Scotland’s £3m ‘Strengthening Communities’ Programme

A new £3m fund to support community groups and organisations has been launched this month by the Scottish Government and partners, aimed at support emerging community groups. 

The Scottish Government writes:
The funding will support emerging community groups and provide direct investment to community organisations to increase their capacity in order to make them more sustainable while empowering local people through community ownership.

Initiatives will respond to local community needs by developing activities such as advocacy projects, community windfarms, environmental action and transferring assets into community ownership.

Scottish Government news

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New chair of CABE appointed

Pam Alexander has been appointed chair of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) to succeed Paul Finch.

Planning Resource report

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IHBC member survey: 273 respondees, 1 award and infinite possibilities

The IHBC’s Council, through IHBC President Trefor Thorpe, has thanked the many members who contributed to the recent ‘member and user’ survey, highlighting the positive messages it carries as well as the nature of the work to be done by the IHBC to make sure we offer a proper home for the full spectrum of skills that deliver conservation.

IHBC President Trefor Thorpe said: ‘When I reported to our Council on the survey yesterday we were all most impressed at the scale of the response.  Even more valuable was the wide interest in the IHBC extending our corporate reach much more widely, beyond Branches, historic disciplines, and even historic boundaries.’

‘Overall, as anyone reading will see, there has been an enthusiastic endorsement of where we are in our evolution.  But, as Council, we are charged with looking to our future, not resting on our laurels, so we’re going to come back to members over the coming months with suggestions that will try to address the challenges raised here.’

‘Council should receive some firm recommendations at its next sitting in September, hopefully following some more discussion around our AGM and School in Edinburgh in June.  So if you can come to that too, and join in those discussions, all the better!’

‘In the interim, do take a look through the report and see if there’s any further thoughts that spring to mind as I’m always happy to hear new ideas, alternative approaches and indeed any suggestions about how we can all do our job better.’

‘I can also announce that the £50 award for doing the survey will go to Dr James Campbell, architect, architectural historian and lecturer at the University of Cambridge, and evidently the sort of multi-skilled practitioner that will underpin the IHBC’s future.’

Download the report HERE

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IHBC welcomes Farrell Review for place of conservation skills in ‘PLACE’, and says ‘We’re here to help!’

The IHBC has warmly welcomed the publication of the Farrell Review report, ‘Our future in place’, especially for the fundamental role it offers conservation, and conservation skills, in its key recommendation for ‘PLACE’ reviews, with ‘the acronym PLACE, based on the core skill sets of Planning, Landscape, Architecture, Conservation and Engineering.’ 

IHBC Chair Mike Brown said: ‘It is very significant to see a review by a board with this development-led remit and construction-focussed skills-sets highlighting just how central conservation is to place management and design in our places.  There is a lot for thought and discussion here, and the IHBC will feed back accordingly.  But for now we can welcome the high recognition it gives to both conservation and, inter alia, to conservation skills.’

‘We are also delighted that the Review team have picked up on the need for VAT relief to support the diverse UK industries responsible for looking after and maintaining our existing buildings and places.  We would want the review to think more widely than the ‘VAT on retrofit’ relief strategy they recommend.  But it’s another huge endorsement of the IHBC’s efforts to reduce the VAT drag that holds back growth in the sectors that care for our places, to subsidise newbuild of the most variable quality.’

‘Hopefully government will pick up on some of the opportunities outlined here and set about proactively helping our valued and historic buildings and places, their conservation, and the many skilled professionals that care for them.’

‘Ed Vaizey describes the report as the ‘beginning of a dialogue’.  The IHBC has been contributing to that dialogue long before the report started, and we’re still here to help now that it’s entering a new, and hopefully more positive, stage.’

IHBC Policy Chair David Kincaid said: ‘There are many strengths to the report but it is disappointing that the evident lack of conservation knowledge around the top table has been allowed to impact on the credibility of some of the suggestions.’

‘Some very simple errors do stand out, such as the fact that they do not appear to have registered the place of undesignated heritage assets in the NPPF, while their confusion over responsibilities for local listing is especially concerning.  More disconcerting is the omission of the IHBC as the professional body for built environment conservation specialists in their ‘PLACE’ agenda.   That omission damages the report’s appearance, especially as they have been charged also with considering the matter of skills.’

