Companies to pay two training levies in 2017

Firms with a wages bill of more than £3million will have to pay two training levies in 2017.

The Stone Specialist writes:

Training body CITB and the Government Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) have come to an agreement that will see qualifying firms paying two training levies next year.

A levy for the government’s new Trailblazer apprenticeships is due to start being collected in April next year, although some major companies are still fighting the proposal. It will kick in at 0.5% when a company’s payroll exceeds £3million. It is supposed to replace the CITB levy, but a lot of sectors want to continue with CITB?apprenticeships, many in the stone industry among them.

Read more….

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Councils must treat planning applications for Green Belt ‘consistently’

Councils must apply planning rules properly when considering applications for building on the Green Belt, the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) Dr Jane Martin has warned, following a ruling against St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council for allowing a five bedroom house to replace a dormer bungalow in Green Belt.

Dr Martin said councils must take account of all the dimensions of any proposals to make sure they are not ‘materially larger’ than what they might replace.

She told to apologise to the neighbours who complained and pay £250 each to recognise the time they had spent on it, their trouble and frustration and loss of confidence in the authority.

Dr Martin said that councils must apply their policies ‘consistently’ and that the fair treatment of all planning applicants was ‘fundamental to good administration.’ 

Read more…

Recent LGO advice via IHBC NewsBlogs

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Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016: Legislation and policy update for July 2016

An update for July 2016 on the arrangements for historic environment legislation and policy in Wales has been issues by Cadw, covering among other items the 2016 Act, implementation and consultations.

Cadw writes:

  1. The Historic Environment (Wales) Bill received Royal Assent on 21 March 2016. The full text of the Act and the Explanatory Notes are available on the internet at
  2. Significant changes were made in two areas of the Act during Stage 3 consideration:

Historic Environment Records — The Assembly accepted amendments to transfer the duty for compiling and updating the historic environment records (HERs) from local planning authorities to the Welsh Ministers.  This will make it easier for the Welsh Ministers to maintain the current arrangements under which the four Welsh archaeological trusts successfully administer the HERs.  The Welsh Ministers must issue guidance on how certain public bodies — local authorities, National Park authorities and Natural Resources Wales — should use the HERs when carrying out their functions.

Listed buildings in disrepair — The Assembly unanimously supported a non-government amendment at Stage 3 that will give the Welsh Ministers powers to make regulations to allow local authorities to serve ‘preservation notices’ requiring specified works to listed buildings.  This provides a legislative framework within which detailed provisions can be developed.


  1. The provisions in the act will be implemented in stages. The following provisions came into force on 21 May 2016, two months after the legislation received Royal Assent.
Act sections Provisions
6–9 Changes to the scheduled monument consent process
12–14 Scheduled monument enforcement and temporary stop notices
15–17 Control of works to scheduled monuments and damage to certain monuments
19–21 Power of entry to land believed to contain an ancient monument; monuments in territorial waters; and electronic service of documents.
22 Definition of a monument
27 Application conditions for certificates of immunity from listing
29 Temporary stop notices for listed buildings
30(1)–(5) Amendments to urgent works provisions.
32–33 Miscellaneous — electronic service of documents and supplementary provisions.
  1. Other provisions will not come into effect until the Welsh Ministers formally commence them by order. Some provisions will require supplementary secondary legislation, including:
Act sections Provisions
3 & 24 Reviews of decisions to designate
5 Simplified scheduled monument consent process
11 & 28 Heritage partnership agreements
30(6) Interest rates on costs of urgent works
31 Preservation notices and other steps for the preservation of listed buildings in disrepair
  1. Other provisions in the Act will need non-legislative preparations before they can be brought into force. These will involve:
Act sections Provisions
18 Statutory register of historic parks and gardens
34 Statutory list of historic place names
35-37 Formalisation of the statutory HER arrangements and preparation of the draft guidance on their use for consultation
38-39 Establishment of the Advisory Panel for the Welsh Historic Environment


