Ministerial support: heritage harm ‘less than substantial’

A £500m energy-from-waste project earmarked by Urbaser Balfour Beatty for land at Javelin Park near Haresfield, Gloucestershire, has been approved by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles after a recovered appeal.

His decision was in line with the recommendation of the planning inspector who considered the case.

The county council’s planning committee had refused the scheme against the advice of officers and even though the council had decided in principle to enter into a contract with the consortium to deal with the county’s waste.

Opponents had highlighted the visual impact of the facility at a location close to the edge of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

However, the minister concluded that the project, which would generate over 17 megawatts of power as well as heat, had substantial public benefits which were not outweighed by ‘less than substantial harm to the settings and significance o the two heritage assets [in the vicinity] ‘.

Download the decision letter

Search Planning Portal

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Minister backs Cheshire homes refusal: ‘slight adverse harm’

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has dismissed an appeal that would have allowed up to 35 homes to be built near the village of Malpas in Cheshire, in an area for which a neighbourhood plan proposal had been submitted to Cheshire West & Chester Council, for reasons that include ‘the significant harm to landscape character, significant adverse visual impact and slight adverse harm to heritage assets.’

The planning authority had refused outline permission for the scheme. Its emerging local plan demonstrated a five-year supply of housing sites including significant activity around Malpas.

Dismissing the recovered appeal as recommended by the inspector, the Secretary of State concluded ‘the benefits of this particular scheme in terms of new housing, including affordable housing, and associated economic benefits are insufficient to outweigh the significant harm to landscape character, significant adverse visual impact and slight adverse harm to heritage assets’.

Download the decision letter

Search Planning Portal

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Councils spend £5bn ‘re-hiring staff’

Councils are spending up to £5bn to rehire staff they have previously made redundant, a new investigation has revealed.

LocalGov writes:
The Freedom of Information request, carried out by The Times, discovered many staff who had received large pay-offs were returning as interims or consultants, earning up to £1,000 a day.

The figures also show that five councils spent more than £100m on agency and consultancy workers since 2010-11.

Birmingham City Council topped the list compiled by The Times, spending £155m since 2010-11. topped the list. Essex County Council spent £133.5m, followed by Kent County Council who spent £127m.

Birmingham City Council hit back at the link between its spending on agency staff and the number of people re-hired following redundantcy. It said no staff who earnt more than £70,000 had been re-hired by the council in the past 12 months.

A council spokesperson said: ‘We use agency staff for short term periods where there is insufficient capacity or expertise within the council’s own workforce. This can be for a range of reasons including specialist one-off technical projects or to ensure that vital front-line services such as social care, can continue to be delivered to citizens, during spells of sickness.

‘Such staff can also be used when services are being remodelled and in an interim state – which has been increasingly the case since central government cuts began having an impact on the council.’

UK Local Gov article

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Wales’ roof repair fund deadline looms: 30 January!

The Wales Office has issued advice for church properties in Wales, urging them to apply for the Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund which closes on 30 January.

The Wales Office writes:
These grants will help ensure that these historic buildings can remain open for commemoration, services and other community functions and events. There is only one opportunity to apply and the closing date for applications is on Friday 30 January 2015.

These grants have been made possible through the UK government funded Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund. It was set up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Autumn Statement and administered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF).

Grants are available from £10,000 to £100,000 to help meet the costs of urgent repairs to roofs, such as coverings and ceilings. It can also be used to improve rainwater disposal systems such as gutters, gullies, drains.

Wales Office Minister Baroness Randerson said: ‘During winter months, the harsh weather can have a devastating impact on our historical buildings such as places of worship.  These buildings represent the culture and history of our nation and are at the heart of communities across Wales.

I hope that places of worship across Wales seize this one off opportunity’

more details… 

Apply for funding through the scheme

IHBC newsblogs on funding

More awards and opportunities at IHBC Awards etc

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Call for entries: Building whole-life performance fund

A new Research and development fund aiming to ‘maximise the long-term economic, societal and environmental contribution of buildings, by improving their whole-life performance’ has been launched, officially opening in February with a deadline for applications of 1 April. 

Innovate UK writes:
Innovate UK is investing up to £4 million in collaborative R&D projects that can lead to better whole-life performance of buildings.

The aim is to maximise the long-term contribution of buildings to the economy, society and the environment. This is in line with Construction 2025, the joint strategy by government and industry for the future of UK construction.

If you are working in construction or any other sector your business could win grant funding to develop products, processes and services through this competition. Proposals must be collaborative and led by a business. We expect total project costs to range from £150,000 to £800,000.

This is a two-stage competition that opens for applicants on 23 February 2015. The deadline for registration is at noon on 1 April 2015.

There will be a briefing for potential applicants during the Resource event at ExCel, London, on 4 March 2015.

