Scotland’s first Rural Parliament

The first meeting of Scotland’s rural Parliament was held in Oban last week, and closed with a resolution to create a more empowered and connected rural Scotland, with ideas for bringing power to local communities.

Scottish Rural Action writes:
Scotland’s first Rural Parliament has closed with a call for action to achieve a more empowered, connected and sustainable rural Scotland. And delegates agreed to ask the Scottish Government to commit to a national conversation on local democratic renewal as a first step towards radical reform of local government that will bring power much closer to communities.

More than 400 delegates attended over the three days of the Rural Parliament, and in the final session agreed by an overwhelming majority that the Rural Parliament should continue, with the next full session taking place in 2016. Bids to host that event will be invited from rural communities, and there will be a smaller meeting with Scottish Ministers in 2015 to take stock of progress on the issues discussed in Oban.

Find out more about the Parliament

Scottish Rural Parliament article

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Upgrading of listing of war memorials for Armistice Day

Six English war memorials have had their listing upgraded, in a review by English Heritage (EH) prior to Armistice Day. 

English Heritage writes:
Ed Vaizey Minister for Heritage, has upgraded the listed status of six of England’s most iconic war memorials upon the advice of English Heritage. Designed by the leading architects of the day, all of them are a poignant, physical reminder of the sacrifices and loss the First World War brought about. Four have been upgraded to Grade I, the highest possible listing, placing them among the 2.5% of buildings and structures at this grade. The remaining two have been upgraded to Grade II*, placing them in the 5.5% of listed buildings.

These are:

  • Guards Memorial, Horseguards Parade, Westminster, Grade I
  • Birmingham Hall of Memory, Grade I
  • The Response War Memorial, Newcastle, Grade I
  • Port Sunlight War Memorial, Wirral, Grade I
  • Lewes War Memorial, High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, Grade II*
  • The War Memorial, St Peter’s Street, Norwich, Grade II* 

IHBC newsblogs on war memorials 

EH press release 

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Conservation & heritage craft apprenticeship opportunities

Fantastic opportunities for anyone aged over 16 interested in a heritage crafts career are available, through a scheme run by the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) and Allied Livery Companies, which is now seeking applications for support for apprenticeships in stone, embroidery, paper or textile conservation or culinary arts, with a closing date of 1 December.

QEST writes:
The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) Heritage Crafts Apprenticeships are for those who wish to start learning a heritage craft. The Apprenticeships, in association with the Allied Livery Companies, are in five categories – embroidery, stone, paper or textile conservation and culinary arts. The fifth category is open to all crafts.

Applicants are likely to have had some experience and knowledge of the craft, and are aiming to pursue the craft as a career. It is possible for the Apprentices to work with one Master Craftsperson as a trainer and mentor, or to work with various high level craftspeople to learn different, but linked, skills. This Award is being administered by QEST.

Nominations for the award can come from trainee or trainer/employer. Trainers/employers may apply without a specific apprentice in mind, but apprentices must secure the agreement of a trainer/employer.  Initial judging and shortlisting will be by the Heritage Crafts Awards judging team, and specialist judges, and final interview, selection and approval will be by QEST committee including specialist judges. There will be HCA representation on this committee. Interviews will be in London and are will take place from 8 to 12 December 2014. The QEST Heritage Crafts Apprentices will be honoured at the HCA Spring Conference. on 9 May 2015.

Specialist judges are:

  • Stone – Thomas Appleton, Lettercutter and Stonemason
  • Embroidery – Anne Butcher, Programme Director, Royal School of Needework
  • Conservation – Susan Bradshaw, Professional Development Manager, Institute of Conservation
  • Culinary arts – to be confirmed

Closing date for applications for this Award: Monday 1 December 2014, 2pm

To apply Read the application notes and then download an application form

QEST awards

Application notes

IHBC Jobs etc

IHBC awards etc

IHBC newsblogs on heritage crafts

IHBC newsblogs on apprenticeships

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Construction news: Skillbuild at the NEC & a wages study

Construction apprentices from throughout the UK are taking part in a national showcase and competition of skill this week at ‘Skillbuild’, representing their colleges and employers, and at the same time a new study has revealed news of wages increases throughout the construction industry over recent months.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) writes:
Construction industry workers have seen their pay levels increase at twice the UK average over recent months, according to a new study.

