IHBC welcomes Prof May Cassar as 2015 Student Award judge

GASA WebsiteProfessor May Cassar, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Heritage at University College London (UCL) has been appointed as the judge for this year’s IHBC Gus Astley Student Awards, the Institute’s annual award presented for an outstanding item of relevant work presented as part of a UK taught course.

Speaking about her appointment as judge, Professor Cassar offered her appreciation of the offer to judge the awards, saying: ‘I am delighted to accept the IHBC’s invitation to judge the Gus Astley Award 2015.  The Award recognises the quality of work into the historic built environment carried out by conservation students across the UK.  I look forward to supporting the IHBC’s drive for conservation excellence and to helping to establish the next generation of historic built environment professionals.’

Professor Cassar is especially well known for her interdisciplinary research into the impact of climate change on cultural heritage, working with external partners such as the British Museum, the former English Heritage as well as international bodies.  She has previously acted as Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee Inquiry on Science and Heritage between 2005 and 2006, and was awarded the Royal Warrant Holder Association’s 2012 Plowden Medal, as Programme Director of the AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Research Programme which recognised her outstanding commitment to heritage conservation.

David McDonald, IHBC Education Secretary said: ‘The IHBC’s annual Gus Astley Student Award goes on from strength to strength, and having Professor May Cassar as its judge this year is a real testament to its academic reputation. Professor Cassar’s role as Director of Sustainable Heritage at the Bartlett, along with her expertise in so many aspects of conservation, from tangible to cultural heritage, means that she is especially well-placed to assess the wide range of dissertations submitted’.

Bob Kindred MBE, IHBC Education Committee Vice Chair and Chair of the Gus Astley Awards Trustees said: ‘I am delighted to welcome Professor Cassar as the judge for the awards in the forthcoming year. The standard of submissions for these prestigious conservation awards continues at an impressive level and I’m sure selecting a winner will be rewarding task for Professor Cassar.’

‘The winner and all the other successful shortlisted candidates will receive their prizes at the IHBC’s 2016 School in Worcester between 23-25 June 2016, and I look forward to meeting them there.  In conversation with past recipients, I know that offering the shortlisted student nominees a place at the School is a great incentive to participate, and is one of the best ways for us to help them in the formative stages of their careers and for them to be able to experience the wide range of work done by the Institute’s members.’ 

Find out more about Professor Cassar’s work at SEAHA (the Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology)

More information about Professor Cassar’s award of the Plowden Medal in 2012

Background information on GASA Awards 

Information on the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage

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THA responds to ‘Fixing the Foundations’ + releases call for evidence

The Heritage Alliance has released a statement responding to the recent Treasury’s Statement of Intent, Fixing the Foundations: The Government’s Productivity Plan (highlighting issues of particular concern to the historic environment), and are also seeking your evidence to assist in forming a response to the comprehensive spending review, by 21 August.

The Heritage Alliance (THA) writes:
The Heritage Alliance welcomes HM Treasury’s Statement of Intent, Fixing the Foundations: The Government’s Productivity Plan, as a means of addressing the housing shortage in the UK. The Alliance has long supported the Government’s campaign to streamline the planning system while conserving our heritage in order to maximise its economic, environmental and social returns.

The Plan proposes changes to the wider planning system, but we limit our comments to its potential implications for the historic environment and those who care for it.

Our general concerns are:

  1. The Plan has a presumption that planning is a barrier to development and that reducing the level of planning controls will directly increase productivity, but it does not cover supporting local planning authorities to make them more efficient and thus able to make sound decisions in a timely fashion. In our view good planning is, and has long been, a necessary precondition for increasing productivity through helping deliver attractive places where people want to live and work. In addition, businesses that depend upon Britain’s built and natural heritage, including our highly productive tourism and creative industries, as well as the heritage industry itself, require a planning system that can effectively manage and conserve heritage from harmful change.
  2. The Plan makes little reference to capacity and expertise in Local Planning Authorities to manage the planning system, and in particular the historic environment, efficiently and effectively to create better places.
  3. There needs to be secure funding for Historic England to perform its national role of advising and helping local planning authorities with heritage expertise.
  4. There is little discussion of safeguards for the environment, the historic environment in particular, or the importance of existing legislation for either designated or undesignated heritage assets on development sites and simplified planning areas like brownfield sites.
  5. The trend towards a Zonal System for Brownfield Land which militates against mixed uses or sustainable development, fails to recognise and protect its archaeological interest, does not understand or make use of the environment in the area, and reduces control over the quality of design.
  6. There is no reference to sustainable development in the Plan, though the presumption in favour of sustainable development is the ‘golden thread’ running through the National Planning Policy Framework.

