2015 School delegates to get SPAB on ‘Lime’ and ‘Energy efficiency’

Norwich_BritonArmsThe IHBC is delighted to announce that the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) is to offer copies of their briefings on ‘Lime’ and ‘Energy efficiency in old buildings’ to delegates at the IHBC’s Norwich School (subject to availability), creating yet another huge incentive for members and colleagues to make time for CPD and networking on 19 June, while if you can’t get there, you can always download copies from the SPAB’s website.

IHBC Director Sean O’Reilly said: ‘This is a very generous gesture by the SPAB towards our 2015 School delegates, while offering such easy online access to these authoritative texts through the SPAB’s own website is an important public and charitable gesture that we are delighted to applaud.’

The SPAB writes:
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) is making their ‘Energy Efficiency in Old Buildings’ and ‘Lime’ Briefings available to IHBC School delegates, while digital copies are also available to download from the SPAB’s website.

The Briefings series is a summary of the Society’s recent work; each edition aims to offer cutting-edge information to help both homeowners and building professionals.

Old buildings are sustainable but they can benefit from sensitive and well-informed energy efficiency measures. The ‘Energy Efficiency in Old Buildings’ SPAB Briefing explores the methods, materials and debates that will ensure your old building continues to be sustainable.

An understanding of lime is fundamental to the repair and long-term protection of our historic buildings. The SPAB, in association with the Building Limes Forum, has produced a ‘Lime’ Briefing that explores the exciting role lime has to play in the future of our built environment.

Both briefings are edited by award winning writer and blogger, Roger Hunt. Contributors include some of the some of the leading practitioners in their fields. The SPAB Briefing series is available to download here: http://www.spab.org.uk/briefing/

For information on and links to boking the IHBC’s Annual School in Norwich on 18-21 June, see Norwich2015

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New NTS Chief Executive

The new Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), Simon Skinner, has been appointed, and starts his new role next week. 

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) writes:
We’re delighted to announce the appointment of our new Chief Executive, Simon Skinner, who will take up his post on 8 June 2015.

Simon, who holds an MBA from the University of Stirling, was previously Chief Executive of Aegon Ireland Plc, having served in a succession of senior leadership posts within the wider Aegon UK group of pension, insurance and investment businesses.

Earlier in his career he was also appointed to corporate services, management and marketing roles with the Automobile Association, Scottish Widows and Greater Glasgow Health Board.

In his new role he will lead Scotland’s largest, independent conservation charity, which has a membership in excess of 330,000.

The National Trust for Scotland cares for many of Scotland’s most treasured places including Glencoe, Fair Isle, Culzean Castle, Culross and the dual World Heritage site of St Kilda. Simon Skinner succeeds Kate Mavor, who departed from the Trust last month to become the Chief Executive of English Heritage.

Welcoming Simon, the National Trust for Scotland’s Chairman Sir Moir Lockhead OBE said:

‘Simon Skinner brings an absolute wealth of leadership experience to the Trust.  Simon will play a key role as we chart the charity’s future through development of a fresh long-term vision and strategy. He can put his expertise in change management and strategic thinking to immediate use as we continue to modernise and enhance the Trust for the good of its members and the nation.

‘Simon will build upon the firm foundations laid by his predecessor, Kate Mavor and, in particular, will focus upon setting and meeting targets for fundraising and revenue generation, which in turn will allow us to fulfil our conservation ambitions.

‘The Trust’s Board, volunteers and staff offer Simon a warm welcome.’

Simon Skinner said:  ‘I am truly looking forward to becoming the National Trust for Scotland’s new Chief Executive.  This is a wonderful opportunity for me to use my skills and experience to help conserve and protect some of the most treasured and evocative places in Scotland.

‘From the progress made in the last five years, I hope to further build a legacy of a vibrant and secure Trust that is fully engaged with its members and is even more effective in delivering its core purpose of conserving and promoting our heritage.

‘Over the last thirty years I have loved visiting the wonderful places the Trust cares for with my children, so I am acutely aware of the importance of encouraging new generations to enjoy them as much as we did.’ 

View the press release

BEFS news

IHBC newsblogs on NTS

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Calls for Local Authorities to release land for housing

Government in England has called on Local Authorities there to follow the action of central government and make efforts to release surplus land for housing development, along with following new regulations to publish property and asset registers

DCLG writes:
Communities Secretary Greg Clark will this week lead the charge for Whitehall departments to let go of surplus and redundant land and property for new homes – and for town halls to follow suit.

