Final report on conservation covenants published

The Law Commission has published their final report into conservation covenants this week, recommending the introduction of a new statutory form of conservation covenants in England and Wales, with the report now being considered by Government.

IHBC members will be interested to note that the summary document states the purpose of a conservation covenant as being ‘the landowner promises to do something, or not do something, on his or her land to achieve a conservation objective such as preserving a historic building, cultivating a particular species of plant, protecting a habitat, or farming land in a certain way’ (para 1.1)

Law Commission article

UK Gov full report

Law Commission summary

Law Commission consultation responses, including the IHBC response

IHBC newsblogs on the consultation launch

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Pinewood Studios accepts ‘inappropriate’ development

Pinewood Studios is set to double in size after winning an appeal against the refusal by South Bucks District Council of its £200m expansion plan in the Green Belt by Arup Associates.

An earlier application involving significant housing was refused by both South Bucks District Council and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles after an appeal.

This time Pickles agreed with the inspector that there were special circumstances that justified what was inappropriate development.

‘The characteristics of the particular site, the relationship to the existing Pinewood Studios, the individual circumstances of the film industry and the details of the supporting economic case, taken together provide a distinguishing combination of features,’ he said.

Pickles concluded: ‘Very special circumstances exist to warrant allowing the inappropriate development, overriding the identified conflict with the development plan’.

The expansion project, known as the Pinewood Studios Development Framework, will double the existing studios by adding more than 100,000 square metres of new facilities, including 12 large stages, workshops and production offices.

Search Planning Portal

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Scotland’s NPF3 and SPP launched

Two major documents affecting operation and framework for the planning system in Scotland were laid before the Scottish Parliament this week, including National Planning Framework 3 (NPF 3), which sets the context for development planning in Scotland and provides a framework for the spatial development of Scotland as a whole, and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP), which sets out national planning policies which reflect Scottish Ministers’ priorities for operation of the planning system.

The Scottish Government writes:
Planning Minister Derek Mackay has today launched the Scottish Government’s vision for planning in Scotland.

The National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3) and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) will shape long term economic development and local planning policy in areas such as transport, town centres, energy and infrastructure, and balance economic growth with protection of our environment.

NPF3 confirms the Government’s support for 14 large-scale national developments, including major regeneration schemes at Dundee Waterfront and Ravenscraig, carbon capture and storage schemes in Peterhead and Grangemouth, and support for improvements at our airports.

NPF3 and SPP also place a ban on windfarm development in the 19 per cent of Scotland identified as National Parks and National Scenic Areas. Significant protection is provided to sensitive areas of land identified within Scottish Natural Heritage’s Wild Land Areas Map 2014, also published today. In total, approximately 30 per cent of Scotland’s landscape will benefit from stronger protection against inappropriate development.

In addition to the new rules protecting Scotland’s most scenic areas, tighter controls on onshore oil and gas developments have been introduced.

Five new measures are also being introduced in relation to hydraulic fracturing, including bringing in a requirement for buffer zones to ensure development only proceeds if communities and the environment can be protected. Operators will also have to consult with communities on their proposals.

Launching the publication of NPF3 in Glasgow today, Derek Mackay said: ‘Today is a watershed for planning in Scotland – this revised planning policy will deliver improvements that will benefit the nation for decades to come.

Our ambition is to create great places that support economic growth across the country, and together, NPF3 and the SPP set out a shared vision for Scotland as a place which benefits from a positive planning system that protects our unique environment.

NPF3 confirms our support for 14 national developments that will drive economic growth, champion our most successful places, and support changes in areas where, in the past, there has been a legacy of decline

This strategic focus will support the regeneration and reindustrialisation of Scotland, as well as improving transport and connectivity links, and ensuring sustainable development through support for green networks and low carbon energy supply.’

Commenting on new measures to strengthen protection for scenic areas and wild land in relation to onshore wind farms and new measures to strengthen planning policy in relation to unconventional oil and gas development, Mr Mackay added: ‘The Scottish Government remains strongly committed to releasing Scotland’s onshore wind energy potential, however we have always made clear that we want the right developments in the right places.