  1. Consultation on the revised historic environment chapter (chapter 6) of Planning Policy Wales closed on the 13 June 2016. Planning Division are currently analysing the consultation responses and considering what changes are needed to the text. The intention is to publish the chapter in the autumn of this year.
  2. Cadw is planning a series of consultations during 2016 and early 2017 on secondary legislation and best-practice documents intended to support the Act. The first twelve-week consultation will start during the week of the 11 July and cover:
  • Regulations to set the interest rate for costs from urgent works to listed buildings;
  • Procedures for compensation associated with temporary stop notices;
  • Requirement for a heritage impact statement as part of historic asset consent applications and associated guidance;
  • Simplification of the scheduled monument consent procedures;
  • Guidance — Managing Change to Listed Buildings in Wales;
  • Guidance — Managing Change in World Heritage Sites in Wales;
  • Guidance — Managing Conservation Areas in Wales; and
  • Guidance — Managing Lists of Historic Assets of Special Local Interest in Wales.
  • Guidance — Setting of Historic Assets in Wales (how the setting of historic assets in Wales should be considered when assessing the potential impact of development or land management proposals).
  1. In addition, Planning Division’s consultation on ‘Technical Advice Note 24: The Historic Environment’ will run in tandem with the Cadw consultation.

Other Best-practice Guidance Documents in preparation

  1. The guidance documents identified below are also in preparation with a view to issuing them for consultation during 2016 and 2017.
  • Managing Historic Character in Wales

This guidance will explain why it is important to recognise historic character in conservation, regeneration and planning work. . It will complement Managing Lists of Historic Assets of Special Local Interest in Wales.

  • Managing Change to Registered Historic Parks and Gardens in Wales

Aimed at owners, managers and planners, this guidance will explain the roles and responsibilities of all partners who have a role to play in the management of registered historic parks and gardens. This will assist implementation of the Act’s measure to introduce a statutory register.

  • Managing Historic Buildings at Risk

Aimed at local planning authorities, this will be a best-practice guide to using existing and new provisions for tackling historic buildings at risk.

  • Historic Environment Records in Wales — Statutory Guidance for Public Bodies

This will reflect the powers in the Act, which place a duty on the Welsh Ministers to compile and keep up to date a historic environment record (HER) for each local authority area in Wales. It will advise public bodies how to use HERs in Wales in the exercise of their functions. 

  • Managing Change to Scheduled Monuments in Wales

Aimed principally at owners and agents, this guidance will set out general principles to consider when making changes to scheduled monuments and explain how to apply for scheduled monument consent, including the roles and responsibilities of owners and Cadw.

  • Heritage Partnership Agreements in Wales

Heritage partnership agreements aim to bring owners, consenting authorities and other interested parties together to create long-term management plans for historic assets and their settings. The agreements will cover agreed work programs and incorporate scheduled monument and/or listed building consents. Intended for both both owners and decision-making authorities, this guidance will explain the benefits and practicalities of setting up heritage partnership agreements.

Preservation Notices

  1. Section 31 of the Act, Preservation of listed buildings in disrepair’ allows Welsh Ministers to make regulations setting out further steps that local authorities in Wales may take to secure the proper preservation of listed buildings that have fallen into disrepair. The Act allows the regulations to make provision for:
  • the service of preservation notice specifying the works that the owner of a listed building in disrepair must execute to secure the proper preservation of the building and a deadline for the completion of works;
  • a system of appeals against preservation notices;
  • offences for failure to comply with preservation notices; and
  • appeals in respect of such offences.

The Act also allows for civil sanctions for offences associated with preservation notices.

  1. Whilst the Act provides the basic legal framework for preservation notices, the details of the regulations remain to be worked out. He aim is to gather evidence, including perhaps commissioned research, to inform the development of options during the coming months. Once the proposals are developed, public consultation will take place before the secondary legislation is introduced into the National Assembly for Wales.