Research from the Hays recruitment firm shows that some building professionals have benefited from wage rises of more than 10% over the last 12 months.  Meanwhile, the sector’s average wage improvement of 3.6% is thought to be twice the national figure.

Looking ahead to 2015, almost three quarters (71%) of employers in the sector intend to offer further pay rises to their workers.

The results reflect rising activity levels within the UK construction industry, with employers aiming to secure skilled workers as they bid for new contracts.

Apprenticeships remain a key area of focus for building firms, with Hays reporting that 46% have operated such schemes over the last year. Another 31% have increased their staff training budgets.

Construction workers in London have benefited from some of the highest pay awards in recent times. Hays added that the East Midlands and the South East have also seen average salary increases climb above the 5% mark.  Contract and project managers, quantity surveyors and site managers are among the professionals who are currently commanding the largest salary rises.

With more than eight in 10 (84%) construction firms anticipating skills shortages in the 12 months ahead, Hays said 77% now intend to increase their headcounts.  The growing confidence levels which have been seen among employers appear to be filtering through to construction workers on the ground.  Nearly two thirds (63%) of the workers who were questioned said they may look to move to a new employer in 2015.

Andrew Bredin, managing director of Hays Construction & Property, said jobseekers in the building trade often have their “pick” of jobs.

He said: ‘Some employees have already spotted they can earn more and decided to make a career move.’  However, Mr Bredin added that some employers might face a “crisis” when trying to hold on to their most talented members of staff.

He concluded: ‘With construction employees reporting high levels of dissatisfaction with pay, employers will need to look at what they can offer in order to attract and retain the best employees.’

Looking beyond the construction sector and more towards the general employment market, Hays said IT and procurement are among the other industries where large salary rises have been recorded this year.

The group said that all professions have seen counter-offers become more commonplace, with employers competing strongly for new talent.

CITB wages press release

WorldSkills UK & competitions

UK CITB competition finalists & colleges

View a video about Skillbuild and how it encourages apprentices to strive for excellence

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Women in architecture – help sought with survey

Architects’ Journal (AJ) are seeking help from all those who work or study architecture in their fourth annual survey, which closes at the end of November.

Architects Journal (AJ) writes:
The AJ is asking architects, technologists, clients and students to fill in this year’s Women in Architecture survey and help us track the evolving status of women in the profession.

The survey is open to both men and women working in the built environment and aims to track perceptions of equality, salary and flexible working.

The anonymous survey asks questions about career challenges and experiences working in architecture covering subjects such as sexual discrimination, childcare, work/life balance and pay.

Complete the survey and find out more about the previous year’s trends

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Entry call: Are you a successful heritage business?

IHBC members and heritage consultancies may be interested in a new competition launched by the HM Government ‘Business is Great Britain’ which seeks to celebrate good news in successful business; so consider entering your own business to share the messages of the positive economic impacts of heritage conservation, but do enter before the closing date of Monday 15 December.

Business is Great writes:
Do you run a small business based in the UK?

Have you gone above and beyond to help grow your business or conjured up innovative ways to help profits soar?

If so, enter now and you could be crowned one of next GREAT Faces of British Business, in association with BT.

The Business is GREAT Britain campaign has partnered with BT to search for the most exciting and inspiring small businesses Britain has to offer. The competition is seeking to find the best of British innovation and expansion, across the country in the following categories:

– Best exporter
– Most innovative small business
– Best growth story

The competition will be run in two stages, with the first round running regionally until December, before the national final takes place. The overall national winner and GREAT face of British Business, in association with BT, will be announced in March.

Each regional winner will be shortlisted for entry into the national competition to find an overall GREAT Face of British Business. The lucky winner of the national competition will receive an exclusive prize package for their business worth £30,000, including the chance for it to star in a nationwide advertising campaign.

The prize also includes: an iPad and free Wi-Fi for a year courtesy of BT, national and local media coverage for your business, and a support package from UK Trade & Investment.

To be in with a chance of winning, just fill your details in below selecting your region and the category(ies) you would like to enter. Please enter as many categories as you feel are appropriate for your small business.

Closing date for entries: Monday 15 December 2014. 

Find out more about the HM Government campaign 

Enter the Great Business competition

IHBC’s awards etc page 

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IHBC’s Branch Connection Day 2014: Associates etc.

Old Joint Stock image

The Old Joint Stock, Birmingham – venue for Branch Connection Day 2014

This year the annual Branch Connection Day took place in Birmingham on 5 November, with volunteer Branch representatives invited to a free review and update on IHBC membership application processes and support, including the Associate membership category, with the day also offering opportunities for networking and continuing professional development.

