New Lanark WHS -quarry proposal

Scottish Ministers have issued a notice of intention regarding the proposals to extract minerals within the WHS buffer zone, meaning that the decision is to be referred back to the Scottish Government DPEA (Department of Planning and Environmental Appeals).

BEFS – commentary on the application

View the appeal documentation and DPEA correspondence

IHBC newsblogs on WHS issues

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Royal Mail + HE act to preserve post boxes

The Royal Mail has pledged to work with Historic England to preserve and conserve the post box network, and also act under equivilant agreements in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Royal Mail writes:
Royal Mail and Historic England (formerly English Heritage) have launched a new commitment to preserve the character and heritage of England’s post boxes, recognising their vital role in connecting communities and businesses across the UK as well as being cherished local landmarks.

Under the policy, Royal Mail has committed to manage, repair and conserve its network of post boxes in their existing locations, unless exceptional circumstances or operational need necessitates their relocation or removal.

The new policy renews Historic England’s commitment to work constructively with Royal Mail through current heritage protection systems to find the best ways to ensure that post boxes are retained and well cared for wherever possible.

It also sets out how we work to prevent any unlawful damage or removal of our post boxes. In the event of a crime being committed, we will work with local policing teams as well as community groups to investigate such cases and prosecute those suspected of criminal activity.

Post boxes have a very special place in our heritage, with some boxes having deep connections to prominent people and places.  Each has a story to tell and many have particular meaning for local communities.  They are also an icon of the UK’s postal system, recognised around the world.

Sue Whalley, Royal Mail’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “There are around 115,300 pillar, wall and lamp boxes nationwide and there is a post box within half a mile of over 98% of the UK population.  Some post boxes are rarer than others and some have a very special place in our heritage.  They are also an icon of the UK’s postal system around the world. We are proud of our much-loved post boxes and go to great lengths to maintain and repair them.  The agreement will be adapted to reflect the individualities of post boxes across the UK, with equivalent policies with Historic Scotland, Historic Wales and Historic Northern Ireland. We believe this policy will help ensure the preservation of all post boxes for future generations.”

Business Minister Baroness Neville Rolfe, said: This innovative partnership will make sure our unique postal heritage is protected for future generations. Britain’s historic post boxes have been a familiar sight on our streets for over 150 years and are a great example of our world-famous heritage.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: “Post boxes are a cherished feature of British streets, adding character, colour and historic depth. Around 200 of the oldest and most rare are listed but all are important to our heritage. We are happy to have signed this agreement with Royal Mail which seeks innovative ways to respond to crime prevention and ensures the care and retention of post boxes for future generations.”

Post boxes were instrumental in changing the postal service during the latter half of the 19th century as they were installed across the UK.  The roadside post box was introduced in Britain following the 1840 postal reform which provided for universal affordable postage.

The novelist and General Post Office official Anthony Trollope adopted the idea of a locked roadside box and regular collection times for mail from continental Europe, and the first free-standing post boxes were installed in the Channel Islands in 1852.  This extended to mainland Britain in 1853. The first London boxes were erected in 1855 and rolled out across the country over the following decades.

The new policy has been drawn up in consultation with the Letter Box Study Group and the British Postal Museum & Archive (referred to as The Postal Museum in the policy).

It replaces the original policy dating from 2002 and has been reviewed to encompass changes at both Royal Mail and Historic England.  It also reflects changes to the legislation and regulation relating to post boxes. The joint policy can be accessed via the Royal Mail website.

View the press release

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Historic building retrofit winner- Cre8 Barn, Huddersfield

An historic building in Stirley, Huddersfield has won the ‘Retrofit Projects’ category in the UK Passivhaus Awards, converting a derelict barn into an eco centre.

The Green Building Store writes:
The Cre8 Barn at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Stirley Community Farm in Huddersfield has just been announced as the winner in the ‘Retrofit Projects’ category in the UK Passivhaus Awards 2015, at a ceremony on Tuesday 7th July in London organised by the Passivhaus Trust.

The project, designed and built by Passivhaus specialist firm Green Building Store, involved the refurbishment of a derelict cow barn into an eco-exemplar educational centre and space. The project was designed to the exacting EnerPHit standard (a variation of the low energy Passivhaus standard, specifically designed for retrofits). A super-insulated timber frame structure was built inside the existing stone barn building (effectively a ‘box within a box’), preserving the outward appearance of the barn, whilst ensuring high levels of airtightness and continuous insulation. The timber frame structure has the additional advantage of supporting and shoring up the original stone building.