‘Also, as is often the case with such reviews there are a lot of good recommendations that are, in practice, also difficult to implement.  Many recommendations will take a lot of time and effort to establish and can easily be dropped or changed by a new government, as we saw with the demise of CABE and the cancellation of By Design. A long-term commitment, and funding, is required from government to ensure that the report is implemented and not just placed on the shelf.’

Planning Portal writes:
The review also calls for cross-discipline PLACE reviews of existing places like high streets and housing estates and of infrastructure projects like road, rail and aviation improvements – the acronym PLACE incorporating the key disciplines of planning, landscape, architecture, conservation and engineering.

The review says the Government should appoint a chief architect and recommends that planning authorities should use planning fees to attract more design-literate staff.

It also says every council should have ‘Civic Champions’ who would champion local design quality. Every town and city would also have an ‘urban room’ where the public could go and understand the past, present and future of their locality.

Other recommendations include a shake-out of the policy on heritage assets and listing and the widening of expertise on Design Review panels to ensure all the key disciplines are represented: planning, landscape, architecture, conservation and engineering.

‘The issues covered by this review are not of academic or specialist interest,’ said Sir Terry Farrell. ‘They are relevant to some of the most pressing and important issues of our time like the shortage and affordability of housing; the urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions and the flooding crisis that recently afflicted so much of the country. Through proactive, rather than reactive, planning we can tackle these problems.’

Search Planning Portal

See the background

Download the review

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IHBC welcomes new Apprenticeship Commission at CITB

The IHBC has welcomed the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) announcement of the setting up of a new apprenticeship commission to help deliver a new strategy for construction apprentices, attempting to address issues of the age profile in construction and attractiveness of the career to young people. 

IHBC Director Sean O’Reilly said: ‘This is an important initiative to help careers, capacity and standards across the industry.  We do hope that heritage issues and challenges will be fully embedded in all of the initiatives this new commission initiates and inspires.’

‘Repair and maintenance areas are already a key part of the mainstream construction sector, and that will only increase as future apprentices grow into fully skilled workers.  Traditional and historic buildings represent such a huge proportion of the industry that it would be a disaster if these, and related conservation matters, do not get special consideration by the new commission’.

The CITB writes:
The commission will make recommendations on ways the industry can significantly increase the number of apprentices in the system while maintaining the ‘gold standard’ training valued by the firms employing them.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of yesterday’s Budget Statement by the Chancellor, George Osborne MP, where Government have pledged an additional £170 million for small businesses to support over 100,000 new apprenticeship places in the next two years.

James Wates, Chairman of CITB said: ‘We face a perfect storm. Construction is set to lose 400,000 workers to retirement in the next five years and, over the same period; we are set to create 182,000 jobs.

‘With the economy picking up, we have a superb opportunity to appeal to a new generation of construction workers and to train them for a rewarding career in construction.

‘During the course of the recession, the needs of employers have changed, and so too have the industry’s. To compete globally, we need to ensure that our apprentices are skilled and trained to their full potential.

‘It’s the right time to deliver a new Apprenticeship Strategy for Construction. It will drive greater employer commitment to apprenticeships and ensure that we provide solutions to Government to help get Britain’s young people back to work.’

The Apprenticeship Commission will develop an Apprenticeship Strategy by the end of the year. High profile commissioners are currently being approached to lead this important industry strategy and will be announced shortly.

CITB news 

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Labour pledges to put locals at the heart of housing planning

Shadow local government secretary Hilary Benn has suggested that local residents could be given ‘first call’ on purchasing new homes in developments in their areas as part of emerging Labour proposals to encourage communities to accept housing growth 

The guardian article

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Letter to Chief Planning Officers in England

A letter to Chief Planning officers in England highlights recent issues including the budget announcements affecting planning, planning statistics and planning guidance review including changes to listed building consent and village green designations. 

