Land Registry Privatisation- Commons Library report, EDM and consultation

Members who deal with statutory issues on land use and building repairs may be interested to learn that The House of Commons Library has issued a summary of the current and planned operations of the Land Registry and an Early Day Motion (EDM) has been launched following the announcement of a consultation on potential privatisation of the Land Registry (closing date of 26 May). 

View the House of Commons Library Research Briefing Paper

View information on the Early Day Motion

Respond to the consultation

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Unimplemented Planning Permissions- PAS commentary

The latest statistics on unimplemented planning permissions has been released by the Local Government Association (LGA), and PAS have issued a commentary on its use, highlighting differences between local authority areas.

View the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) blog on housing completions

View the LGA report

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CPRE: More than a ¼m houses planned for Green Belt

Research from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) shows that 275,000 houses are now planned for England’s Green Belt, an increase of 50,000 on last year and nearly 200,000 more than when the Government introduced its planning reforms back in March 2012. 

CPRE writes:
Compiled from draft and adopted local plans, the research is the latest finding to challenge the Government’s commitment to the Green Belt. Only last year Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that the protection of the ‘precious’ Green Belt was ‘paramount’, reiterating the commitment made in the Conservative party’s 2015 manifesto.

Yet last month the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark decided that 1,500 new homes should be built on Green Belt between Gloucester and Cheltenham in one of the biggest developments on Green Belt for a decade. This followed proposals in the Government’s planning policy consultation to release small sites in the Green Belt for ‘starter homes’. A Government-appointed body, the ‘Local Plans Expert Group’, has also encouraged Green Belt reviews.

CPRE’s Green Belt under siege report illustrates that Green Belt boundaries are being changed to accommodate housing at the fastest rate for two decades [6]. In the year to 2015, 11 local authorities finalised boundary changes to accommodate development. The 275,000 houses now planned are an increase of 25% on 2015, and almost double the 147,000 houses outlined for Green Belt in Labour’s 2009 regional plans. There is particular pressure in the Metropolitan and West Midlands Green Belt.

Green Belt policy is gradually being weakened through loopholes in planning guidance. Under pressure from Government to set and meet high housing targets, councils are releasing Green Belt for new development through a misappropriated ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause. At least three local authorities – Bradford, Durham and Northumberland – have claimed that economic growth justifies an ‘exceptional’ change to the Green Belt.

Green Belt designation was formally introduced in 1955 to prevent urban sprawl. Last year a poll showed widespread support for the Green Belt, with 64% of the public supporting its protection.

CPRE news

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External covering and insulation in a conservation area

A news item concerning a historic public house in Sherston in Wiltshire has been brought to the IHBC’s attention, concerning the installation of external insulation and wall covering of ‘naked stone’ within a conservation area, without planning permission.

View the Gazette and Herald article ‘Outrage over council order on Sherston pub’

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May is National Walking Month- any heritage walks near you?

Living Streets, a charity set up to ‘get people of all generations to enjoy the benefits that this simple act brings and to ensure all our streets are fit for walking’ is urging us all to sign up to walking more in May, and groups such as Transport for London are organising free heritage walks.

View ‘Walk London’ heritage walks

Find events near you and discover more about Living Streets

IHBC NewsBlogs on street planning

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Reminder: ‘Knowing helps Doing’ – let your friends know about our free ‘taster’ news emails, the IHBC’s NewsBlogs!

NewsBlog_HomepageAnyone in or beyond the heritage, development and cultural communities can now try out a free 6-month ‘taster’ of one of the IHBC’s most valuable membership benefits by simply signing up for our email news update service, the NewsBlogs. 

Sign up here

For background see the NewsBlogs

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IHBC members with benefits: Reduced rates at University of Leicester’s Heritage in Practice Courses

IHBC members can receive a 10% discount on a variety of courses run by the University in partnership with Historic England and supported by the IHBC.

Between May and June IHBC members can save 10%.  And if you book now you can save even more as the first 8 places on many of the courses are available at a special ‘early bird’ rate.

Courses include:

  • Conservation & Management of Rural Buildings
  • Understanding the Significance & Character of Place
  • Current Approaches to Landscape Archaeology
  • Managing our Military Heritage

The University of Leicester writes:
In partnership with Historic England the University of Leicester has developed a project to deliver practical, technical and specialist skills for heritage professionals. Following the success of the first year of our partnership with Historic England we are delighted to be in the position to offer an expanded range of courses for 2016.