View the full THA response to Fixing the Foundations (including specific responses to historic environment safeguarding, Local Authority spending, borwnfield land zoning, design and placemaking and community engagement) on THA’s website

And find out how to help the THA Comprehensive Spending Review response on THA’s website

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CITB supports new ‘WEcan’ work experience programme

The new WEcan work experience initiative which highlights opportunities in different career paths and improves transferable skills for young people (as well as appointing youth ambassadors for peer to peer support) is being supported by CITB, who will be highlighting those who offer construction work experience and career opportunities.

CITB writes:
A new campaign ‘WEcan’ has been launched to help give young people a taste of working life. The new government initiative aims to help provide more youngsters with the chance to benefit from work experience placements, something Employment Minister Priti Patel says will boost their prospects of getting a job.

CITB are one of many organisations already backing the work experience campaign, and it is hoped that many more will now come on board and offer work experience placements.

The initiative will include the appointment of youth ambassadors, who will offer young people advice on how to get a placement.  Ms Patel says the campaign aims to help young people gain valuable skills as well as an insight into the world of work.  She said: “Young people tell me they can’t get a job without work experience, but they can’t get work experience without a job.  That is why we are launching the WEcan campaign to give young people practical advice about making the most of their summer holidays – and beyond – to gain valuable business skills.  With 14 million jobs likely to open up in the UK in the next decade, this one nation government wants young people to be at the forefront of the opportunities to get the best start in life.”

CITB supports work experience in construction through its Experience Construction Project (ECP), which is a work experience programme that allows applicants and employers to make the right choice before they fill an apprenticeship place.

CITB will be supporting the WEcan campaign in the coming weeks by highlighting those in the construction industry that are supporting work experience in the sector.

View the press release

Find out more about WEcan

Find out more about CITB and work experience opportunities

IHBC newblogs on construction

IHBC learning opportunities site

IHBC jobs etc

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RTPI research – building in the green belt

The RTPI have released new research which shows that constructing new homes in London’s green belt could result in 3.9-7.5 million car journeys each week.

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) writes:
Using commuting data from the 2011 Census (provided by Nomis) the RTPI has today published analysis which finds that adding 1 million homes near railway stations in London’s Metropolitan green belt could see 3.9-7.5 million car journeys each week added to roads which are already struggling with congestion and delays. These findings – Building in the green belt? A report into commuting in the Metropolitan green belt challenge the assumption that building in the green belt around railway stations would see the majority of new residents using the train to get to jobs in London and could therefore be easily accommodated.

Over the past year various think tanks, academics and policy commentators have considered whether green belt boundaries around London should be relaxed in order to ease the housing crisis. These proposals often suggest the release of green belt land within easy walking or cycling distance of key railway stations, land which could provide space for figures upwards of 1 million homes. The assumption behind these proposals is that the majority of new residents will commute by rail to jobs in central London, enabling sustainable housing growth in the wider Metropolitan region without placing excessive strain on existing roads. However the implications of growth on commuting patterns is difficult to predict without looking at those already living in the green belt. Where are these residents travelling for work, and what methods of transport are they using to get there?

The RTPI examined commuting data for five medium-sized towns within the existing Metropolitan green belt, towns which are centred around railway stations and have direct connections to central London. We found that in these five towns, only 7.4% of commuters actually travel to inner London by train on a regular basis, despite living within easy walking or cycling distance of a station. The majority of commuters (72%) instead travel by private vehicle, mostly driving to jobs within their hometown and to other places not in London.