IHBC Director Seán O’Reilly said: ‘The IHBC’s Branch Connection Days are one of the most important ways for IHBC volunteers from across the UK to get together, explore developments and hear about developments.’

‘This year the topic was especially important as it covered our new accreditation programme for Associates.  While this huge programme is still being rolled out – the dedicated Associate application forms should become available over the next few weeks – it’s critical we introduce our volunteers to these developments as early as we can.  This Connection Day offered a perfect opportunity for just that’.

Paul Butler, IHBC’s Membership Secretary, and Fiona Newton IHBC’s Projects Officer, explored with delegates the new category of IHBC accreditation for Associates, as well as summarising how the membership application process worked.

Fiona Newton said ‘The people in your local IHBC branch who are most involved in membership will now know more about Associate status and how to apply for it.  If this seems like the accreditation category for you, they will be better be able to help you through the process.’

Kate Kendall, IHBC’s LETS Officer, for ‘Learning Education Training and Standards’, talked about how she had been meeting Branch volunteers since her recent appointment, and finding out about how they worked, as well as exploring the opportunities her role brought in supporting the applications process, including the new category of Associate.

Kate said ‘Our new Associate Membership category could be the route for you, whether you? want to use it as a stepping stone to full membership or feel that it is sufficient in itself?.  And do get in touch with your local Branch. Colleagues will be able to provide some helpful advice and guidance about what would best suit your requirements.’

Alison McCandlish, IHBC’s NewsBlog consultant author and social media adviser, outlined some possibilities for using social media in Branches.  If your branch would like to discuss opportunities for training or support with this please get in touch with Alison via newsblog@ihbc.co.uk.

For individual queries on membership see the range of helpful guidance notes which are available online and contact your local Branch or the IHBC’s national office.

Find out about your local IHBC branch and upcoming events on the Branches pages

View the IHBC membership guides on the new associate category on the IHBC website

View the Derby membership support day on Storify (summarising the day using digital storytelling)  and the video blog of the day.

Apply online to join IHBC

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£23 million for neighbourhood planning in England

A new fund has been announced in the last week which is designed to get more communities to become involved in neighbourhood planning.

DCLG writes:
Ministers today (31 October 2014) announced £23 million new funding to encourage more communities across England to get involved in neighbourhood planning, allowing local people to put forward and vote on their proposals for the type of development in their area, and where it should go.

Local people can draw up ‘neighbourhood plans’ that can be used in determining planning applications, and ‘neighbourhood development orders’ that grant planning permission, and vote them into force in a referendum.

Around 1,200 communities across England have already begun the process of neighbourhood planning, with 33 plans and 1 order having been approved in local referendums – a 100% success rate. The coalition government has so far supported more than 700 local groups with developing their plans.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: ‘With more than a thousand communities across the country already involved in neighbourhood planning this government is giving local people a real say in shaping what gets built where in their local area, and encouraging much needed new house building.  I now want to take this further, to get more people and communities involved in neighbourhood planning, and the £23 million I am announcing today will help many more community groups to bring their neighbourhood plans into reality.’

Minister for Communities Stephen Williams said: ‘This coalition government pledged right from the start to give people back powers to decide for themselves how to run their community and this additional £23 million for neighbourhood planning is another example of how we’re delivering on that.  Whether it’s allowing people to list a treasured local asset against sell off, encouraging share offers to buy the local pub or getting people together to decide what should be built where, this coalition government is shifting power back locally.’

Neighbourhood planning – part of the coalition government’s localism agenda to give more power to local people – allows people to choose where new housing and businesses should go, the size and density of new building and can give the green light to developments.

The funding announced today will help more communities become neighbourhood planning areas by:

  • providing community groups a further £1 million for grants during this financial year, in addition to the £4.25 million already awarded since 2013 – grants of up to £7,000 can now be applied for on org.uk.
  • making available £22.5 million over 2015 to 2018 to provide community groups with expert advice, grant funding and technical assistance to get neighbourhood plans and orders from their inception to their coming into force following a local referendum – this is a 50% increase in the value of the existing support
  • providing £100,000 to enable groups to organise workshops on neighbourhood planning in their local area, run by knowledgeable advocates of neighbourhood planning and aiming to give communities the information and encouragement needed to start on a neighbourhood plan

Local planning authorities can also take advantage of a £12 million funding pot to help them meet the cost of their responsibilities and to support local communities by claiming up to £100,000 a year each to help their communities start a neighbourhood plan, with an additional £25,000 for each plan or order that passes an examination.