Law Commission scoping report on planning law in Wales

  1. The Law Commission launched a consultation on the 30 June 2016 on a scoping report to inform the Planning Law project they are undertaking for the Welsh Government. The aim is to consolidate and simplify planning legislation in Wales. The proposals — especially those in chapter 6 which propose to amalgamate the listed building and conservation area consent regimes with planning permission — will be of particular interest because of their potential impact on the management of the historic environment. This is not a Welsh Government consultation.
  1. The consultation will close on 30 September 2016 and the documents are available on the Law Commission’s website ( 

For Cadw see the website

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Towards a suburban renaissance: an agenda for our city suburbs

A new report by the Smith Institute calls on Ministers to set-up a Government-sponsored task force to decide a strategy to halt the decline of suburban areas which, its research says, are falling behind urban centres.

The Smith Institute writes:

It is 17 years since the Urban Task Force led by Lord Rogers reported its findings in Towards an Urban Renaissance. The highly influential report set the tone and agenda for the regeneration and revitalisation of many of our city centres. Quite literally on the edge of that urban renaissance debate has been the future of our suburbs.

While there have been some useful reports warning about the marginalisation of suburbia they have rarely had the prominence they deserve. Moreover, when suburbs have been discussed, the debate has focused on creating new suburbs rather than examining what existing areas might need.

This report aims to build on the Institute’s previous work by examining some of the drivers of change in suburbs in three major cities, not least in respect of population change, housing, the economy, the labour market and welfare reform. The aim was not only to place the spotlight on the problems facing the suburbs, but also to set out constructive ideas for renewal.

Ignoring the evidence of decline is consigning these places to future failure. Market forces alone are unlikely to halt decline or regenerate ailing suburbs. Instead, as the evidence presented in this report demonstrates, cross-sector collaboration is needed. Not just between public and private sector, but between local authorities and with voluntary and community groups. However, just as with the urban renaissance, realising any renewal of the suburbs demands that government takes a lead.

It is now over a decade and half on from the Urban Task Force and some of the issues are inevitably very different. Prices and values have changed and public finances are under serious stress. Furthermore, the move to greater devolution is changing the ways decision making in suburbs will take place. Nevertheless, as the report makes clear, there is a strong case for a suburban task force to set out an agenda and consensus for change, and for local, city and national government to act on the findings. 

Read more… and see the publication

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New Chairman for the National Heritage Training Group

The National Heritage Training Group (NHTG) has announced the appointment of its new Chairman as Robert (Bob) Howard MBE, long associated with the Tile Association.

NHTG writes:

For the next stage in our development as a fully independent organisation taking responsibility for the future of the heritage sector of UK construction, we are delighted to announce the appointment of our new Chairman.

Robert (Bob) Howard MBE will already be known to many as the voice of the Tile Association and says he is excited by the challenge of taking the NHTG forward at a time of increasing political and economic uncertainty.

‘Despite everything else that is going on around us, we must not lose focus on the challenges facing the heritage sector, not least the alarming shortages in our traditional crafts skills base’ he says.

‘Our architectural inheritance must be safeguarded for future generations and that can only be achieved through training and education. We must ensure vital skills, knowledge and experiences are passed on and I firmly believe it is the role and indeed the responsibility of the NHTG to oversee this transition.’

Bob also sees the work of the NHTG Project Management Board in delivering the new bursary programme (funded by HLF to provide heritage training in the workplace) as a great example of how the NHTG is shaping the future of the sector.

‘I hope my own extensive craft and industry experience, accumulated over the past 52 years will help NHTG in our promotion and delivery of heritage skills to a workforce which will be increasingly in demand.’

Born and educated in Manchester, Bob has been in the wall & floor tiling industry since leaving school. His career path took him from a five year bound indentured apprenticeship to become a Lecturer at the Manchester College of Building before moving south in 1978 to become Director and subsequently Managing Director of a London based Tiling Contractor.

He was the last Chairman of the National Association of Master Tile Fixers and one of the Founders of The Tile Association. As past Chairman and current board member of the TTA he chairs the Training Committee, represents the Technical Committee and carries out technical inspections on their behalf, but still finds time to run his own business as an independent Consultant for wall and floor tiling.

Bob also represents the TTA in Europe where he is President of the European Union of Tile Fixers, an umbrella organization that represents 11 European Trade Associations from its registered office in Brussels.