Our CPD courses will enhance your skills, address key areas to develop your knowledge and career prospects, as well as bridging skills gaps within the sector.

With input from Historic England, the University of Leicester, the Heritage Skills Centre, and nationally recognised experts each course will focus on specific practical, technical, and specialist skills for heritage professionals.

IHBC members – to book your place and find out about the discount contact Pete Alfano at or 0116 223 1987 (please quote your IHBC membership number)

Full details of the courses…

For other CPD opportunities see the IHBC Events Calendar and the IHBC Annual School – Worcester 2016

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Our Heritage: HLF funding update blog for private owners

Sara Crofts, IHBC Member and Head of Historic Environment at the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has written a blog for the Historic Houses Association magazine, abridged on the HLF website, explaining how HLF funding can help in bringing privately owned historic houses to a wider audience.

Sara Crofts writes:
Compelling stories can spring not only from the architecture of our nation’s houses, their expansive landscapes or beautiful gardens but also from the families that have cared for these places for centuries – and the wider communities whose lives have been touched by their connections with the estates.

View the full blog

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Theatres Trust at 40

The Theatres Trust is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2016, and has launched a new strategy to guide its future development, along with a new visual identity and a programme of events (including a ‘protecting theatres’ conference). 

The Theatres Trust writes:
The Theatres Trust, the national advisory public body for theatres, is pleased to announce a renewed commitment to the protection of theatres with a new strategy and visual identity and the launch of our Theatres Trust 40 programme of events.

As the voice for theatres we use our knowledge of policy and practice to promote the value and benefits of theatres in use. We want live theatre to have a place in everyone’s lives.

We are committed to delivering a more powerful campaigning voice. Our expert advice will be more visible and more influential in the planning system and within the theatre industry. We will create new opportunities to discover more about theatres, and we will increase the levels of capital grants and funding we provide.

Chair of the Theatres Trust, Tim Eyles, says, ‘Our new strategy and visual identity mark the start of an exciting next chapter in the life of the Trust. We are passionate about great live theatre, and I look forward to the Trust’s expertise being channeled with renewed energy to help the nation’s theatres thrive into the future.’

Director of the Theatres Trust, Mhora Samuel, says, ‘Our influence means it’s now very rare to see theatres demolished without being replaced. We’re proud that the quality of theatre design is the best it’s ever been. We’ve achieved great things for theatres by speaking loudly in the planning system. In our anniversary year I invite everyone to join us at a Theatres Trust 40 event, and online, to debate how we continue to protect and promote our nation’s theatres now and in the future.’

Our Theatres Trust 40 programme includes:

  • Debate atPLASA Focus Leeds on 10 / 11 May at the Royal Armouries
  • Mini Conference at Theatre2016 on 12 /13 May
  • Discover more about theatres at West End Live, Trafalgar Square on 18 /19 June
  • Conference 16: Protecting Theatres on 21 June at the New London Theatre, chaired by Mark Shenton
  • Launch of our new website in July
  • Debate atPLASA Show London on 18 / 20 September, Olympia, London
  • Inaugural Annual Lecture on 16 November, London.

To be kept up-to-date with our Theatres Trust 40 programme, please sign up to our mailing list, if you are on Twitter please follow #theatrestrust40 and #livetheatre.

View the news release and sign up for more information

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Government responds to NIC Northern Connectivity report: Transport not enough!

The Government has responded to the National Infrastructure Commission report on Northern connectivity, concluding that ‘enhancing transport connectivity is a crucial element of delivering the Northern Powerhouse, but it is not sufficient on it is own’.

HM Treasury writes:
The government agrees that transformations in transport connectivity should form part of a broader strategy for building a Northern Powerhouse. At the 2015 Spending Review the government announced a major package totalling over £200 billion with investment in business, innovation, health, agriculture and culture as well as transport across the North. The government is also delivering radical devolution of powers across the region; powerful elected mayors have now been agreed for over half of the North’s population.