We have taken steps to ensure that no wind farm developments can go ahead in our cherished National Parks and National Scenic Areas, and we have strengthened the protection of wild land, with new maps and inclusion directly in the SPP and NPF3.

This new policy also gives serious consideration to concerns over unconventional oil and gas with five main changes to strengthen planning policy.

These include new rules on hydraulic fracturing which will compel operators to consult with the public.

In addition, buffer zones will be established to protect communities and these will be assessed by planning authorities and statutory consultees.

Any application for coalbed methane or shale gas projects must comply with the appropriate regulatory regimes, including SEPA’s guidance on the regulation of shale gas and coalbed methane.

I am grateful to the Scottish Parliament and to the many people, communities and organisations who have contributed to the development of our policies, which help to ensure that planning continues to create great places for the people of Scotland for years to come.’

Scottish Government news release

NPF3 and download as pdf or ebook

Scotish Government Planning  & Policy 

Search Planning Portal

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HLF highlights the state of UK parks

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has issued new research this week regarding the condition of parks and open spaces in the UK, highlighting concerns with cutbacks in the public sector but also the importance of parks to local communities. 

HLF writes:
The Heritage Lottery Fund has published ‘State of UK Public Parks 2014: Renaissance to risk?’. its first report to comprehensively review the condition and management of the UK’s public parks. Two decades of public and Lottery investment has ensured that the majority of UK parks are in better condition, but unless future funding is generated in new ways, parks are at serious risk of rapid decline and even being sold off and lost to the public forever.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of HLF, said: ‘This report makes for sobering reading. Parks are highly valued, precious places that are vital to our physical and emotional well-being. Following decades of decline, Lottery funding sparked a parks renaissance but that is now at risk. We realise these are financially tough times and that is why we need collaborative action and a fresh approach to halt this threat of decline and stop this cycle of boom and bust. Our parks are far too important not to act now.’

Key findings from the research
Parks are under direct threat:

    • 86% of parks managers report cuts to revenue budgets since 2010, a trend they expect to continue over the next three years. This could mean: park facilities such as cafes and toilets are closed or opening hours reduced; grass left uncut, flower beds left empty, play areas less regularly cleaned and inspected and more anti-social behaviour due to less park staff
    • 45% of local authorities are considering either selling parks and green spaces or transferring their management to others. This could mean: loss of some parks, parts of parks and other green spaces, management of parks being divided between different organisations, community groups being asked to take on larger parks and needing support to do so effectively
    • 81% of council parks departments have lost skilled management staff since 2010 and 77% have lost front-line staff 

Parks are one of the most highly used public assets:

    • With 34million people estimated to make regular visits parks are one of the UK’s most heavily used public services
    • 68% of park users consider spending time in their local park as important or essential to their quality of life. This rises to 71% in urban areas and 81% for those with children under 10
    • 70% of park managers have recorded increased visitor numbers to their principal parks over the last year

Trend towards greater community involvement:

    • In the past three years park managers have seen an increase of over 30% in the number of friends and park user groups and over half of expect this increase to continue
    • 47% of park friends groups say membership numbers have increased over the last three years
    • Community groups are playing an increasing role in championing and supporting parks – with an estimated £30million raised for parks annually by friends groups

Responding to the report Harry Bowell, Regional Director at the National Trust said: ‘We know people love being outdoors and some of their most treasured spaces to relax and play are those on their doorstep, their local parks and green spaces. This ground-breaking report from HLF is a wake -call. The traditional model for funding public parks is breaking down and bold new ideas are needed. We want to help find solutions that could work in every city and town.’

Parks have enjoyed a twenty year renaissance as a result, in part, of £700million of Lottery investment. However, local authorities have no statutory requirement to fund and maintain them. Neither is there a national coordinating body able to champion the importance of parks, to assert their value to communities and the economy, and protect them for future generations to enjoy.