In 2012 in the Jubilee Honours List, Her Majesty the Queen presented Bob with the MBE for services to the British wall and floor tiling industry. He is also a Liveryman to The Worshipful Company of Tyler’s and Bricklayers.

The NHTG is delighted that such a passionate, influential and experienced individual will be leading the team forward in the next stages of its development as it continues to promote heritage skills as a priority for UK construction 

Read more about the NHTG

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Outcomes from CIC Strategic Review 2016-20

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) has released the outcomes of the year-long Strategic Review of the organization, including an agreed strapline – ‘Built Environment professions together’ – and a new mission: ‘To improve the UK construction industry by collectively representing and supporting the built environment professions’.

CIC writes:

At its landmark 100th Council meeting last week, Construction Industry Council (CIC) members came together to discuss the outcomes of the year-long Strategic Review of the organisation and agree its recommendations for the next five years. The Review was facilitated by Richard Brindley and led by Tony Burton, with support from John Nolan, Graham Watts and CIC staff members, a Strategic Review Steering Group, comprising several member representatives, and workshops of member representatives at the 2015 and 2016 Members’ Conferences.

The Review has made the following recommendations for the CIC:

  • A new Strapline – BUILT ENVIRONMENT PROFESSIONS TOGETHER – which will be implemented as soon as possible as part of an overall brand refresh.

The Vision and Mission will be implemented immediately and will remain in place until reviewed in 2020 unless otherwise determined by Council.

The Council agreed three Strategic Priorities, which will be of equal importance. During 2016-2020, the CIC:


Going forward all activities of CIC will be required to support one or more of these strategic priorities.

Speaking after the Council meeting Tony Burton (out-going CIC Chairman) said: ‘This has been a very constructive and informative process. It is a very bold move for a member led organisation to take itself apart, analyse and reassemble itself in a Strategic Review like this. It could not have been completed without the full support of the members of CIC. The new structures and governance model better reflect what our members require of CIC and have already created a greater desire for members to be involved with projects on some of the major issues facing our sector. The review is complete, we have had enough talk, now is the time for action.’

Incoming CIC Chairman John Nolan commented: ‘The challenges and opportunities for the industry going forward are manifold and complex. With these strategic priorities we will be able to focus our resources on how best to support our members.’

The Review implementation plan will be presented at the next CIC Executive Board meeting on 21 July for ratification. 

Read more….

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GII* theatre renovation scoops prestigious award

The project to restore the front of Eastbourne’s Grade II* listed Congress Theatre has scooped an Excellence Award for design and innovation, winning the refurbishment category of the Schueco Excellence Awards 2016, which is run in conjunction with the Journal of the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA).

Read more in the Eastbourne Independent & the Eastbourne Herald

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DfT launches £60 million competition to support sustainable travel

Councils in England are invited by the Department for Transport (DfT) to apply for a share of £60 million of new funding to support sustainable travel, with a closing date of 9 September.

The DfT writes:

Walking and cycling in local communities will be boosted by a £60 million government competition now launched.

Councils across England are being asked to bid for a share of the Department for Transport’s green Sustainable Travel Access Fund.

The fund has been launched to encourage councils to offer sustainable transport initiatives which can improve access to jobs, skills, training and education.

The cash, which will support projects over 3 years from 2017 to 2020, is part of a wider government fund of over £300 million to boost walking and cycling during the current parliament.

Councils are being encouraged to look at opportunities to work together on devising schemes. The successful authorities will be asked to contribute 10% of their scheme costs.

They are encouraged to work alongside Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), many of whom will be including sustainable transport measures, including walking and cycling investment, proposals to be submitted next month in a further round of Growth Deals where up to £1.8 billion will be available.

Cycling and walking Minister Robert Goodwill said: ‘Green sustainable transport schemes cut congestion, improve air quality and can make it easier for people to get around more efficiently and effectively.  We are investing over £300 million to support cycling and walking schemes in this parliament, and this new scheme is aimed at kick-starting innovative and sustainable council projects.’