Green Building Store Director Bill Butcher commented:’It is a great honour and privilege to receive the award, which is voted for by technical experts and practitioners within the UK Passivhaus community. We hope that the technical solutions we came up with at the project can offer a useful template for bringing historic and older buildings up to 21st century energy efficiency levels.’

Rob Stoneman, Chief Executive, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust commented: ‘Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are delighted that Stirley Community Farm’s Cre8 Barn has won the ‘Retrofit Projects’ UK Passivhaus Award 2015. The Farm was always intended to be an exemplar – a place to change thinking by demonstrating the possible.  There is no greater challenge to humanity than the prospect of chaotic climate change.  Passivhaus is leading the way in addressing that challenge and we are extremely chuffed we can demonstrate that at Stirley.’

More information and free technical resources on all aspects of the Cre8 Barn retrofit are available at: 

View more details of the Passivhaus awards

View a video of the Cre8 Barn project

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Historic railway station accepts ‘local currency’

Bristol Temple Meads railway station has become the first station to accept a local currency, it now accepts ‘Bristol Pounds’, joining others taking part in the expansion of the community currency and adding to the European Green Capital events.

Bristol 2015 European Green Capital writes:
The Bristol Pound, the UK’s first city-wide local currency is now being accepted by First Great Western for the first time at Bristol Temple Meads station.

Designed to build stronger community connections and support a greener local economy, the currency has already been accepted by First bus, Good Energy and Bristol City Council for Council Tax. Now customers will be able to use Bristol Pounds at the station’s ticket offices since this past Tuesday 14 July.

Station Manager Mike Holmes explains:
“Dedicated to supporting the communities we serve, when I heard about the Bristol Pound I wanted to get on board – and to help focus peoples’ minds on all things local.  The Great Western mainline was built not only to connect London to Bristol, but to transport the goods arriving from America at Bristol harbour to the capital and beyond. As we continue to build a greater west, we are know that Bristol’s influence as a key economic player and as city of culture and creativity will continue to grow.”

People in the city can open accounts held with Bristol Credit Union, and then withdraw Bristol Pounds at selected cash points across the city.

They can also use their mobile phone, or go online to pay for goods or services at hundreds of Bristol locations. The ticket office at Bristol Temple Meads is currently accepting Bristol Pound notes.

Michael Lloyd-Jones, Core Scheme Manager of the Bristol Pound said: “Almost three years since the Bristol Pound was launched, we’re delighted that First Great Western are now accepting Bristol Pounds at Temple Meads station. It’s another big milestone for the £B scheme in our year as European Green Capital.”

You can spend Bristol Pounds at every participating business using either paper Bristol Pounds (in £B1, £B5, £B10 and £B20 denominations), from a Bristol Pound account with any mobile phone by using a txt2pay system, or over the internet.

View the press release

Find out more about the European Green Capital events, including those relating to architecture, culture and energy

Find out more about the Bristol Pound

A database of ‘local currencies’ throughout the UK

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IHBC Annual School Day 1- Digital Review

StorifyNorwich2015Following calls for digital volunteers at the IHBC Annual School in Norwich to record and share their experiences so that your institute could share these with all members, we are delighted to offer this first edition of a number of digital Storify posts archiving the activities.

In the coming NewsBlogs we will re-live some of the Annual School activities through the eyes of the digital storytelling volunteer attendees!

You do not require any accounts to view the Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs, simply click on the link below.

The IHBC would like to again thank everyone who contributed to the event and this record.

View the Storify

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Civic Voice shortlists 12 schemes for design awards

The Civic Voice has released the shortlist of candidates for its awards in the three categories of restoration, public realm and new buildings. 

The Civic Voice writes:
Civic Voice – the national charity for the civic movement – has today announced its national shortlist for the best designed new development nominated by communities in the country.

Griff Rhys Jones, Civic Voice President said: ‘What I really like about the Civic Voice Design Awards is that they are national awards which have been nominated by local community organisations like civic societies, residents groups, town and parish councils and other community based voluntary organisations, rather than the industry professionals. They show that people are willing to welcome the new developments we need when they have been properly consulted and involved and where the quality of design has been of the highest standard. I look forward to meeting the award winners’

Schemes were shortlisted in 3 categories, as follows, with one overall winner.