Janet Askew, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said:  “If 1 million new homes were built in the green belt in this way, this is likely to result in a huge increase in the number of car journeys being made across the green belt to work, and between schools health facilities and stations.  Quite apart from other good reasons why building in the green belt on such a scale might be opposed, these figures demonstrate a fundamental flaw in the reasoning that there is a quick fix and a sustainable solution to the housing crisis by putting large numbers of new homes close to railway stations. While it is difficult to predict exactly future commuting patterns, the overwhelming evidence is that people will use their cars and this will result in vastly increased numbers of car journeys in and through the green belt.”

Trudi Elliott, Chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said:  “The outcome of the analysis was surprising given the range of voices calling for housing around railway stations in the green belt. Our data shows, using one region of the green belt, just how complex the issue of commuting patterns is and how unpredictable they are likely to be in the future. The green belt is an important planning tool. Our findings demonstrate that it is vital to have an evidence base before you make major policy.”

The view of the RTPI is that brownfield sites should be looked at as a priority for housing but not all brownfield sites will be suitable. The housing crisis is complex and will require a number of different policy solutions, such as increasing access to mortgage finance, improving transport and infrastructure, encouraging the house builders to build more homes, and a strong, delivery focussed planning system. Major proposals for new homes, whether they are in the green belt or on brownfield sites, must be preceded by adequate investment in schools, health, transport and other infrastructure, and planned in a strategic and holistic way, with up to date local plans being critical. Any development in the green belt continues to need rigorous justification under the planning system and there are many checks and balances in place.

The five towns in the RTPI analysis were: Hemel Hempstead, High Wycombe, Watford, Maidenhead and Bracknell.

The RTPI is also publishing today a short YouTube film and a new public information note explaining the history, background and purpose of the green belt.  A recent Ipsos Mori poll found 71% of all age groups knew just a little/ heard of but know nothing/never heard of green belt land. Among the under 34s this was 85% and among the under 24s the figure was 92%.

View the full report

View the YouTube film on green belt origins

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Have Your Say – Help HE shape the HAR register

Historic England are seeking opinions on ways in which to improve the Buildings At Risk Register and information on how you use it, through a simple online survey.

Find the survey online

HE on Heritage At Risk

HE compilation of Local Authorities which have BAR registers

IHBC newsblogs on buildings at Risk 

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Have Your Say – Place Assessment Tool

Architecture and Design Scotland and NHS Scotland are seeking views about the recently developed ‘Place Standard Assessment Tool’, through a short online survey.

A+DS writes:
A+DS has been working with partners NHS Scotland and Scottish Government to develop a Place Standard Assessment tool. The aim of the Place Standard tool is to support the delivery of high quality places – which can be instrumental in reducing health inequalities.

Earlier this year, the project team carried out a number of workshops and public engagement activities to gather your views on the Place standard tool. That feedback has assisted us in developing this new, working draft.

We would welcome your views. To complete a short survey and offer your comments please click this link

View the news release and more information on the tools (including comments on previous versions)

IHBC newsblogs on design

IHBC newsblogs on health

IHBC Scotland Branch

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London is the ‘most Googled’ for culture

London & Partners (the official promotional company for London) has released the results of a study which shows that London is the ‘most googled’ city in the world for cultural events and attractions.

London & Partners writes:
London is the most Googled city in the world for art galleries, performing arts and innovative art and design, according to new insights released by London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional company for the city, and Google to mark the launch of London’s blockbuster Autumn Season of Culture.

Search insights from Google show that London’s theatres generate more searches than those in any other city, while international searches for globally renowned museums rank the Science Museum in London as the most Googled museum in the world*.

The Natural History Museum and the British Museum rank second and third according to Google, followed by The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

The data from Google also shows that London is the most searched for city in the world to visit. Separate research published by London & Partners and MHM Insight reveal that in 2014/15 London’s museums and galleries received 17.9 million overseas visits, accounting for 57% of the total 31.5 million visits.