In addition to calling for continued investment by local authorities, HLF’s report highlights the need to develop new ways of looking after and funding parks. It highlights five key areas needing urgent joint action to ensure past investment is not wasted.

HLF pledges to:

    • Continue to monitor and report on the public parks across the UK it has invested in
    • Invest in innovative ideas for making parks financially sustainable, through the Lottery and Nesta funded Rethinking Parks programme – details below
    • Continue investing up to £24m each year across the UK through the Parks for People programme, with Big Lottery Fund providing an additional £10m per year in England until the end of 2015
    • Commission and publish a second State of UK Public Parks report in 2016 to review progress

Finding new innovative ways to make the financing and management of parks sustainable is vital to ensuring their future. HLF and the Big Lottery Fund are working in partnership with the innovation charity Nesta on a Rethinking Parks programme. This is supporting organisations and partnerships to explore, test and scale new approaches to generating income for and managing parks. Shortly to be announced are grants totalling £1million that will enable a range of innovative park projects to be piloted. Full details will be announced in July 2014.

Lydia Ragoonanan, Rethinking Parks programme manager at Nesta: ‘Heritage Lottery Fund’s report is very welcome and shines a light on the huge challenges facing our parks. We’re excited to be supporting potential solutions to these challenges through the Rethinking Parks programme which will help parks to develop, test and share new ways to manage their parks. From membership schemes to pop-up meeting spaces and new horticultural techniques, we want to see if these ideas could help sustain our precious parks long into the future.’ 

View the news release including details of recent HLF funding awarded to parks, and the ‘Parks Matter’ video

Download the full report

IHBC newsblogs on historic parks and gardens

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In court: heritage, nature & beauty

Consent for the multi-million pound redevelopment of Gravesend’s Heritage Quarter is under threat now a local campaign group has decided to go to court over the way the scheme was approved by the Kent local authority.

Key elements of the housing sites allocation strategy of Rochford District Council’s adopted local plan have been challenged in the High Court in a case brought by a local resident who chairs a group campaigning against the release of Green Belt land.

Local campaigners over plans to allow exploratory drilling for oil and gas at a Surrey beauty spot have lost their Appeals Court challenge. The court upheld an earlier ruling by a High Court judge overturning the refusal by Surrey County Council to allow Europa Oil and Gas Ltd’s drilling proposals for a site at Holmwood near Dorking in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

A High Court judge has overturned a decision by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, to refuse an appeal over a 24 megawatt solar farm at Beccles, Suffolk, which the planning inspector who held the recovered appeal recommended should be allowed.

Search Planning Portal

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1200 assets protected in England’s community listings

England’s Minister for Communities Stephen Williams has paid tribute to all communities that have used new powers to protect around 1,200 local assets from sell off across England.

The Department for Communities and Local Government writes:
The fast growing list of treasured community assets now protected includes:

    • 374 pubs
    • 91 parks
    • 37 libraries
    • 35 village halls
    • 24 sports grounds and stadiums
    • 12 theatres and museums

One of the most recent uses of community rights was by the Friends of Blencathra who have taken the unusual step of applying to list the Blencathra peak in Cumbria, England’s eighth highest mountain to protect it from being sold.

Stephen Williams said: ‘Unlike past governments who thought they always knew best, we have said we want to put the real experts in charge of running their community: local people.

We created new community rights precisely to allow people to list the local assets most important to them so they are publicly protected should they ever be put up for sale.

It is fantastic to see the ingenuity and enthusiasm that people are displaying for their community with over 1,000 parks and buildings now listed, and that number is growing fast.

Under powers created by this government people can put forward a community asset to their council to have it listed as a protected asset and, if approved, this gives a 6 month window for the community to put in a bid to buy it should it be put up for sale.

For examples of listed assets see the winners from a £5 million fund to support 17 community assets listings.

A further £3 million fund is currently open for bids.