  • New Buildings
    • Arundel Museum: a new museum praised for its environmental sustainability and considered response to both community need and historic setting with a strong sense of pride of place within the town and community.
    • Gloucester Services Northbound: the community pursued a vision of leading the design and development of a motorway services using the surrounding rural landscape and farming community to improve employment, training and skills for local deprived communities; an outstanding achievement.
    • Holme Terrace Independent Residential Accommodation, Norwich: a considered and thoughtful independent living scheme for the elderly which provides excellent accommodation, of a high quality and contemporary design, yet sensitive to its historic context.
    • North Hertfordshire College, Hitchin Campus: a remarkably successful re-use of an existing educational facility delivering a high quality landmark and inspirational building, which meets the needs of 21st century students. 
  • Public Realm
    • Cricket Green Local Landmarks, Mitcham: an imaginative community led scheme to restore historic local landmarks sited on Mitcham’s cricket green, helping preserve, celebrate and bring to life local heritage for local people.
    • The Harbour Steps, Margate: an outstanding example of successful integration of civil engineering and place making, which has made a real difference to the regeneration of Margate and raised the standard of public realm within the town.
    • Slowing the Flow in Pickering: a collaborative partnership between the community and academia hit on a winning solution to flood prevention in the North Yorkshire town of Pickering by working with nature to ‘Slow the Flow’, storing water upstream rather than flooding the town.
    • Walpole Park, Ealing: a project to place a neglected London park back at the heart of the community, helping restore civic pride and respecting heritage whilst meeting contemporary needs.
  • Restoration:
    • All Soul’s Church, Bolton: an impressive and brave refurbishment of a neglected, run-down Grade II* Listed church within inner city Bolton, restoring it into a well-used inter and non-faith community space.
    • Portico – new works on Chester City Walls: an excellent example of how new elements can be successfully added to precious historic buildings without damaging them, enhancing their significance and showing that good design can lead to greater civic engagement.
    • Orange Box, Halifax: an imaginative reworking of run down 19th century warehouses collaboratively planned into a vibrant youth space with world class facilities.
    • Westgate Hall, Canterbury: a former drill hall facing demolition saved by a community driven campaign has seen an unremarkable building brought back to life and transformed into something quite special – a fantastic community amenity and art house cinema.

The expert panel of five judges was chaired by Max Farrell, project leader for the Farrell Review of Architecture and the Built Environment, published in 2014.  Farrell said: ‘In this first year there were a total of 62 entries submitted by community groups which, in itself, is a remarkable indicator of the importance that communities attach to good design. We have shortlisted 12 schemes to be given National Civic Voice Design Awards. These schemes, ranging from major Heritage Lottery Funded projects to smaller community initiatives, show that communities are keen to celebrate high quality design when they see it. The shortlisted entries clearly demonstrate communities’ desire to say ‘yes’ to development, when they have had a chance to participate in a meaningful way’.

The winning scheme awards will be announced and presented by Griff Rhys Jones, President of Civic Voice, at a ceremony on Friday 17th July at 2pm at Central Hall Westminster.

More information on Civic Voice

IHBC Awards etc. 

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Coastal Community Fund extended

The Coastal Communities Fund, which is designed to bring economic investment to coastal areas, has been extended substantially, with a chance to bid for £90 million of government funding. 

DCLG writes:
Seaside towns across the country will have a chance to bid for £90 million of government funding under measures announced by the Chancellor in yesterday’s Budget (8 July 2015).

Ministers welcomed the extension of Coastal Communities Fund to 2020 as part of the government’s long-term economic plan to revitalise seaside towns and unlock their economic potential.

Launched in 2012, the Coastal Communities Fund has already invested nearly £119 million on 211 projects local infrastructure and economic projects across the UK. This is helping to create almost 13,700 jobs and provide more than 10,280 training places and apprenticeships.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: Britain has a proud seaside tradition which this ‘one nation government’ is determined to revive so they can be year-round success stories. Unlocking the economic potential of our seaside towns will create jobs, build infrastructure and boost local economic growth.  We know our multi-million Coastal Communities Fund is already having a big impact on communities and local seaside economies, and the extension of the fund will mean other areas will have the chance to bid for funding.

Coastal Communities Minister Mark Francois said: ‘I’m delighted our Coastal Communities Fund will continue. This government investment ensures areas can create skilled workers and year round jobs that will build stronger communities and stronger local economies.’