This competition is co-funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Innovate UK news release 

More information about the funds and how to apply 

Information on the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

IHBC newsblogs on funding 

IHBC newsblogs on construction 

More awards and opportunities at IHBC Awards etc

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Green Deal Assessment Mystery Shopping Research

New research has been published into customers’ experience of having a Green Deal assessment, examining the accuracy and potential variability in the Green Deal assessment of properties by different assessors. 

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) writes:
The DECC commissioned ICF International to carry out research to determine whether there is variation in the conduct of Green Deal assessments, to identify the possible sources of such variations and examine the implications of variations on assessment outputs.

This study forms part of the evaluation of the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) programme.

The study entailed a mystery shopping research exercise in which 48 recruited mystery shoppers booked and had multiple Green Deal assessments and their experiences analysed. The study team also examined variations in the inputs and outputs leading to recommendations of these assessments for 29 of the properties to identify the possible sources of such variations.

The research was conducted between February and April 2014. 

See the research

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Have your Say: Heritage Counts Evaluation: 30 January

EH are seeking your help with an evaluation of the heritage counts 2014 reports, with a short anonymous survey with a deadline of 30 January.

Take the survey

IHBC newsblogs on heritage counts

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Call for Evidence- RIBA Design Quality & Performance Study

The RIBA are seeking your help with mapping issues relating to design quality and performance, with a closing date for this round of research of 31 January.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) writes:
By collating and disseminating case studies about excellent buildings and places the RIBA will create an important resource for architects and other built environment professionals, as well as for clients.

We are keen to hear about projects with proven design quality and performance, especially, but not limited to, offices, schools and housing. The public database of case studies will be hosted on, but we are also happy to receive confidential case studies

If you can help RIBA with information which is relevant to this field, contact with the subject ‘Design quality and performance call for evidence’.

Find out more about the call for evidence and topics at

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IHBC’s 2014 Conservation Quiz: Celebrate your success

If you want to know how did you do in the IHBC’s quiz (see the IHBC NewsBlog Archive) you can now check your answers and, hopefully, congratulate yourself and celebrate!

For Answers click on the urls

1       Health and the built environment:

2       To celebrate WWF Earth Hour:

3       UK City of Media Arts:

4       Brighton:

5       Tatton Park, Cheshire:

6       The construction of Stonehenge:

7       Brighton West:

8       Ebbsfleet, Kent:

9       Museums at Night:

10     The Guildhall in Londonderry:

11     Strangford Lough and Lecale:

12     Buddhist architecture:

13     English Heritage, Maldon District Council and the Trustees of Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome:

14     DoENI:

15     Amberfield:

16     Newcastle City:

17     Conservation covenants:

18     PLACE = Planning, Landscape, Architecture, Conservation and Engineering:

19     A legal challenge over English Heritage’s decision not to register a site near York on the Battlefield Register:

20     Seven (Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle Upon Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland):

21     East Inshore and East Offshore – Eastern England coast:

22     Buildings at Risk toolkit:

23     60%:

24     BS7913 Guide to the conservation of historic buildings:

25     The Art of Conservation:

26     Edinburgh (with an Orkney addition):

27     Learning, Education, Training & Standards’ (LETS) Liaison Officer:

28     Associate:

29     The Gus Astley Student Award:

30     HESPR (Historic Environment Service Providers’ Recognition scheme):

31     Expansion into Caves:

32     Jersey airport:

33     Hafod y Llan farm, Snowdonia:

34     CADW:

35     Britain’s largest indoor skatepark:

36     The Glasgow School of Art:

37     888,246  – one for each British and Commonwealth fatality during the First World War:

38     Audley End House:

39     Ulster Architectural Heritage Society:

40     Use contracts for construction works:

41     ‘Giving to Heritage’ scheme:

42     Birmingham City University:

43     School of Heritage Gardening:

44     Skills for the Future programme:

45     Skillbuild:

46     Princes Regeneration Trust:

47     20 years:

48     LEADER:

49     Crowdfunding:

50     NESTA:

Newsblog quiz questions

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New measures simplify setting up of Town/ Parish Councils

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced a series of measures which are designed to simplify the process for setting up a new town or parish council, with the aim of allowing local people to have a greater say over their community affairs.

DCLG writes:
Communities Minister Stephen Williams today (8 January 2015) set out new measures that will remove the bureaucratic burdens faced by community groups wanting to set up a town or parish council and give local people a greater say over what goes on in their neighbourhood.