The results of an earlier competition were announced in May, with 23 local councils or combined authority projects sharing in £20.6 million of government cash to support a total of nearly £33.4 million worth of new projects up and down England, including:

  • Let’s Get to Work in Greater Manchester
  • Connecting Hampshire to Grow Rural Prosperity
  • Go Smarter across the north-east

The closing date for councils to bid for a share of the new fund is Friday 9 September. Councils across England can apply, excluding London which falls under the jurisdiction of the Mayor.

Apply for the Sustainable Travel Access Fund

Read more….

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Gumtree Oxfordshire land sale scam warning

West Oxfordshire District Council has warned prospective purchasers of land advertised for sale on the popular classifieds website Gumtree that it has very limited development potential while part lies within a Conservation Area (CA).

The Council writes:

The Council were made aware of the advert by a local resident who spotted it had been placed online a few days ago.

Cllr Warwick Robinson, Cabinet Member for Planning at the Council, said: ‘The site is considered to be ‘greenfield land’ and is in attractive open countryside away from any major settlement. Steps were taken to protect this land back in 2005 when we found out that it was to be sub-divided into plots and sold off.’

‘We’re keen to make people fully aware of the planning limitations on the land and caution them that they should not invest in this site for development purposes.’

Situated partially within a conservation area and bordering ancient woodland, the site has very limited potential for any form of development and housing proposals are especially unlikely to be supported. Any permitted development rights on the land have also been removed, including:

  • Putting up fences and other means of enclosure
  • Creating access to the road
  • Moving portable buildings and structures on to the land
  • Using the land for any purposes for up to 28 days

Read more….

For more information about planning and permitted development rights, see the Council’s website:

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IHBC 2016 Yearbook’s Rypkema on ‘Heritage incentives’: now also on IHBC’s Conservation Wiki

IHBC Yearbook 2016The IHBC Yearbook article by the renowned American authority on heritage finances, Donovan Rypkema, entitled ‘Incentives for the protection, restoration and maintenance of historic buildings’, has been re-published on the IHBC’s Conservation Wiki site, helping extend the reach of heritage-related strategies into mainstream construction thinking. 

Donovan Rypkema writes:

‘You think there are heritage buildings out there that need saving, right? So how can that be done? Fortunately, years ago at a symposium in Austria, Mark Schuster and colleagues… made a finite list. They concluded that there were only five tools to save historic resources: ownership and operation, regulation, information, property rights, and incentives. Schuster subsequently told his students at MIT that he’d give them an automatic A in his course if they could come up with a sixth. They never did’ 

The author, Donovan Rypkema, is principal of PlaceEconomics, a Washington, DC-based real estate and economic development consulting firm. 

Find out more about Rypkema on heritage incentives using the links below. 

For PlaceEconomics see 

For more on Donovan see

See Donovan Rypkema’s article on IHBC’s Conservation Wiki

See Conservation Wiki, and create your own contributions

See IHBC’s Yearbook details, and arrange for purchase and advertising

See the original Yearbook article

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IHBC Members with benefits: HCA offers 10% discount to IHBC members on ‘Lime’ courses

HCA_webThe Heritage Crafts Alliance (HCA), IHBC’s newest recognised CPD provider, offers IHBC members 10% discount on forthcoming short courses in ‘Lime’ at its Bedale centre, in North Yorkshire, in August and September coming.

The courses cover Lime Pointing (17 September) and Lime Plastering (20 August).

To claim your discount simply notify the HCA of your IHBC membership number at the time of booking.

HCA writes:

1-day Lime pointing

Dates: 17 September 2016

Time: 9.30 – 4.30

Price: £110 + VAT (includes light lunch)

This course will enable you to apply lime pointing techniques to a wide range of backgrounds including matching to existing finishes

1-day Lime plastering

Dates: 20 August 2016

Time: 9.30 – 4.30

Price: £110 + VAT (includes light lunch)

This course will enable you to apply a variety of lime render and plaster finishes to a wide range of backgrounds including matching to existing finishes

To contact the HCA see:

HCA Training Centre, Thorp Perrow Estate, Bedale DL8 2PR, United Kingdom

T: Heritage Craft Alliance 01677 422289 or

E: for more details

For more on the HCA see

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IHBC ‘reminder’: NW Conference on housing today – ‘Home is where the heart is!’, 6 October, Liverpool

NW2016Members are reminded that places can now be booked at the ever popular IHBC North West Conference – this year looking at the home and taking place on Liverpool on 6 October.