‘This fund, together with the creation of our Coastal Community Teams, will be an important catalyst for change and help secure the long-term future of our seaside towns so communities can drive forward their vision, unleash business opportunities and thrive.’

19 of the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are in coastal areas and as part of the government’s growth deals, more than £700 million has been committed to projects in these areas to improve transport infrastructure, broadband connectivity, improving flood defences and improving opportunities for local people.

8 out of the 24 enterprise zones are in coastal areas which offer incentives for businesses to start up or expand including Business Rates relief, superfast broadband and simplified planning – with a further two prospective coastal enterprise zones in Blackpool and Plymouth announced in the March 2015 Budget. Coastal enterprise zones have delivered more than 5,300 jobs to date and helped to secure nearly £275 million of private sector investment to coastal areas.

View the press release

IHBC newsblogs on coastal heritage 

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DCLG: New £100 million Housing Growth Partnership to benefit small builders

Small housebuilders are able to take part in a new programme which DCLG has launched aiming to give support for housebuilders to grow their business partnering with the Lloyds Banking Group to create a fund of £100 million.

DCLG writes:
Small builders will benefit from a £100 million cash boost to recognise and support their important role in keeping the country building, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said yesterday (6 July 2015).  The Housing Growth Partnership will act as a dedicated initiative that will invest alongside smaller builders in new developments, providing money to support their businesses, helping get workers onto sites and increasing housing supply.

The Partnership will also establish a network of builders, including experienced developers, who will act as mentors and advisers to those looking to expand and grow their businesses.

In the last 25 years, the number of firms building between 1 and 100 units a year has fallen from over 12,000 to fewer than 3,000.  That’s why the government has placed housebuilding at the heart of its long-term economic plan, to get homes communities want built and create jobs in construction and related industries.

The latest housebuilding figures show starts have more than doubled since those seen during the same period in 2009 – with both starts and completions rising in the past year and the number of homes granted planning permission are at the highest annual total for 8 years.

Launched yesterday, the Housing Growth Partnership will help small builders to play their part in this success.  The government has matched a £50 million investment from Lloyds Banking Group to create the £100 million Housing Growth Partnership, which will be used to help smaller builders to invest in new projects and develop their businesses, allowing them to recruit and train skilled workers and become more competitive in their local area.  The partnership expects to make around 50 investments, with the aim to provide an additional 2,000 homes.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said yesterday:  The 2008 economic crash devastated our army of small builders, with delivery falling from 44,000 homes to just 18,000 – 7 years on, companies are getting back on their feet but we’re determined to give them all the help they need.  Access to finance is one of the biggest challenges they face – so that’s why today I’m launching this £100 million commitment which will help our smaller builders fund new projects, expand their businesses, create more jobs and build more homes.  With housing starts at a 7-year high and climbing and homes granted planning permission at 261,000 – the highest since 2007, this work will ensure we maintain this momentum and keep the country building.

Andrew Bester, Group Director and Chief Executive, Commercial Banking, Lloyds Banking Group said yesterday:  The challenge of housing supply and affordability is one of the biggest issues facing Britain today, so we at Lloyds Banking Group welcome the government’s announcement of support for the Housing Growth Partnership, which will double the capability to support SME house builders. It will provide SME house builders with much needed equity to support residential development projects, to stimulate growth in their businesses and facilitate access to conventional property development finance.  We believe building both a greater quantity and mix of homes will help Britain prosper and this partnership will help address the issue of housing supply in the UK.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of Federation of Master Builders, said:  There has been a sharp decline in the numbers and output of SME house builders over the past 8 years. One of the biggest obstacles these firms have faced is a severe difficulty in accessing finance. Without adequate access to finance they cannot bring forward the number of new homes they would otherwise.  The new Housing Growth Partnership will directly help to address this issue and the additional £50 million greatly increases the scale of what can be achieved. We commend Lloyds Banking Group and the government on their trailblazing approach and we hope this marks a real turning point in the fight to provide adequate finance to the SME house building sector.

Housing Growth Partnership seeks to invest alongside the following:

  • small and medium sized house builders who have evidence of a solid track record in delivering residential development schemes
  • house builders who on average have 10-100 single unit completions annually over the past 3 years, and have a proven track record in land buying, design, construction, marketing and sales of new homes
  • the government’s investment supplements the initial £50 million announced by Lloyds Banking Group in October 2014

The Housing Growth Partnership will support residential development projects with a gross development value of between £0.75 million and £12 million and will offer investments in the range of £0.5 million – £5 million for each project.