Across the country over 2 million people have used or benefited from these new powers to run their community. As well as giving people the power to list local assets the government is:

    • encouraging local people to decide where development takes place and what it looks like in their area, with over 1,000 areas beginning work on neighbourhood plans
    • making it quicker to create parish councils with 17 campaigns for new parishes having received government funding, and changes coming to the rules to make it easier to start the parish council creation process too; newly created Queen’s Park parish in West London has just had its first election
    • enabling people to raise money through community shares to take over local assets; over 15,000 people invested £15 million last year in shares in community enterprises, including £500,000 to help save Hastings Pier, and 27 pubs are now co-operatively owned with an average of 1 pub a month opening as a cooperative
    • getting over 120 areas enrolled on the ‘Our Place’ programme to bring together communities, voluntary organisations, businesses, public services and elected officials to tackle local issues.

 UK Gov news

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‘Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage’: Inspiring fundraising

The Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage project, which provides new training and networking opportunities, events and resources has been launched this week, designed to help the resourcing of Scotland’s heritage sector with partners that include Built Environment Forum Scotland, BEFS.

Arts & Business Scotland writes:
A three year programme aimed at helping Scotland’s heritage sector develop long-term financial security is being launched tomorrow in Edinburgh. Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage (RSH), a sector-wide partnership led by Arts & Business Scotland with Archaeology Scotland, Built Environment Forum Scotland, greenspace Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Catalyst scheme and will deliver a programme of accessible training courses, inspirational expert led events, networking opportunities and information and resources online.

This is the first time organisations from across the heritage sector have come together to deliver a coordinated programme of support and capacity building.

The partnership was awarded a grant of £452,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to produce the capacity building programme. Speaking ahead of its launch, Colin McLean, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland, said: ‘It is fantastic to be at the point of launching Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage and see it being rolled out across the sector. The Heritage Lottery Fund believes this is a hugely worthwhile project and one we hope will inject sustainability and longevity into the heritage sector. We wish Arts & Business Scotland and their partners every success with the programme.’

RSH is the first initiative of its kind, and is open to all staff, volunteers and trustees within the heritage sector including: projects in green spaces and urban environments; historical buildings and environment; archaeology; museums, galleries and other heritage venues; and voluntary and community groups working within heritage.  The programme aims to: assist heritage organisations to realise their potential; support staff and volunteers to develop new skills; establish networks for sharing and discussion; and develop the sustainability of heritage across Scotland.

David Watt, Chief Executive of Arts & Business Scotland said: ‘It is extremely rewarding to see a vision coming to fruition and that is exactly what we are celebrating with the launch of Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage. We are confident the three-year programme will prove invaluable to the sector by providing a coordinated approach to capacity building and encourage financial resilience for many years to come.’

David Watt added:’It has been an exciting time since the partnership was awarded heritage lottery funding to create the programme and thanks to the work of all of the partners we are now ready to deliver tailored training across Scotland.’

Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage is being launched at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh on Tuesday 24th June. The launch will mark the start of the programme, announcing details of dates and locations for the initial round of training as well as unveiling the RSH brand and website.

Arts and Business Scotland website

BEFS  website

Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage website

IHBC newsblogs on funding and finance

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Great British ‘High Streets’ worth celebrating

England’s ‘High Streets’ minister Brandon Lewis MP has launched a national competition to find our Great British high streets.

Department for Communities and Local Government writes:
The search is on to find our Great British high streets as a new report reveals increasing optimism among shoppers and the growing popularity of ‘click-and-collect’ services.

A national competition, the Great British High Street Awards, is being launched by High Streets Minister Brandon Lewis, alongside new evidence showing that our high streets are rising to the challenge set by consumers who want increased convenience and more flexibility of services on the high streets.

The search to find and celebrate the best high streets in the country is being run by the Future High Streets Forum and the Association of Town and City Management. There are 6 separate categories in recognition of the diversity of Britain’s high streets:

    • city centre
    • town centre
    • market town
    • coastal community
    • village
    • parade of shops.

The government’s long-term economic plan has supported local high streets with a billion pound package of investment that includes targeted business rate discounts, sensible planning changes and action tackling over-zealous parking practices.