With regard to the recent Budget the letter notes:
‘The measures to promote custom build have the potential to increase the capacity and diversity of the house building industry and support the growing number of people who want to build their own home. A key constraint is the difficulty many custom builders experience in finding a suitable plot. The measures included in the Budget are designed to address this challenge:

  • We will consult on a new ‘Right to Build’ which would give custom builders a right to a plot from councils. This proposal recognises the significant role that councils can – and in some cases already are – playing in securing land for custom build. Land for plots could come from local authorities’ own landholdings or other land, with councils playing a facilitating role.
  • We will seek to identify a number of councils to act as vanguards to test how the Right to Build model could work in practice.
  • We will also create a new £150m fund to provide loans to support the delivery of up-to 10,000 serviced plots for custom builders. 

Access the DCLG letter

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New report on reinventing the high street

A new report issued by Deloitte highlights high street town centre activities in the UK and points towards the relative resilience of the high street in re-occupying vacant shop units. 

The executive summary presents a variety of issues as of concern UK wide:

  • Oversupply
  • Affordability
  • Being fit for purpose
  • Change of focus
  • Change of behaviour
  • Impact of digital commerce

The suggested ‘recipe for success’ for High Streets is:

  • Convenience
  • Experience
  • Omni channel (digital and physical)

Access the full report here

BBC news on the Deloitte report

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Historic Scotland awards £1.9m for historic building repairs

Historic Scotland Awards

courtesy of Russell Paisley

Six landmark buildings from all corners of Scotland have been awarded a share of £1.9 million of funding by Historic Scotland.

Historic Scotland writes:
A derelict Peterhead warehouse being brought back into use for social housing and an iconic Glasgow clock tower to be spruced up in time for Glasgow 2014 are among the latest recipients of Historic Scotland’s Building Repair Grants.

These buildings are among six across Scotland that will share almost £1.9 million of funding announced today (20 March 2014) by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs.

In Peterhead, the former Caley Fisheries Building will receive a £250,000 grant which will see the B-listed early 19th century warehouse converted from its derelict state into a mix of social housing and commercial use.

The landmark Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow has been awarded £98,672 from the Building Repair Grant scheme. The funding will support essential masonry maintenance of the gallery’s clock tower. This conservation work on the iconic A-listed structure will be carried out ahead of the Commonwealth Games coming to the city this summer.

Inverness’s Town House has been awarded £500,000 towards a project to secure the building’s long term future ensuring it remains a vital community facility. The funding will be used to carry out essential repairs and reinstatement to the historic fabric of the city centre building which will address some of the 20th century alterations to the A-listed building.

The art deco Castlebrae Business Centre in Edinburgh is to receive £500,000 towards a major refurbishment of the 1930s school building to limit the ongoing decay of the historic exterior fabric. The building’s owners also intend to carry out considerable internal alterations to make the building more suitable for business use and encourage local business start-ups.These internal alternations will also conserve the existing historic interior features.

Aberdeen’s 19th century Tivoli Theatre which is undergoing major restoration work has secured £47,723. This will help fund conservation and strengthen of many of the internal features including the ornate plasterwork and frescos as well as a rare wooden fly floor used in theatrical productions. The A-listed theatre will become a multi-use venue on completion of the restoration.

The Russell Institute, regarded as one of Paisley’s finest buildings will receive £500,000 to support a repair and redevelopment of the building to make it more suitable as a modern workplace and secure its long term use. The Institute, which was built in 1925-6 by Agnes Russell as a memorial to her two brothers and operated as a child welfare clinic, will once again become an integral part of the town centre.

Fiona Hyslop said: ‘I am pleased to announce this latest round of funding which will deliver considerable improvements to several of Scotland’s important historic buildings. I am particularly pleased that this investment will see buildings that currently lie derelict or unused given a now lease of life and play an active role again in the communities in which they are located.

‘Scotland’s historic environment is so valuable to all parts of the country with its social, cultural and economic benefits impacting on every community. This investment demonstrates our continued commitment to supporting our historic buildings so they can be enjoyed now and in the future.’

Historic Scotland’s Building Repair Grant scheme makes financial help available to property owners to meet the cost of high-quality repairs using traditional materials and specialist craftsman to conserve original features in buildings of special architectural or historic interest. In return, owners must maintain the building and allow some access to visitors.