Town and parish councils allow communities to take control of local assets, deliver local services and influence decision-making and priorities. The government wants the experience of creating a town and parish council to become easier for those local communities that believe they would benefit from them.  Over the last 3 years, the government has engaged interested parties both informally and through formal public consultation. The feedback gathered finds that the existing legislation can be burdensome and often discourages local campaigners.  To help cut this unnecessary bureaucracy the government has formulated 3 new measures that will cut red tape, improve the legislative process and help town and parish councils to play a stronger role in the delivery of local services.  These are:

  • lowering the threshold of signatures required to trigger a review of governance from 10% to 7.5 % of residents
  • speeding up the process and creating greater certainty for local campaigners by shortening the amount of time the local authority can take to complete a governance review to 12 months from receipt of a valid petition
  • allowing neighbourhood forums to trigger a community governance review for a new parish council without requiring them to submit a petition

Communities Minister Stephen Williams said: ‘We want more people to have the opportunity to take control and have a greater say over what goes on in their neighbourhood.  Parish and town councils have a crucial role to play, having both a democratically accountable voice and a structure for taking community action.  However, the current obligations can stifle local campaigns and constrain local democracy.  That is why we are changing the rules and helping campaigners by making it much easier to set them up so they can get on and start making a difference for their local communities.’

Cllr Ken Browse, chairman of NALC (National Association of Local Councils), said: Local (parish and town) councils are popular with people and can really make a difference, and for too long communities have battled with burdensome bureaucracy to get them created. The proposals to remove red tape, simplify and streamline the current process is a common sense move.  We welcome the continued impetus on the creation of more new local councils to deliver services to local communities and give them a voice.

The government’s measures are a step in the right direction to help people and communities create these most local of democratically accountable councils. Now communities can get on with delivering grassroots level services and representation by taking local action.  Today the government published its response to the consultation on a proposal to use a legislative reform order for making it easier to set up a town and parish council.

The legislative reform order has been laid in parliament and we expect that these new rights will come into force within the next 12 months.  The government is committed to empowering local governance as close as possible to local to communities.  The Localism Act 2011 gives parish councils a range of powers to help address the problems they want to address and many are now taking control and having a greater say over what goes where in the neighbourhood.  There is huge potential for more parishes to make use of community rights and from our survey of parishes over the summer, it was clear that there have been significant increases on last year in the numbers engaged in neighbourhood planning, taking control of much-loved local assets and taking on services from local authorities.

News release and links to the relevant legislation 

IHBC newsblogs on localism

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Homes scheme for Salisbury WWW1 airfield

Proposals to build 470 homes on a First World War airfield in Wiltshire have been put on show to the public.

Planning Portal writes:
Old Sarum Airfield, one of three in England that has been in continuous use as a grass flying field since construction in the First World War, is the only one currently in civilian use and open to the public.

The site, north east of the city of Salisbury, is a conservation area and the airfield has three of the four original hangars still standing, all of which are Grade II* listed.

The owners claim the proposals, called Sarum Landings, are designed to create a sustainable future for the airfield and finance new aviation facilities.

Search Planning Portal 

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Turbines refused due to impact on SAM

An appeal against the refusal of two wind turbines at Norham in Northumberland has been dismissed by the Inspector, citing harm to the setting of the Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) of Duddo stone circle as part of the reason for refusal.

Points of particular note highlighted within the decision notice posted by the EH Legal Twitter account include:

  • The proposed turbines, although of a modest scale would nevertheless be a stand out feature when seen from the SAM (para 11)
  • The proposal would cause harm to the significance of a heritage asset of considerable importance by introducing an incongruous development within its setting (para 19)

Full decision notice and original Twitter post

For information on a further three onshore turbine proposals refused this week, search Planning Portal

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New guide: developers, utilities and planning

A new guide has been published by DCLG setting out the expected responsibilities of the developer and the utilities provider at project scoping, planning permission, implementation and post implementation stages. 

Download the guide

IHBC newsblogs on housing

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Call for entries: Supply chain integration in construction

A new research and development fund aiming to encourage collaboration among those in the building supply chain has been launched, officially opening in February with a deadline for registration of applications set for midday on 15 April.

Innovate UK writes:
Lack of integration in the construction industry supply chain is leading to lost innovation opportunities. If your business has ideas that will encourage the creation of more integrated, collaborative supply chains in the construction industry, you could win a share of £2 million.

Innovate UK is to invest the funding to explore new ways of:

  • increasing collaboration in the construction industry supply chain
  • improving the flow of information throughout the construction industry supply chain

If you’re working in construction or any other industry sector your business can apply for this funding. These feasibility studies must be business-led and projects are open to companies of any size working in collaboration.

If successful:

  • small businesses could receive up to 70% of their eligible project costs
  • medium-sized businesses could receive up to 60% of their eligible project costs
  • large businesses could receive up to 50% of their eligible project costs

We expect projects to last 6 to 12 months with total costs ranging from £50,000 to £150,000.

Press release

More information how to apply

IHBC newsblogs on funding

IHBC newsblogs on construction

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