Many high streets affected by the economy in 2008 are now thriving as a result of changes made to serve their communities in increasingly popular ways and High Streets Minister Brandon Lewis believes this should be recognised.  He said: ‘Whether it is a market town, coastal village or city centre, there are so many high streets across Britain doing fantastic work and now every community will be able to get behind their home town’s bid to show how popular they are.’

This competition will discover where the Great British high streets are and celebrate their brilliance. I want the public to tell my panel of experts why their area should win. The most popular will get all the accolades that come with being named the best in Britain when we announce the winners in autumn.

The competition comes as new analysis by Experian found that high street managers and shop owners are positive about the future thanks to a strengthening economy and the emergence of the ‘one stop shopper’ who prioritises convenience and leisure. This is contributing to greater footfall and people spending more time on the high street.

The study identifies the rise of this evolving consumer behaviour where shoppers prefer ‘convenience culture’ such as click-and-collect services so they can multi-task and have more time to socialise while doing their shopping in this convenient way.

Different parts of the country are catering for this in a variety of ways, whether it is giving older people easier access to services, helping bargain hunters browse the best deals online or offering city dwellers more fun and variety. This shift is being reflected in a high street that is rapidly moving beyond traditional retail into a ‘Great British’ experience. The report points to the steady growth of convenience stores (+153%), cafes (+75%), fast food (+30%) and restaurants (+20%) as proof of this evolution.

The competition will be held throughout the summer. Town teams are invited to nominate their high streets and bids will be published online so communities can show their backing alongside at

Experian research, Helping people make great places

Listen to an audioboo of High Streets Minister Brandon Lewis asking the public to get behind their favourite high street

UK Government article

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New pre-app guidance for NI

The Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland (NI) has published a new information leaflet on pre-application consultation guidance for major applications, detailing recommended voluntary measures which could be taken before the full legislation comes into effect in April 2015.

The guidance includes information on:

  • Guidance on potential consultees
  • Suggested methods of consultation
  • Reporting and reviewing methods

View the information leaflet

IHBC newsblogs on community engagement and consultation methods

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Last call for entries: WMF/Knoll Modernism Prize

The deadline for this year’s World Monuments Fund (WMF)/Knoll Modernism Prize is 30 June, with entries dealing with the conservation of modernist structures eligible to apply.

The WMF writes
The World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize is awarded biennially for an innovative architectural or design solution that has preserved or enhanced a modern landmark or group of landmarks.  The first of its kind, the award acknowledges the growing threats—neglect, deterioration, or even demolition—now facing significant works of modernism, and recognizes the architects and designers who help ensure their rejuvenation and long-term survival. Its purpose is to raise public awareness of the influential role modernism plays in our architectural heritage, and recognize modern buildings as sustainable structures with viable futures.

View more details of the call for entries

IHBC newsblogs on modernism


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Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowships

Opportunities to apply for a Winston Churchill Travelling fellowship are now open, with a deadline of 5pm on 23 September 2014. 

Categories of interest to IHBC members may include:

  • Environment and sustainable living
  • The arts and older people (for community/ cultural organisations working with older people)
  • Crafts and makers

Apply online

View the categories for the scholarship

View details of other awards and opportunities

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Are you a Design Council ‘One to Watch’?

The Design Council are on the lookout for seventy emerging talents to showcase as part of their ‘Ones to Watch’ awards celebrating 70 years of the organisation.

IHBC members will be interested to learn that the categories include ‘craft’ and ‘built environment’, and entries are welcome from school pupils, college and university students, recent graduates or those new to the industry.

The Design Council writes:
All 70 designers will be featured in our Ones to Watch digital showcase and promoted as part of our 70th birthday celebrations. Winners will also receive a Design Council One to Watch swing-tag and digital stamp which can be attached to their portfolios. The 70 selected designers will be invited to Design Council events and networking opportunities.

Under 30s will also be put forward for inclusion on our youth sounding board to be launched in 2015. It could be an incredible opportunity showcase your work, so spread the word and start applying!

Design Council awards

View details of other awards and opportunities at IHBC Awards

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