IHBC’s NW Branch writes:

Houses form the highest proportion of all heritage assets, whether purpose designed or later adapted to incorporate residential accommodation. Balancing the changing needs of homeowners whilst protecting the architectural and historic value of historic buildings continues to present ongoing challenges to architects and conservation professionals alike.

Meanwhile at a national level great efforts are being placed upon boosting the supply of new housing to the meet the demands of an increasing population and changing household structures. This has resulted in great development pressure within both urban and rural areas and heritage assets, historic buildings and or conservation areas, are no exception to this process.

This conference will explore the challenges of designing new homes within historic areas, consider how to sensitively adapt and convert historic buildings to meet the needs of existing and future occupants as well as highlighting examples of best practice both locally and nationally. It will be of interest to planners, architects, developers, property owners, amenity societies, and all those who manage and care for the historic environment.

For more detail and to book see the conference website at

For more background see below

IHBC NW conference – ‘Home is where the heart is…’ – launched at IHBC’s 2016 School: 6 October

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IHBC HSE Theatres Trust update on ‘inspecting suspended plaster ceilings’

The Theatres Trust has written to the IHBC to update our members on their discussions with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to note especially that the requirement for suspended plaster ceiling inspection is applicable to any building open to members of the public, not just theatres, and that 1 September is the deadline that theatre owners must have inspected their suspended plaster ceilings to ensure they are safe.

Claire Appleby, Architecture Adviser at The Theatres Trust writes:

I am writing from the Theatres Trust as we have recently been in discussion with the Health and Safety Executive regarding the requirement for suspended plaster ceiling inspections within all theatres. As you are no doubt aware, the requirement to survey ceilings followed the collapse of the fibrous plaster ceiling at the Apollo Theatre in 2013. However, it is important to note that the requirement for suspended plaster ceiling inspection is applicable to any building which is open to members of the public, not just theatres.

The deadline for the survey of all suspended ceilings in buildings is now fast approaching and both the HSE and the Theatres Trust are keen to ensure that building owners and operators (theatres and otherwise) understand their responsibilities….

The 1 September marks the deadline that theatre owners must have inspected their suspended plaster ceilings to ensure they are safe. Details about all of this can be found on the ABTT (The Association of British Theatre Technicians) website at

Mr Melvin Sandell from the HM Inspector of Health and Safety, Entertainments has asked us to pass on the following notice:

‘I will be writing to all local authorities shortly after 1 September to explain that theatres with suspended plaster ceilings should now be able to provide evidence that their ceiling has been completely inspected by a competent person and explain how that competence was determined. If you have not done this I recommend you contact your local authority as soon as possible to explain what you are doing to ensure the safety of your ceiling.’

If anyone has any queries about suspended plaster ceilings they can contact Claire Appleby at the Theatres Trust.

Please do not hesitate to call me if you wish to discuss the above or if you would like to speak with the HSE direct please contact Flip (Melvin) Sandell on

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New government axes DECC

The government has axed the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) in a major departmental shake-up.

The BBC writes

The brief will be folded into an expanded Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy under Greg Clark.

Ed Miliband, the former energy and climate secretary under Labour, called the move ‘plain stupid’.

It comes at a time when campaigners are urging the government to ratify the Paris climate change deal.

In his statement, Mr Clark appeared keen to calm concerns about the priority given to tackling global warming.

He said: ‘I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading Government’s relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change.’

Meanwhile, Andrea Leadsom, who ran against Theresa May for the Conservative leadership, is the new Environment Secretary.

Read more….