View the full press release and information on the forthcoming cultural events in London

IHBC London Branch

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Energy efficiency and old buildings – how not to get it wrong!

Conference venue – Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives,








Join the IHBC Wales Branch for their conference on making traditional and historic buildings more energy efficient and sustainable without putting them at risk of unintended consequences.

Hear about:

  • What could happen when you don’t get it right!
  • What is best practice in the way we use and treat buildings including energy efficiency retrofit
  • Some of the latest research, decision making tools and guidance.

Clear your diary for Wednesday 2nd September 2015 (9.30am – 1.30pm) at Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives – all for only £30 (including lunch and refreshments)

Find out more and BOOK NOW 

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Call for Evidence- House of Lords Select Committee on BE

The House of Lords Select Committee for the Built Environment has released a call for written evidence, on policy making for the built environment; aiming to ‘ensure better planning and design and whether we have the right balance between national policy and local accountability for planning decisions’- closing date for submissions is 6 October.

The House of Lords Select Committee for Built Environment writes:
The new House of Lords Committee on National Policy for the Built Environment has today issued its call for written evidence, setting out the scope of its inquiry and asking for evidence submissions.  Issues around housing and the built environment are a pressing concern in England with parts of the country facing acute housing shortages and an affordability crisis, while the legacy of poorly planned and designed developments can blight communities.

The Committee will seek to establish what steps can be taken to ensure better planning and design and whether we have the right balance between national policy and local accountability for planning decisions. It will also examine the pressing national need for appropriate homes for a changing population, bearing in mind that decisions taken today will have continuing effects in the years to come.

Commenting Baroness O’Cathain, Chairman of the Committee, said:

‘We live, travel and work in the built environment and it affects us all in numerous ways, from our health and happiness to the strength of our communities and the prevalence of crime and anti-social behaviour. It is increasingly clear that the design and quality of our places, and therefore our lives, could be improved.

‘We need to plan our built environment to meet future demographic, environmental, economic and social challenges. Design and architecture, public and green spaces, the sustainability and resilience of buildings and the provision of vital infrastructure are all essential parts of this process. To achieve this, we need the right priorities, policies and incentives from national Government and the sufficient skills and resources for local government to deliver on an ambitious vision for the future. In this country we have a wonderful heritage of excellent housing in lovely settings; we must ensure that future generations can be proud of the legacy resulting from the decisions and actions of this generation.

‘The supply of housing is a long-standing problem; delivery has neither kept up with public need nor politicians’ targets. We need to look at new ways of tackling the obstacles that have prevented progress being made and we need an appropriate planning regime to ensure a balance between giving local residents a voice and meeting our urgent needs.

‘Improving our built environment is likely to be a key area for Government policy over the next decade and our inquiry gives people the chance to make their voice heard. When it comes to the built environment, all of us have views on the places we live, and I would therefore encourage as many people as possible to send us written evidence before our deadline on 6 October.’

The call for written evidence contains thirteen questions that the Committee wish to receive responses to.

View the news release

Respond to the call for evidence

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Fast Track Shale Gas Planning Applications

The Government has announced a new dedicated planning service for shale gas, aiming to fast track the decision making process.

The DECC writes:
Shale gas planning applications will be fast-tracked through a new, dedicated planning process, under measures announced today (13 August 2015).

Amber Rudd and Greg Clark today announced plans that will ensure local people have a strong say over the development of shale exploration in their area – but will ensure communities and the industry benefit from a swift process for developing safe and suitable new sites.

Today’s measures include identifying councils that repeatedly fail to determine oil and gas applications within the 16 week statutory timeframe, with subsequent applications potentially decided by the Communities Secretary.

Energy and climate change Secretary Amber Rudd said:  ‘As a One Nation Government, we are backing the safe development of shale gas because it’s good for jobs giving hardworking people and their families more financial security, good for our energy security and part of our plan to decarbonise the economy. We need more secure, home grown energy supplies – and shale gas must play a part in that.