The coalition government is also encouraging communities to consider how neighbourhood planning could help address local issues in the future. A range of support services, including grants, a dedicated phone line, and advice from planning experts are currently available.

New evidence published today also suggests that communities have largely been able to access the skills, knowledge and support they need for neighbourhood planning. This is according to the first primary research of its kind into people’s experiences of neighbourhood planning published today by Locality, conducted by the University of Reading.

Search Planning Portal

UK Gov press release

View the report on user’s experiences of planning on the website

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Preston bus station: proposals for a future

Proposals for a £23m redevelopment of Preston’s Grade II-listed bus station, which would include a youth centre have been unveiled by Lancashire County Council which together with Preston Youth Zone has unveiled plans for a sports hall, arts facilities as well as 36 new bus bays in the building.

Lancashire CC press release

Search Planning Portal

Background info at IHBC NewsBlogs

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Derry-Londonderry Legacy Fund invites entries

The Arts and Heritage Fund for Derry-Londonderry (established by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Derry City Council) has announced a series of projects which have been funded to date and is inviting further submissions by 15 January.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland writes:
The Legacy Fund for Derry opened for applications on 31st October, 2014. The fund, worth a total of £900,000, was set-up by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Derry City Council earlier this year and will bring three years of exciting arts and heritage projects to the city of Derry-Londonderry.

The first twenty-four projects supported through the initiative, announced earlier this year, covered a range of exciting high quality cultural offerings across, dance, visual arts, music and theatre genres.

A recent project supported through the fund, The City of Derry International Choral Festival, was held in October 2014, attracting 70 high quality choirs to the city for a number of music events over five days.

Another project is the WoW Festival (Women of the World Festival), taking place next month on 7-9 November, organised by the North West Women’s Collective, in association with the WoW at Southbank Centre, London.  This will be the second time the festival has been organised in Derry with the first festival held during the UK City of Culture year. 

Roísín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: ‘The projects funded through the Derry Legacy Fund encourage the citizens of Derry-Londonderry to participate in arts and culture. In particular, it encourages those from harder to reach communities to enjoy the benefits that the arts bring. The fund promotes community engagement, challenges social exclusion and attracts visitors to the city, and I look forward to welcoming the next series of projects in 2015.’ 

Mayor Cllr Brenda Stevenson said: ‘I am delighted that the first tranche of projects have now been assessed and there are twenty four projects which will contribute strongly to the exciting and vibrant arts and cultural sector in our city. This fund demonstrates excellent partnership working between the city and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and now also our delivery partners. We are all committed to achieving a lasting legacy for our people.’

Around £610,000 has already been awarded through the Derry Legacy Fund to support the first collection of successful projects. Applications will close on 15th January and details of the successful applicants will be announced in spring 2015.

Arts Council NI article

further info and to apply

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Façade retention-v-demolition in Liverpool

A Grade II listed former rice mill in Liverpool is to be incorporated into a luxury flat development, with façade retention being approved after demolition was refused by the City Council and objected to by local residents and amenity societies.

Planning Portal writes:
The developer submitted revised plans to the council last month, incorporating the protected mill and reducing the heights of the proposed buildings. The revised scheme proposes a total of 781 new apartments in six buildings.

The mill building, which will include a two-storey roof extension under the plans, will house 123 of the new flats.

The Liverpool Echo writes:
‘Initially, developers planned to demolish the mill – a move which sparked outcry from heritage campaigners, who convinced the Government to give it listed building status. Now that it cannot be demolished, the building’s historic façade will be incorporated into the final scheme… Campaigners had also argued that as much of the building’s interior should be kept intact as possible…. Merseyside Civic Society, which led calls for the mill to be listed… decided there were inadequate grounds to raise an objection to the scheme overall, when it guaranteed a future for the mill…’

IHBC newsblogs on façade retention and historic buildings 

Search Planning Portal

View the full news article in the Liverpool Echo online, including images of the mill

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Pickles backs CHP project despite G1 LB harm

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has agreed with the recommendations of a planning inspector and allowed on appeal a biomass fuelled combined heat and power plant for an animal rendering factory located on the edge of Low Marnham village near Newark originally refused by Bassetlaw District Council and despite the ‘less than substantial harm’ to listed buildings including Grade 1 Listed St Wilfred’s Church.