View the press release

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Public sector reforms in NI- Public Sector Innovation Lab

A national conference organised by the charity NESTA has highlighted the importance of the Northern Ireland’s (NI) Public Sector Innovation Lab in creating new ideas and approaches for governance meeting the needs of society.

The NI Executive Department of Finance and Personnel writes:
Finance Minister Arlene Foster, MLA told an international conference in London today that new thinking is needed to reform our public sector.

The Minister was speaking at the Labworks 2015 conference, organised by Nesta, an independent charity that works to increase innovation capacity in the UK. This fourth annual conference brings together a growing international network of innovation teams who work in an innovation laboratory, both inside and alongside government on society’s biggest challenges.

The Innovation Laboratory is a new methodology, which has been used internationally, to develop solutions to complex problems with the help of experts in a ‘hothouse’ environment.

The Minister said: ‘New thinking is needed across government to reform our public sector and deliver better and more targeted services for those in greatest need. While the public sector is facing a sustained period of budgetary constraint and increased demand for public services we must continue the process of reform and improve services despite reducing budgets.

‘Northern Ireland departments are already undertaking ambitious programmes of reform and the launch of our first public sector innovation lab in April 2014 will be an important tool in driving the reform agenda.’

Arlene Foster added: ‘Northern Ireland’s Public Sector Innovation Lab is one of the first regional labs to be established by a devolved administration. The lab offers a fresh, alternative approach to developing both strategic and tactical solutions to complex policy and operational issues.

‘Innovation labs offer a mechanism where service users, their families and representative bodies can work with partners from public, private, voluntary and charity sectors in co-designing and co-producing solutions to their needs.’

Today’s event brings together public innovators from across the world to hear about the latest tools, learn new skills, share thinking, experience and build the basis for future collaboration.

Arlene Foster concluded: ‘Northern Ireland can learn from the work of other groups that have been established to address some of the most complex and challenging problems that face society today. The Northern Ireland Innovation Lab will benefit from this network and be in a better position to foster and promote innovation within our public sector.’

View the news release

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SAVE’s Buildings at Risk Report 2015/16: ‘Falling In Love’

The latest building at risk report from SAVE hopes to tug on our historic building heartstrings, it is entitled ‘Falling In Love: Buildings at Risk 2015-16’. 

SAVE writes:
SAVE’s new Buildings at Risk Report ‘Falling In Love’ showcases historic properties in urgent need of new owners or imaginative reuses, revealing an array of exciting opportunities for restorers. Hopefully you’ll fall in love with the 100 buildings at risk featured.

Spotlight articles focus on Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham’s libraries, and Tbilisi in Georgia.

A must read for anyone interested in Britain’s heritage and an essential tool for prospective restorers, SAVE’s reports play a critical role in the conservation of Britain’s historic buildings. Some two-thirds of the country houses included in SAVE’s first report, published in 1977, had found new owners or uses within three or four years and good news has continued ever since.

View more information about the publication

View IHBC NewsBlogs on buildings at risk

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Festival of Architecture launched with £400K

The 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design in Scotland will include a ‘festival of architecture’ as part of the celebrations, with the RIAS being granted funding from the Scottish Government and Events Scotland. 

The Scottish Government writes:
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has announced £400,000 of funding to support the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) Festival of Architecture.

The Festival will be an international celebration of design and creativity designed to highlight Scotland’s architecture and the quality of our built landscape.

The Festival of Architecture will take place from March to October 2016 and will form a key part of the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

The Festival will receive £300,000 from the Scottish Government and £100,000 from EventScotland, and is designed to boost appreciation and understanding of our built environment as well as highlighting the economic, social and cultural importance of good architecture.

The programme, which will be announced in due course, will comprise hundreds of events throughout Scotland, including exhibitions, performances, talks, tours, competitions and community projects as well as educational initiatives and conferences.

Announcing the funding Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:  ‘The RIAS Festival of Architecture will highlight the richness and breadth of Scotland’s architecture and the world quality of our built landscape.  It will be a nationwide event, showing how architecture touches everyone’s lives and engaging with Scots and visitors to Scotland – whether they have a professional involvement in architecture, or a passing interest.  Architecture is a pivotal part of Scotland’s culture. This funding from the Scottish Government and VisitScotland will allow the Festival of Architecture to connect Scottish communities and visitors with our architecture through events & exhibitions, Scotland-wide.