‘To ensure we get this industry up and running we can’t have a planning system that sees applications dragged out for months, or even years on end. Oversight by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency of shale developments makes our commitment to safety and the environment crystal clear. We now need, above all else, a system that delivers timely planning decisions and works effectively for local people and developers.’

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said:

‘There is huge potential right across the country for safe and sustainable use of shale gas, to provide a clean long term energy source and create British jobs and growth.  People’s safety and the environment will remain paramount and communities will always be involved in planning applications but no one benefits from uncertainty caused by delays in planning decisions. By fast tracking any appropriate applications today’s changes will tackle potential hold ups in the system.

The government has made clear shale is a national priority, helping to move the UK to a low-carbon economy.  But ministers want to ensure shale applications can’t be frustrated by slow and confused decision making amongst councils, which benefits no one.  If planning applications for shale exploration developments take months or even years it can create uncertainty for communities and prevent the development of a potentially vital national industry.  Today’s measures will mean ministers will consider calling in any application for shale exploration, and will recover appeals on a case-by-case basis.’

Local communities will remain fully involved in planning decisions with any shale application – whether decided by councils or government. And demanding planning rules to ensure shale development happens only at appropriate sites remain unchanged.  On top of this, strong safety and environmental safeguards are also already in place through the regulatory regime to ensure shale exploration and extraction is safe and only happens in appropriate places.

As a quasi-judicial process planning applications will always be considered with due process and a fair hearing – but today’s measures will prevent the long delays that mean uncertainty both for business and for local residents.

Today’s measures include:

  • The Communities Secretary actively considering calling in on a case by case basis shale planning applications and considering recovering appeals
  • Identifying councils that repeatedly fail to determine oil and gas applications within the 16 week statutory timeframe requirement (unless applicants agree to a longer period). Underperforming councils’ gas and oil planning applications could be determined by the Communities Secretary
  • Adding shale applications as a specific criterion for recovery of appeals, to ensure no application can ‘fall through the cracks’
  • Ensuring planning call ins and appeals involving shale applications are prioritised by the Planning Inspectorate
  • Taking forward work on revising permitted development rights for drilling boreholes for groundwater monitoring.

The government also believes that communities hosting shale gas developments should share in the financial returns they generate, and will be presenting proposals later in the year on the design of a new sovereign wealth fund.

View the press release

IHBC newsblogs on energy

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Planning Obligations guidance revised following appeal judgement

Paragraphs 012-023 of the planning obligations guidance have been removed following a High Court legal judgement on land affecting two Berkshire planning authorities.

View the full judgement text

View the guidance

View a commentary on the judgement by Planning Portal

View an LGA commentary on the judement

View all Planning Practice Guidance online

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Historic Scotland publishes new Inform Guides

Historic Scotland have published three new ‘Inform Guides’ which provide short summaries of issues affecting the care and repair of traditional buildings.

The three new publications are:

  • Hot-mixed Lime Mortars
  • Clay Mortars for Masonry Buildings
  • Earth and Clay Construction

To request a paper copy of the guides contact hs.cgoutreach@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

You can download the guides and view all previous publications online 

IHBC newsblogs on earth construction

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Use your voice: Nominations open to become a Trustee of Civic Voice

Nominations are open for Trustee positions for Civic Voice, with a closing date of 7 September (appointments will be made in October).

Civic Voice writes:
Being a Trustee of Civic Voice gives you an opportunity to help shape one of the oldest social movements in the country. As a Trustee, you can help us build on the important progress established in our first few years and inspire many more individuals to show civic pride and get involved in their community.

The Board meets about six times each year and there are a number of other commitments, such as AGMs and major networking events. It is an opportunity to really influence the future direction of Civic Voice. Trustees are elected by civic societies and are expected to be members. If you are interested in standing for the board for 2015, please review the information online and we would welcome arranging an informal conversation with you and our Executive Director, Ian Harvey.

If you wish to apply to be a Trustee, your application must be received by Monday 7th September. You will then be entered into a ballot to be voted on by Civic Voice members. Results will be announced at our AGM in Bristol on 24th October.