Pickles’ decision letter acknowledged that the scheme breached local policies designed to safeguard landscape character and would result in less than substantial harm to listed buildings including Grade 1 Listed St Wilfred’s Church.

However, the Secretary of State concluded that the benefits of the project – ‘a valuable if modest contribution to the delivery of the Government’s climate change programme and energy policies’ – outweighed its disadvantages.

Access the decision letter on the UK Gov website

Search Planning Portal

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Scottish regeneration & funding announcements

The Scottish Government has offered progress updates on regenerating Scotland’s town centres in a report on the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Action Plan.

The Scottish Government writes:
Progress on regenerating Scotland’s town centres has been outlined in a report on the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Action Plan.

The Town Centre Action Plan – One Year On report has been published ahead of a Parliamentary debate that will be led by Local Government and Planning Minister Derek Mackay today.

The report highlights a range of milestones that have been reached as part of the Action Plan, including:

  • Agreement between the Scottish Cabinet and COSLA on the Town Centre First Principle, where Government, public bodies, businesses and communities put the health of town centres at the heart of decision-making
  • An expansion of the Fresh Start business rates relief scheme to pubs, hotels and restaurants
  • Record numbers of business properties in Scotland benefiting from an extension of the Small Business Bonus Scheme, with 96,265 properties paying zero or reduced business rates in 2014-15, an increase of almost 4,000 properties since last year.
  • Growth in the number of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) helping to support economic growth in town centres. There are currently 27 BIDs, with ballots on a further eight expected before April 2015.
  • Recognition of the role of town centres in the new National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy
  • A share of £2.75 million in funding awarded to seven projects under the Town Centre Housing Fund, creating 82 units for affordable housing
  • A £186,000 grant to strengthen the role of the Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) as the ‘go-to’ body for advice on town centre development

Publication of the report coincides with an announcement of close to £300,000 in funding towards two initiatives intended to support town centre regeneration.

The first is a programme of town centre planning pilots, which will see the Government provide nine local authorities with a share of £119,000 over two years to fund pilot schemes under the proactive planning theme.  The other will see a grant of approximately £160,000 provided to the Scottish Business in the Community (SBC) to set up Business Hubs in four local authorities, including Angus, Ayrshire, Borders and Moray. The hubs would engage with businesses of all sizes and encourage them to work together to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of their town centres.

Welcoming publication of the Town Centre Action Plan – One Year On, report Mr Mackay said: ‘The Scottish Government is determined that our town centres should be vibrant, attractive and safe places where local people and visitors alike want to spend their time and money.  This goes beyond simply considering how to attract businesses and support local economies, but ensuring that we diversify town centres to support their place at the core of community life, offering spaces to meet and interact with access to facilities and services that people require.’

‘The Town Centre Action Plan is our response to this vision, and this report highlights a number of significant milestones that have been reached since its launch, including agreement between the Government and COSLA on the Town Centre First Principle.  The progress that we have made in the past year is testament to the commitment of all concerned in revitalising our town centres, and as part of this commitment I am delighted to announce close to £300,000 in funding towards projects aimed at achieving this aim.

‘Initiatives such as these, delivered at a local level, exemplify the kind of actions that we are taking for the benefit of local communities, and I look forward to continuing our work in regenerating town centres across Scotland.’

Malcolm Fraser, Chair of the Town Centre Review External Advisory Group, said: ‘It’s a fine thing to see the Scottish Government delivering, and good they understand that revitalising Scotland’s town centres is an ongoing process.  It’s even better to recognise how many local authorities, community groups and individuals see how their own town centres are central to the wealth, sustainability and democratic accessibility of their whole community, and are taking advantage of the opportunities presented through the Town Centre Action Plan.’

Leigh Sparks, Chair of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said: ‘This report shows clearly the increasing depth of commitment and alignment of policies and actions to support one of the key features of Scotland – its towns and town centres.  Across Scotland there is evidence of strong engagement to revitalise and re-imagine our town centres, and Scotland’s Towns Partnership is hugely encouraged by the significant and extensive progress on key issues to date.  We will be working hard to maximise the potential for enhanced activity across as many communities as possible in the coming year.’

IHBC newsblogs on regeneration

Scottish Government press release

Download the report

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