Historic Scotland news

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First ever Marine Plans launched in England

The first marine plans have been launched in England, guiding sustainable development in coastal regions, with East Inshore and East Offshore covering a wide area of Eastern England coast. 

The Marine Management Organisation writes:
England’s first ever plans for the future of our seas have been published today (2 April 2014).  The marine plans which provide much-needed guidance for sustainable development in English waters – cover the coast and seas from Flamborough Head to Felixstowe.

They have been developed by the Marine Management Organisation on behalf of the Secretary of State Owen Paterson, who has formally approved the plans.

An interactive tool explaining how marine plans affect your area also goes live today (2 April) – the Marine Information System.

Marine plans will inform and guide decisions on development in marine and coastal areas, while conserving and enhancing the environment and recognising leisure uses too.

This should reduce costs and increase certainty for developers, boosting economic and employment benefits for coastal communities and beyond.

The first two plans cover the East inshore and offshore areas, with a total of 11 plans covering all English waters anticipated by 2021.Our seas have become increasingly busy, with industries such as oil and gas, wind farms, shipping, aggregates and fishing competing for space with each other and with nature. The marine economy is currently worth more than £49 billion a year and has the potential to grow significantly.

Environment Minister George Eustice said ‘UK seas are home to one of the richest marine environments in the world and are currently worth more than £49 billion a year to our economy.

‘We are making sure that environmental considerations are embedded in every decision about proposed developments along the coast from Flamborough Head to Felixstowe and in our seas out to the maritime borders with the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

‘By 2021, marine plans will cover the entire English marine area, supporting an estimated £50 million of economic benefit each year and helping to promote sustainable development of the marine area.’

MMO Chief Executive James Cross added ‘These plans are the culmination of years of work by government, industry, environmental organisations and many others.

‘We are delighted to be at the forefront of sustainable marine development, cutting red tape for developers while taking full account of social and environmental impacts.’

The UK has one of the richest marine environments in the world, with more than 8,000 species recorded in our seas.

Plans will take full account of marine protected areas, recognising the wealth of species and habitats in our seas.

Marine Information System

IHBC newsblog on marine planning

Marine Management Planning

Marine Management news

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Heritage graffiti project inspires young offenders

CADW is implementing a new project which aims to help young people learn about heritage through archaeological objects, working with young prisoners to create graffiti murals reflecting the history of Wales.

CADW writes
Cadw is leading a Heritage Grafitti Project in conjunction with Parc Prison, run by G4S Care and Justice Services, which aims to contribute towards the rehabilitation of young offenders by helping them learn valuable lessons from their heritage. By introducing young offenders to archaeological artefacts and explaining what they meant to the people who used them, Cadw enables young offenders to explore themes of identity and community.

The young prisoners involved were tasked to tell the story of Welsh heritage using archaeological artefacts as a starting point for inspiration. Archaeology and painting workshops were led by Cadw with professional support so participants could explore the concept of heritage and its relevance to modern society, and a professional graffiti artist worked with the group to creatively express their stories in a vibrant graffiti mural.

The mural is on display within the prison, painted directly on to the walls of one of the exercise yards.

John Griffiths said: ‘This project aims to help the young people involved relate to the places they come from, and to appreciate the things that make these places special.

‘Graffiti art is familiar to many of these individuals, and this project allows them to learn about their shared past and express their heritage in a modern way.

‘Additionally by recording and documenting their work through photography and film the participants gain technical and transferrable skills. This will increase their prospects of finding a job when they are released.’

Laurence Bater, Creative Arts Curriculum Manager from Parc Prison/G4S added: ‘The philosophy of Parc Prison is to rehabilitate offenders and equip them to re-integrate into mainstream society on release, and this project is a great way for the participants to gain valuable skills, whilst at the same time providing an opportunity to participate in a fun and engaging activity and learn about Welsh heritage. ‘

The Heritage Graffiti project was initially piloted as part of Welsh Government’s ‘Changing Cultures’ initiative in March 2013.