‘The 2016 Festival of Architecture will form a key part of the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design celebrations which will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s greatest assets, icons and hidden gems through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity to boost tourism in every corner of Scotland.’

The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design begins on 1 January 2016 and ends on 31 December 2016 and is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Festival of Architecture 2016, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

View the press release

Find out more about the ‘year of’ events in Scotland

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CPRE calls for special rural area characteristics to be recognised in housing policy

Concerns over house price affordability and availability in rural areas have been highlighted by The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in their latest paper ‘A living countryside: Responding to the challenges of providing affordable rural housing’, with a call for policy to recognise the unique needs of rural areas.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) writes:
A new paper from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) argues that the special characteristics of rural areas need to be recognised in Government housing policies, such as in the new Right to Buy proposal.

Following recent ministerial speeches citing the dearth of affordable homes, A living countryside: Responding to the challenges of providing affordable rural housing suggests that the already low supply of affordable housing in rural areas is being made worse by a lack of Government focus and the impact of a series of policies. The paper argues that the new Right to Buy measure, which extends the scheme to housing association properties, is likely to have highly damaging consequences for rural communities faced with disproportionately high house prices and ageing populations – unless rural exemptions can be secured.

An exemption for rural communities under 10,000 people from the Right to Buy extension is one of a number of initiatives proposed by CPRE’s paper to increase affordable housing in the countryside. Just 8 per cent of affordable housing stock is in rural areas.

Following changes to national policy in March 2015 that remove the requirement to provide affordable housing contributions on smaller sites, the paper argues that local authorities in rural areas should be allowed to set their own thresholds for affordable housing. As the majority of rural housing developments are small scale, and around two-thirds of affordable housing in very small settlements is provided through the system, this would enable authorities to respond to the needs of their communities more effectively.

The paper also argues that a standard and more inclusive definition of ‘rural community’ should underpin new initiatives to increase the provision of affordable housing. Current policy and legal definitions do not apply to vast swathes of rural areas and make it complex to assess the level of housing need. The paper recommends a standard definition identifying communities of fewer than 10,000 in rural local authorities.  A living countryside is CPRE’s fifth Housing Foresight paper from policy and research adviser Luke Burroughs. It is being launched today at an event with housing association Hastoe in the House of Lords. 

Luke Burroughs, policy and research adviser at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), comments: ‘The provision of affordable housing in the countryside is already in a dire state. To ensure living, sustainable communities in the countryside, rural areas must be considered a special case – starting with an exemption from the proposed extension to Right to Buy. The last thing we can afford to do is eat into our meagre supply of affordable homes.’

View the press release

View the report

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Heritage Open Days: Call for participation

The call for participation in heritage open days is still open, this year the days for events will be 10 – 13 September.

Heritage Open Days writes:
We’d love you to join us. Heritage Open Days is an inclusive event, encouraging different interpretations of heritage and culture around the country.

So, your site or event doesn’t need to be big or fancy or boast of famous connections (although we like those things too!), it just needs to meet the four conditions below:

1. Entrance must be FREE!
If you intend to raise money over Heritage Open Days, there are various ways of doing so but admission to the main attraction of your event has to be free of charge. Running a free tour if visitors have to pay a site entrance fee doesn’t count!

2. You need to offer something special:

  • Open a site or part of a site that isn’t usually open to the public
  • Offer free entry to a usually charging site/activity

And what if your site is open free of charge all year round?

  • Do something out of the ordinary! Here are some simple ideas:
    • Have volunteer stewards on site answering visitor questions.
    • Put on some activities or a competition.
    • Invite other groups to showcase their work.
    • Music and drama can bring a place alive.

3. You need to provide some form of information.
Heritage Open Days visitors want to learn something new. You can support their exploration by providing for example:

  • Guided tours
  • Talks
  • Info flyers
  • Quizzes
  • Exhibitions
  • Skill demonstrations

Check out our blog. It’s a treasure trove of ideas and tips from fellow organisers.

4. Your opening or event needs to take place within the Heritage Open Days dates.

However, your site doesn’t have to be open on all days or even for a full day. 

The dates for 2015 are 10-13 September.

If you can say yes to all four criteria, brilliant, now find out how we can support you or just come register with us!