This process is not complete: the government remains committed to devolving powers throughout this Parliament. In addition, building on the strong progress made through Transport for the North (TfN), at Budget 2016 the government and the North’s major cities made a joint statement of intent to expand the focus to look at skills and employment, trade and investment, enterprise and innovation, and housing. This work will build on the Independent Economic Review commissioned by TfN, which has shown that enhancing transport connectivity is a crucial element of delivering the Northern Powerhouse, but it is not sufficient on it is own.

View the full report

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Celebrating 6 Years of Civic Voice

Civic Voice have issued a news release celebrating their 6th anniversary on April 17th highlighting some of the achievements and milestones since their establishment in 2010 and showing how Civic Voice are representing the civic movement in England

Civic Voice writes:
As we reach our 6th anniversary on April 17th, we believe that with the support of our members, we can continue to make the case that the views of civic societies should be heard.

Here are ten achievements that we want to share since we set up six years ago that demonstrate some of the ways we are representing the civic movement in England. read more…

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Opinion- Private housing growth slowing from planning delays

RICS have issued their latest UK Construction Market Survey, which shows that private housing is slowing; planning delays still seen to be a barrier to growth and RICS are calling on Councils to work together to create ‘emergency planners’ who can help address this issue.

RICS writes:
Despite the Government promising to deliver 200,000 new homes by 2020, our latest UK Construction Market Survey has revealed that growth in the private housing sector slowed down considerably during the first quarter of 2016.

On the surface, it might seem surprising that we are witnessing a slowdown in the construction sector just a few months after hearing the Chancellor’s ‘We Are The Builders’ speech, given the Government’s significant commitment to this sector. One might well ask why growth in private housing workloads is softening at a time when policy is firmly focussed on the creation of new starter homes. We have long held the view that starter homes cannot be the only solution. There is an issue around the availability of land on which new houses can be built, and we would like to see more being done to free up private brownfield sites.

Our survey tells us that planning delays are one of the biggest barriers to growth in the construction sector. We have recommended that councils work together to create a team of emergency planners who can parachute into boroughs that are experiencing significant delays, therefore reducing a major growth barrier.

That said, we cannot discount the climate of uncertainty caused by the forthcoming EU referendum. We know that a range of sectors have been affected by these issues as investors look to delay any decisions until a final outcome has been determined, and construction is no exception.

View the news release

View an RTPI response to this report

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Salford’s Urban Partnership Extended

A three year extension has been given to the Urban Vision programme in Salford.

Urban Vision writes:
Salford City Council has announced that Urban Vision, our award-winning joint venture between Salford City Council, Capita and Galiford Try, has been extended by three years to 2020. Urban Vision was formed in 2005 to provide technical services to the Council, efficiencies, improved capacity and capability, access to new markets, innovation and to grow and safeguard jobs.

The extension is worth up to £90m in total to the joint venture. To date Urban Vision has delivered significant costs savings and income generation initiatives including in excess of £12.5m secured over the last five years.

The extension will see Urban Vision continue to deliver all existing services to the Council and prioritising the needs of the fast growing city on a ‘Salford First’ principle. Services include property, regulatory planning, engineering infrastructure, and design and highway operations. Salford and the Greater Manchester area are currently undergoing a period of substantial regeneration and growth, and the partnership will play a key role in supporting the Council through this process.

The partnership extension provides a platform for the further growth of Urban Vision’s services into both the Council and new and existing clients UK-wide. The partnership currently delivers services to over 240 clients across both the public and private sectors and will continue to deliver additional revenue for Salford City Council, allowing it to invest in and protect frontline services.

Jim Taylor, Salford’s City Director, said: ‘Urban Vision has been a valuable partner since we first formed the alliance. The partnership extension will provide further efficiency gains and more savings for the Council, without affecting service quality and performance. Working with our joint venture partners, we are committed to supporting the unprecedented growth within the city through the continued provision of excellent services on a ‘Salford First’ principle.’

Andy Parker, Capita’s Chief Executive, said: ‘When Urban Vision was founded it was the first joint venture of its kind in the UK. Over the last ten years it has delivered some fantastic outcomes for the Council. This extension gives us the opportunity to build on that success – we look forward to three more years of excellent service delivery and close working with our joint venture partners.  Capita’s breadth of experience in local government means it is ideally positioned to meet the needs of councils across the Northern Powerhouse and rest of the UK. These needs are increasingly being driven by a ‘place-based’ agenda, ensuring that services create new opportunities around the development of the local economy, land, assets and skills. Urban Vision has already begun to incorporate elements of this agenda into its work in Salford and Greater Manchester, and this extension will allow us to put ‘place’ at the heart of everything the partnership does.’