UK Parliament news…

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IHBC perspective: 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist – 2 of final 6 ‘designated’

The successful shortlist of 6 in the prestigious 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building has been announced, and includes two projects for designated buildings, Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall and the Grade II listed Giles Gilbert Scott’s University of Oxford Weston Library, generating a strong sign that conservation through designation can underpin quality outcomes in new design. 

RIBA writes:

The six shortlisted buildings will now go head-to-head for architecture’s highest accolade, to be awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects on Thursday 6 October 2016. Now in its twenty-first year, the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize is sponsored by Almacantar….

Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall has involved the conversion of an extraordinary terrace of listed industrial buildings, that were formerly theatre carpentry and scenery painting workshops. The gallery forms the whole length of the street, with the three listed Victorian buildings flanked at either end by new buildings. The ground and upper floors within the five buildings are continuous, allowing them to be used flexibly in many combinations, to accommodate both large and small exhibitions. There are three large galleries on each of the two floors, stretching in a line from one end of the building to the other.

The brief for this historic and Grade II listed Giles Gilbert Scott building was, literally and metaphorically, to open the doors of the library to the public to enable them to embrace knowledge. This was combined with the technically challenging requirements of protecting the precious and very rare documents stored within the archive and ensuring their preservation for future generations.

Read more about the awardsNewport Street Gallery and Weston Library

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Launch of Great British High Street competition 2016

High Streets Minister Marcus Jones called on communities across the country to enter their villages, towns and cities into the Great British High Street competition 2016, with prizes of up to £10000 and a deadline for entries of Friday, 9 September 2016.

Department for Communities and Local Government writes:

Now in its 3rd year, the competition celebrates the great work that is being done to revive, adapt and diversify the nation’s high streets and is an opportunity for councils, businesses, community groups and volunteers to learn from the very best.

Last year’s competition saw a record-breaking 230 entries and attracted over 200,000 public votes, with Bishy Road in York, a former finalist, crowned Britain’s best.

With new categories, new prizes, including the chance to win up to £10,000 each, the minister said he expected to see even more competition entries, this year.

The government is helping local business communities adapt to the changing face of high streets, with a £6.7 billion package of business rates support, to cut the rates for 900,000 businesses – with 600,000 now paying none at all.

Investment in the high street is up by 30%, the national vacancy rate has fallen to its lowest level since January 2009 and retail sales have increased year-on-year for the longest period on record.

Speaking on a launch visit to Camden High Street, Marcus Jones said: ‘With a record number of entries and 200,000 public votes cast, last year’s competition was a massive success.  This year’s Great British High Street competition is going to be even bigger and better, with new categories and a simplified entry form.

I’d urge everyone to get involved to showcase the hard work of your community, in keeping high streets the life and soul of our towns, villages and cities.’

As well as the cash prize, winners will also receive dedicated support and mentoring from industry experts which could range from one to one coaching to advice on digital marketing.

Internet giant, Google’s expert training taskforce will also provide category winners with training on how to make the most of their digital skills.

The 2016 Great British High Street competition is supported by great brands and companies who between them represent over 22,000 outlets.

The 9 competition categories for places are:

  • Best City Centre High Street
  • Best Town Centre High Street
  • Best Market Town High Street (small)
  • Best Market Town High Street (large)
  • Best Coastal Community High Street
  • Best Village High Street
  • Best Local Centre – precinct or parade of shops
  • Best London High Street
  • Rising Star – to recognise towns who are turning fortunes around

The 4 competition categories for individuals are:

  • Best Store Manager or Employee from a National Retailer / Organisation
  • Best Store Manager or Employee from an Independent / Small Business
  • Best Market Manager, Operator, Farmer or Trader
  • Best under 25 year old, manager or employee from a high street business

Nominations are now open across England, Wales and Scotland. The top 3 shortlisted in each category will be announced in October.

They will then go through to a public online vote and be visited by the Future High Streets Forum judging panel made up of industry leaders from across retail, property and business.

The Great British High Street competition is run by the Department for Communities and Local Government and sponsored by Boots, the British Council of Shopping Centres, Ellandi, Holland and Barratt, Marks and Spencer, the Post Office and Wilko.

read more…. and find out how to enter the competition

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