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Ian Harvey, Executive Director via info@civicvoice.org.uk.

View more information on the roles, including a job description and application form

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Plan your September now!

As many IHBC members will know, September is an opportunity to see behind the scenes of buildings which are not normally open to the public, for free, through European Heritage Open Days.

A selection of events which may be of interest (covering all IHBC regions) include:

Happy exploring!

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IHBC Research Note- LA Salary Trends

Toolbox Homepage imageThe IHBC has just launched the next in its new research note programme, accessible through the institute’s web ‘Toolbox’, observing and reporting on Local Authority conservation salary trends.

The research note covers long term trends from 1998 to the present day.

Bob Kindred (IHBC’s Research Consultant) said ‘The Institute continues to monitor local authority heritage management posts on a weekly basis, something we have been doing since 1998.  We have noted that in the first half of this year there have been almost as many posts advertised as was the case in the whole of 2013-14, although the underlying reasons for this remain unclear.’

This is one of a series of occasional research and Guidance Notes published by The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC).  IHBC Guidance Notes offer current and recent guidance into topics that we consider crucial to the promotion of good built and historic environment conservation policy and practice.  The Notes necessarily reflect knowledge and practice at the time they were developed, while the IHBC always welcomes new case examples, feedback and comment to research@ihbc.org.uk for future revisions and updates.

Download the current data on LPA posts from IHBC Toolbox

For links to the Guidance Notes see here in the IHBC Toolbox  

For links to the Research Notes see here in the IHBC Toolbox

Background on IHBC Toolbox

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NTS appoints new fundraising Head of Development.

A new appointment at NTS will be helping to build the heritage fundraising work of the Trust; Mark Bishop has been appointed the new Head of Development.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) writes:
Scotland’s largest conservation charity has announced the appointment of a new Head of Development, who will take forward its ambitious fundraising targets.

Mark Bishop will join the National Trust for Scotland on 5 October. He will be in charge of a fundraising team that will be responsible for securing donations, bequests and support towards the conservation of Scotland’s most iconic and best-loved heritage.

Mark has spent the last six and half years as Director of Fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK, in which time he oversaw initiatives that helped to grow the charity’s income by 600%, including the high-profile Men United campaign.

Previously Mark was Head of Corporate Fundraising at Leonard Cheshire Disability for five years following earlier career spells with HarperCollins publishers and Sky Television. He is a graduate of the University of Stirling, with an M.Phil in Publishing Studies.

Welcoming Mark, the National Trust for Scotland’s Chief Executive, Simon Skinner said: ‘Mark will play a pivotal role in the Trust as we look forward to the future.  We have already announced target of raising an additional £46 million over the next ten years to fuel the existing conservation objectives we have in place – but we must and we will go beyond this with new and much more ambitious fundraising programmes.  Mark will be responsible for designing a new strategy that will enable us to launch fresh appeals and campaigns both at home and abroad. The money raised will be the catalyst for transformational efforts to conserve and promote the best of Scottish heritage for the benefit of current and future generations.’

Mark Bishop said: ‘I’m really delighted to be joining such a well-respected and valued organisation as the National Trust for Scotland.  Under Simon’s leadership I’m certain that we can deliver a real step-change that will ensure the future success of the charity. I am really impressed by his passion and vision and with my team I will help deliver on this by setting and meeting bold new income targets.  I am particularly looking forward to playing a part in building a movement of committed supporters who care about Scotland’s heritage: I want to help people appreciate just how wonderful the places cared for by the Trust are.’

The National Trust for Scotland is an independent charity with 330,000 members. Among the properties the charity cares for are Glencoe, Culloden and Bannockburn battlefields, Culzean and Brodick Castles, Inverewe Garden and Estate and St Kilda, the UK’s only Dual World Heritage Site.

As well as responsibility for 190,000 acres of countryside, 46 Munro mountains, 394 miles of mountain footpaths, 10,000 archaeological sites and 35 major gardens, the Trust also counts on the support of 3,500 volunteers, welcomes 2½ million visitors a year and provides educational activity for schools and communities.

View the press release

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