View the heritage open day information on taking part

View a ‘call to take part’ poster

View Council of Europe information on European heritage days events

View IHBC NewsBlogs on heritage open days, doors open days and similar events

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Women and young people praised for involvement in NI Local Action Groups (LAGs)

The importance of local area groups (funded by LEADER) in managing local community issues in rural areas across Northern Ireland (NI) has been stressed by the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, who has also praised the involvement of women and young people in these organisations.

The Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development writes:
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has commended the vital contribution of women and young people to rural development through the newly formed Local Action Groups (LAGs).

The Rural Development Council (RDC) revealed that women and young people constitute 62.6% of the total membership of the ten LAGs across the north of Ireland (1,303 of 2,066 members). In addition to this, they represent just over 50% of the total LAG Board membership (113 of 220 members).

Speaking at the event at Loughry College in Cookstown, Minister O’Neill said: ‘LAGs were designed to offer everyone working and living in rural areas an opportunity to play their part in shaping and delivering local solutions to local challenges which will help our rural communities and economies flourish.   ‘At the heart of this design was the need for diversity of membership to ensure maximum representation and effectiveness. I have been encouraged by the numbers of women and young people who are keen to get involved in developing their local areas. It is great to see so many individuals from all walks of life come forward to play their part in making the LEADER part of the new programme a success.  We were particularly conscious of the need to make certain that representatives from the entire community have a role on their LAG and we look forward to your continued contribution and the benefits you will undoubtedly deliver for everyone.’

LAGs use the knowledge and skills of local people to identify the issues that matter most and develop a local rural strategy for implementing their vision on the ground. Delivering their strategy will help to reduce poverty, improve employment opportunities and help their areas flourish.

Teresa Canavan, Chief Executive of RDC, said: ‘LAGs are the means of positive change in our rural areas as they offer local people a real chance to engage in the development of their local area and receive information on the programme.  However, for them to be truly effective they require the support of as many rural organisations, individuals, businesses and groups as possible and we have been overwhelmed by the diversity of support and involvement for all of the LAGs.  This range of experience, skills and knowledge is the cornerstone in ensuring change for the better for our rural areas and the people who live and work in them.’

View the news release

Find out more about LEADER funding

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IHBC’s Gus Astley Student Award 2015 reminder: Closing July 31

GASA_homepageThe UK’s most inclusive award for taught coursework relating to the past and future of valued places – The Institute of Historic Building Conservation’s (IHBC) 2015 Annual Gus Astley Student Award – is still open for submissions, with a closing date of 31 July 2015 and offering the chance of a cash award of £500 as well as places at the IHBC’s Annual School in 2016!

IHBC Chair Mike Brown said: ‘The award is one of the highlights of the IHBC’s calendar, and we are always delighted to welcome the winner to our Annual School, as well as those commended runners up of course!  Indeed the winners from the 2014 award have been especially fortunate as they joined us in June in Norwich where we explored ‘Conservation and the diversity of place’ across a particularly welcoming weekend.  Their contributions to this challenging topic were especially welcome’.

IHBC Director Seán O’Reilly said: ‘Lecturers, trainers and educators on UK’s taught courses should be sure to circulate this news across their student and training networks, and remember that relevant disciplines range from history, heritage skills and management, to planning, regeneration and design.’ 

The IHBC Award website gives full details on the process and terms of the award, including how to submit digitally in accordance with our guidelines which may be downloaded from HERE

Download Awards flyer

IHBC newsblogs on the Gus Astley Student Award

IHBC’s 2014 School, attended by the winner of the 2013 Award

See more…

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IHBC seeks PINS appeals where skill deficits led to adverse outcomes

The IHBC has called for members to forward details of Planning Inspectorate appeals cases on heritage issues where the lack of relevant skills may have led to adverse conclusions, with details to be sent to the IHBC’s Policy Secretary David Kincaid at 

IHBC Policy Secretary David Kincaid said: ‘There have been conservation appeal cases reported to me recently where potentially ‘rogue’ outcomes could have arisen because the Planning Inspector did not appear to have relevant heritage skills. In a couple of cases the inspector’s expertise may have been limited to minerals or transportation.  If anyone has had a similar experience with an inspector for an appeal then please let me know (email’

‘If this proves to be more than an isolated problem it will be formally taken up with PINS.’

‘The IHBC very much appreciates any help members or colleagues can give in these matters.’

Please email any details to David Kincaid at

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