Urban Vision news

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Devolution Deals- NAO report

The National Audit Office (NAO) has issued a report which calls for greater clarity on devolution deals, as the arrangements are untested (noting that housing and planning form part of the policy areas covered). 

The National Audit Office (NAO) writes:
Devolution deals to devolve power from central government to local areas in England offer opportunities to stimulate economic growth and reform public services for local users, but the arrangements are untested and government could do more to provide confidence that these deals will achieve the benefits intended, according to the National Audit Office.

Over the last 18 months, 10 devolution deals have been agreed, outlining the transfer of powers, funding and accountability for policies and functions previously undertaken by central government, in Greater Manchester, Cornwall, Sheffield City Region; the North East; Tees Valley; Liverpool City Region; the West Midlands, East Anglia; Greater Lincolnshire; and the West of England. They are the latest in a range of initiatives and programmes designed to support localism and decentralisation.

HM Treasury and the Cities and Local Growth Unit are responsible for managing the negotiation, agreement and implementation of devolution deals on behalf of central government as a whole. All of the deals include an agreement on devolved responsibility for substantial aspects of transport, business support and further education. Other policy areas included in some of the deals are housing and planning, employment support and health and social care.

The government has announced new additional investment funding of £246.5 million a year alongside the devolution deals announced so far. Over time, the government intends to combine this funding with a number of other funding streams into a ‘single pot’ to enable more local control over investment decisions, and has announced £2.86 billion of initial allocations over 5 years for the first 6 mayoral devolution deals.

Central government’s management approach to brokering devolution deals is designed to support its policy of localism. The government considers that devolution proposals should be led by local areas, and that central government’s role should be to respond to these proposals. As a result, the government has decided not to set out a clear statement of what it is trying to achieve through devolution deals.

According to the NAO, however, there are significant accountability implications arising from the deals which central government and local areas will need to develop and clarify. These include the details of how and when powers will be transferred to mayors and how they will be balanced against national parliamentary accountability. The deals agreed so far involve increasingly complex administrative and governance configurations.

And as devolution deals are new and experimental, good management and accountability both depend on appropriate and proportionate measures to understand their impact.

To improve the chances of success, and provide local areas and the public with greater clarity over the progression of devolution deals, central government should clarify the core purposes of devolution deals as well as who will be responsible and accountable for devolved services and functions, and should ensure it identifies and takes account of risks to devolution deals that arise from ongoing challenges to the financial sustainability of local public services.

View the press release

View the LGA response to the report

View an LGA guide to devolution


The report includes 10 main highlights, as follows:

  • All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies
  • Civic Voice Design Awards
  • Civic Survey
  • Griff Rhys Jones
  •  History of the Movement
  • Heritage Open Days
  • Manifesto: Localism for Real
  • Civic Awards and Marsh Awards
  • Sandys Lecture
  • Future plans


To read the full news release visit

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London’s Wellington Arch sculptures conserved

Sculptures at London’s Wellington Arch (Quadriga) are being cleaned and repaired by English Heritage. 

English Heritage writes:
The sculpture on top of Wellington Arch is being cleaned, repaired and re-waxed as part of a conservation programme in partnership with Cif. 

The sculpture on top of the Wellington Arch is called Quadriga. Designed by Adrian Jones, a former army veterinary captain who specialised in animal figures, it was added to the arch in 1912 and is Europe’s largest bronze sculpture. It depicts four horses representing the forces of chaos and war being calmed by the angel of peace.

Over the last century weather, air pollution and bird droppings have taken their toll on the masterpiece. Conservators have cleaned the sculpture of years of dirt, grease and grime, as well as treating corrosion, flaws, cracks and rain damage. The next phase of the project is to apply several coats of clear wax to protect the sculpture in the future.

Kate Mavor, English Heritage’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We’re giving one of London’s most dramatic sculptures the tender loving care it deserves. Our conservation work will mean that people can enjoy this great work of art for years to come.’