The aims and objectives of ‘Changing Cultures’ address the provision of life chances and opportunities for children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate in stimulating and educational activities. These activities seek to create positive benefits for children through accessing cultural experiences.

Heritage Grafitti project video

Cadw news

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Big Society award for pub diversification: ‘Pub Is The Hub’

A scheme which helps pubs diversify to provide services which local communities require has won the Prime Minister’s Big Society award.

DCLG writes:
Pub Is The Hub a ground breaking organisation that supports country pubs to provide community services such as shops, book clubs and even cinemas, was announced as the latest winner of the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award by Community Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis MP at last night’s Publican Awards at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.

The not for profit Pub is The Hub was initiated in 2001 by HRH The Prince of Wales and helps pubs in rural communities to stay at the heart of village life by providing additional sought after services. The organisation has worked with over 400 pubs across England and Wales including the Prince of Wales in Bridgend, which operates a heritage and history centre; the Black Swan Inn, Ravenstonedale in Cumbria where they provide freshly cooked school meals for the local primary school and the Cholmeley Arms in Burton Coggles near Grantham which hosts a butcher’s in an adjoining building.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: ‘From a lunch club for older people in Grasby, to a cinema in Purleigh – this initiative is helping village pubs find innovative ways to maintain their place in the centre of so many communities.’

‘With the energy and passion of landlords and licensees up and down the country, Pub is The Hub is going from strength to strength and I’m delighted to recognise everyone involved with this Big Society Award.’

John Longden, Chief Executive of Pub is The Hub, said: ‘This award is fabulous recognition for all the hard-working licensees running pubs in their communities who work tirelessly in providing additional services where they have disappeared. At Pub is The Hub we have a great team of, largely voluntary, people who help to promote social action, encourage consultation and offer support and advice to widen the appeal of the pub. They too will be thrilled with this award.’

Pub Is The Hub website

Video case studies from Pub Is The Hub 

Pub Is The Hub National Map

UK Gov news

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Closure of Hadrian’s Wall Trust announced

Loss of finance due to changes in the funding framework has been highlighted as the reason for the announcement of the closure of the Hadrian’s Wall Trust within six months.

Statement from Hadrians Wall Trust Trustees

Culture 24 article on the trust announcement

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Launch of Cultural Programme for Commemoration of WW1

The UK wide programme of cultural projects marking the centenary of World War One (WW1) was formally launched this week, with a call for people throughout the UK to get involved.

DCMS writes:
In a speech this morning on board the HMS President, Maria Miller welcomed the launch of a major cultural programme that will take place across the United Kingdom, marking the centenary of the First World War.

Leading the programme ‘14-18 Now’ will work with other organisations across the UK to commission large scale cultural projects. These projects will encourage people from every community to reflect on how the First World War has shaped life today.

The programme begins with events marking the anniversary of the declaration of war on 4 August:

  • The Day will begin with a national service commemoration at Glasgow Cathedral, focussing on the Commonwealth contribution to the war
  • At dusk there will be a beautiful event focused on the theme of reconciliation at St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Belgium.
  • At 11pm to mark the moment war was declared Westminster Abbey will lead a national candlelit Vigil inpsiring communities up and down Great Britain to turn off their lights – with the exception of a single light source symbolising the light of hope and resilience which saw the country through the ensuing 4 years

On platform 1 of London’s Paddington Station stands a statue of an unknown soldier reading a letter. 14-18 NOW is inviting in the country to write that letter, and all the letters that the soldier receives will be published on the 14-18 NOW website.

Welcoming the programme, Maria Miller said: ‘The First World War itself produced and inspired art, much of which lives on to this day. This newly commissioned work over the next 4 years will complement what has gone before and help all of us, old and especially young, to pause for a moment in remembrance of those 4 years a century ago.’

14-18 Now website

DCMS press release from WW1 Cultural Programme launch

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Former Selfridges Hotel in London converted into a temporary skatepark

The Orchard Street hotel has been temporarily transformed into the UK’s largest skatepark, with the design taking inspiration from items from the iconic Selfridges history and London landmarks.  It is open to the public until 19 April.

Selfridges news releases on the pop up space

What’s in


Dezeen magazine reports on the space

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