in 10 home owners not happy with their builder’s work: So use the FMB’s ‘Keep away from the Cowboys’ checklist

One in ten home building projects fail to please home owners, leaving a trail of unhappy customers, according to new research from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), as it says that owners can get the best value by using their ‘Keep away from the Cowboys’ checklist.

The FMB writes:

Of the home owners who are unhappy with their building work, the top reasons cited include: shoddy workmanship (49%), cost overruns (27%) and delays (23%).

However, most of these issues can be avoided if home owners stick to the ‘Keep away from the Cowboys’ checklist that the FMB has prepared. Master Builders have to pass an independent inspection, as well as credit and director checks before they can join the FMB. They can also offer warranties on their work and have access to free written contracts that help protect both parties. The FMB also offers a dispute resolution service should any problems arise.

The ‘Keep away from the Cowboys’ checklist is issued by the FMB and includes the following advice for home owners:

Get a contract – make sure everything is agreed in writing to avoid problems later;

  • Don’t flash the cash – our research shows that when builders demand to be paid in cash, so that they can avoid paying VAT, they are more likely to cut corners  elsewhere and leave their customers dissatisfied;
  • Check for scam schemes – not all rating schemes are the same. Does membership mean the builder has been checked or have they just paid for the logo?

Helen Patterson was one of those who felt let down by her builder: ‘I am absolutely distraught. My emotions are all over the place and my house is in a terrible state of disrepair. It was supposed to be the start of building my dream home and suddenly it was in complete ruins – the man responsible, who I had trusted with my hard-earned cash, just disappeared. This has left me in a financially difficult situation wishing I had used a builder that had been vetted by a more reliable third party to avoid this sort of thing happening.’

On the day that the FMB launches its Master Builder Awards to recognise Britain’s best builders, the FMB is issuing a ‘Keep away from the Cowboys’ checklist to help home owners spot the bad’uns.

The Master Builder Awards is a flagship for high-quality building work. Organised by FMB, the awards programme is unique in that any project entered by the builder must be backed up by the customer – giving home owners the opportunity to support those building companies that have delivered exceptional workmanship and service.

Read more….

DOWNLOAD the checklist

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Poll finds Londoners support restrictions on tall buildings

A new survey has found the majority of Londoners living in inner London boroughs want to see restrictions in place for new tall buildings, as a poll of 500 London residents has found many people living in inner London boroughs would like to see restrictions in place for the number of tall buildings.

The survey, which was carried out by market research firm Ipsos Mori on behalf of the Skyline Campaign, found 49 per cent think the amount of tall buildings planned, proposed or under construction in London is too many. Only 42 per cent said the figure, which was 270 at the time of the survey, was ‘about right’. 

Find out more about the Skyline campaign 

Read the background on London’s tall buildings see New London Architecture

Read the article in Planning & Building Control Today

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Where are the Global Cities of Opportunity? PWC US says London ranks highly

London is outranking other global cities globally for liveability, economic clout and opportunity, according to a new study by PWC US

PWC United States writes:

U.S. cities are demonstrating strength in leading economic and social indicators, but are also revealing dimensions where they are falling behind as engines of global competition and urban well-being, according to PwC’s Cities of Opportunity 7. The report provides an in-depth benchmark of the social and economic health of 30 of the world’s leading centers for business and commerce by measuring their performance against 10 indicators.

In this seventh edition of the study, London claims the top spot due to its strong showing across the leading indicators, and is followed by Singapore, Toronto, Paris and Amsterdam. Cities were assessed based on data from 2014-2015, with findings from the study underscoring a key premise: city success requires balanced social and economic strengths, which finds high scores in the human elements of urban life. While compiled before the recent UK referendum vote to leave the EU, detail in the report’s wide ranging measurements gives an early indication to its competitors of both London’s international strengths and areas it may have to compete harder on post Brexit.

The top three cities in each ‘Cities of Opportunity’ indicator are:

  • Intellectual capital and innovation:London, San Francisco, Paris
  • Technology readiness:Singapore, London, Amsterdam and New York (tied for third)
  • City gateway: London, Paris, Beijing
  • Transportation and Infrastructure:Singapore, Dubai, Stockholm
  • Health, safety and security:Tokyo, Toronto, Sydney
  • Sustainability and the natural environment:Stockholm and Sydney (tied for first), Seoul and Toronto (tied for third)
  • Demographics and liveability: New York and Paris (tied for first), London
  • Economic clout: London, New York, Beijing
  • Ease of doing business: Singapore, Hong Kong, London
  • Cost:Johannesburg, Toronto, Los Angeles

See the full ranking and a copy of the report

View the press release

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Countries of Culture inquiry discusses funding for culture and arts

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee debated funding for arts, culture and the creative sector at its meeting on 5 September, with representation from the British Arts Festival Association, The Creative Industries Federation and Cultural and Leisure Officers Association.

The committee was particularly concerned about the Local Authority funding landscape, the impact of Brexit on European funding, and the project to project nature of funding for cultural projects. 

View a video of the committee

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DAERA, NI, announces phase 3 of rural capital micro grants scheme: for ‘rural community and voluntary groups’

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland (NI) has announced that its new phase of the Rural Micro Capital Grants Scheme will provide an additional £450,000, with communities able to use funds for essential repairs and acquisition of equipment.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) writes:

DAERA Minister Michelle McIlveen has announced the continuation of the very successful Rural Micro Capital Grants Scheme designed to improve the lives of those living in rural communities.

Phase III of the Rural Micro Capital Grant Scheme will be delivered by local Rural Support Networks on behalf of DAERA. The Scheme will be open for applications from Monday 5 September 2016 until noon on Friday 30 September 2016. Grants of between £200 and £1,500 are available to constituted rural community organisations for equipment and minor capital works.

The Minister said: ‘I am aware that the Rural Micro Capital Grant Scheme has to date provided over 360 rural community and voluntary group with small grants to allow them to take practical steps to modernise or update their premises and to buy pieces of equipment that enables them to provide and deliver enhanced services for their local communities. Community and voluntary groups are the heart and soul of so many rural areas; therefore I am pleased to announce my department’s continuation of the Rural Micro Capital Grant Scheme, with £450,000 available.

‘Addressing social isolation, creating community spirit and providing people with a sense of belonging is what community and voluntary groups excel at. Their excellent work is strongly linked to the health and wellbeing of those living in rural areas and is fundamental to the fabric of rural areas. These small grants, that are now available, will help sustain and indeed develop this important work.’

The Minister added: ‘The Rural Micro Capital Grant Scheme is another example of how my department is actively tackling rural poverty and social isolation. It also demonstrates how government and the community and voluntary sector can work together to improve the lives of those living in rural areas. This Scheme is a real opportunity for community groups to build on their existing roles and to empower local people to make their lives, and the lives of their family, friends and neighbours, better.

‘I strongly encourage rural community and voluntary groups to contact their local Rural Support Network or visit the DAERA website for more information on the Scheme and advice on how to apply.’

View the press release and more information on how to apply

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