Wellington Arch is one of London’s best-known landmarks. Built in 1825-7 to commemorate the Duke of Wellington’s victories over Napoleon, it originally stood directly south of Piccadilly, facing the Hyde Park Screen. A controversial statue of the Duke was placed on top of the arch in 1846 but this was taken down in the 1880s when the arch was moved to allow for road widening.

The arch was moved to its present location in 1960-62 in another attempt to relieve traffic congestion. Today it houses exhibitions on the story of the arch and the Battle of Waterloo, which will remain open to the public during the conservation work.

The arch has been under English Heritage’s care since 1999. The conservation of the Quadriga sculpture is the first project in the ‘Making England Shine’ programme which is supported by Cif and will help to conserve and restore historic places to their former glory.

Olivier Juglair, Cif Global Head of Marketing said: ‘Cif’s social purpose is to restore the beauty of the man-made world. When things are cleaned to reveal their original beauty, they have a positive impact on the people around them; so we’re always looking for people and organisations that share our values to help us do it. Like Cif, English Heritage is restoring the nation’s most-loved buildings and landmarks for us all to enjoy!’

View the news release and photographs of the work

IHBC newsblogs on sculpture

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Arts Council England- Arts Impact Fund

Members who work with organisations who have a focus on arts and culture within England will be interested to learn of the first awards under the Arts Impact Fund, one of the awards includes a property related scheme for artists in London and another to assist with property improvements in a theatre in Lichfield. 

Arts Council England writes:
A national dance agency, an amateur dramatics group, and an artists’ studio space are the first three organisations to receive investment from the £7million Arts Impact Fund. 

We are hugely pleased to announce these first recipients of loans from the Arts Impact Fund. We know that social investment has proved to be successful in other sectors, such as health and energy, and we hope this unique fund can further demonstrate the role of different kinds of finance to strengthen the resilience of arts organisations.  Helen Goulden, executive director at Nesta and on behalf of the Arts Impact Fund

The Arts Impact Fund brings together public, private and philanthropic investment from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Nesta, with support from Arts Council England and additional funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.. It is the first to offer loan finance specifically to arts and cultural organisations across England for capital and non-capital projects that show a combination of social, artistic and financial return.

The Arts Impact Fund demonstrates demand for new and innovative sources of funding from organisations and follows publication of the government’s Culture White Paper, which observed that social investment can help grow the sector’s resilience and sustainability.

The first Arts Impact Fund investees are:

  • South East Dance – £350,000: The Brighton based dance agency will use the loan to bridge fundraising and allow work to start on its new hub The Dance Space. The new building will provide a rental income from its studio and office space, reducing the need for public funding and supporting its work with local artists and community development programme.
  • Titchfield Festival Theatre – £150,000: Run by volunteers the theatre group will use the funding to repair and improve the functionality of one of its two venues to grow its rental income and allow it to install solar panels. Excess energy will be sold back to the grid. The improvements will support the group’s theatre education programme and free ticketing to local schools.
  • Bow Arts Trust – £600,000: A London based organisation providing affordable studio space for artists and education programmes in local schools will use a loan from the Fund to purchase and develop property on its own balance sheet. The committee approved the offer of a credit facility to Bow Arts, allowing the organisation to approach property development opportunities with financing already in place.

The three organisations will document their artistic, social and financial impact quarterly for the duration of their loans, with the Fund sharing the findings from all of the investees. As a demonstration fund, there is the potential for the model to be scaled or replicated in other sectors.

The Arts Impact Fund is giving organisations the opportunity to show how social investment can have a positive impact on the sector.  The environment in which arts and cultural organisations are operating is changing and business models need to adapt to reflect this.  As part of our work to increase the resilience of art and culture in England, we want to support organisations in exploring alternative sources of non-grant income and this is an important step in the right direction. Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England

More than 60 organisations have already applied for the Fund, spanning theatre, visual arts and music among others sectors. The Arts Impact Fund hopes to support a total of 20-30 organisations and application enquiries are invited via the website – Organisations can apply for an unsecured loan ranging from £150,000 – £600,000 with an interest rate of between 4 and 7 per cent.

View the press release

Find out more about the Arts Impact Fund and the investees at

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