Speaking ahead of the first meeting of a dedicated ministerial Housing Taskforce, Mr Clark is urging departments to ‘loosen their grip’ on sites that are standing idle so they can be released for new housebuilding, with a clear target to release enough land for 150,000 homes by 2020 – equivalent to the number of homes in Wakefield.

He is also calling on England’s 326 councils to follow the government’s lead and look at the land assets they hold, and use some of those plots, particularly those on brownfield sites, to provide new homes for their communities.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: The chance to own your own home should be available to everyone who works hard and aspires to. That is what a government for working people is about – making sure people have the security they need to build a brighter future for them and their families.  The scale of our ambition is clear – to release enough surplus and redundant public sector land for 150,000 homes over the next 5 years.

I want to see departments going further and faster than before, starting right away, to loosen their grip on sites that are standing idle and to turn them over for house building.  Councils are significant landowners and town halls should be looking at their estate, particularly brownfield sites, and thinking about how they could make better use of their holdings by releasing land for new homes for their communities..

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: Housebuilding is at an 7-year high, with construction starts up 5% over the last year alone – we must maintain this momentum.  A key way we’re doing that is by looking again at the land government departments own, with enough land released over the last Parliament for 103,000 homes.

Over the next 5 years, we’re going to go further and faster – but where Whitehall is leading, town halls should follow, ensuring their land can be put to good use to deliver new homes across the country.

Housebuilding is an important part of the government’s long-term economic plan, with starts at their highest annual level since 2007.

During the taskforce meeting the Secretary of State will highlight how enough formerly-used, surplus public sector land has already been released for 103,000 homes – surpassing the Prime Minister’s original target set in 2011.  But over the next 5 years, the government will work to release enough land for a further 150,000 homes – equivalent to the same number of homes in Wakefield.  The Department for Communities and Local Government and its delivery agency, the Homes and Communities Agency, have already identified around 150 sites, enough for 14,000 new homes, which can be made ready for sale for house building – on top of the 146 sites they have already released in the last 5 years.

Mr Clark will urge ministers at the taskforce to go further and look again at the catalogue of sites they hold, ensuring every possible plot is being released for housebuilding.  But he will also argue that councils, as a significant landowner, should play their part.

The new local government transparency code means councils must publish their property and asset registers.

Government accounts show that in 2011, councils held £223 billion of assets – of which £108 billion was in land and buildings.

The Housing Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech, will require local authorities to establish and maintain a register of brownfield land suitable for housing development, which will include their own land.

Already some councils are releasing land, including:

  • Bristol city council, who are releasing land at the Ashton Gate Sidings for 200 new homes
  • Surrey county council, who are working with Spelthorne borough council and the Ministry of Justice to free up land for the provision of 300 new homes
  • Cheshire West and Chester council who are releasing sites in Ellesmere Port as part of plans to regenerate the town centre, including the potential removal of 15 acres of brownfield land in the town centre itself and 42 acres on the edge of town and provision of 1,880 new homes

But the Communities Secretary will argue that more councils should be releasing land for housing for the benefit of their local residents as well as those looking to move into their area.

View the press release

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First treasury savings announced

The Treasury has released information on planned savings by department, including £230 million in DCLG, £30 million in DCMS and £83 million in DEFRA.

HM Treasury writes:
The savings for 2015-16 announced today (Thursday 4 June) are being achieved through further efficiency savings, tighter control of budgets to drive underspends in year, and driving through asset sales.

The following table breaks down savings by department, excluding receipts from Royal Mail share sales.

Department Savings (£m)
Education non-schools 450
Department of Health non NHS 200
Transport incl. King’s Cross property 545
CLG Communities 230
Business, Innovation and Skills 450
Home Office 30
Justice 249
Defence 500
Foreign and Commonwealth Office 20
Energy and Climate Change 70
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 83
Culture, Media and Sport 30
Work and Pensions 105
HM Revenue and Customs 80
HM Treasury 7
Cabinet Office 17
Total 3,066

View the full press release

View an Institute of Fiscal studies analysis of the potential impacts of cuts

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EU: UK VAT rules on energy efficiency judged unlawful

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled this week that the UK ‘cannot apply, with respect to all housing, a reduced rate of VAT to the supply and installation of energy-saving materials, since that rate is reserved solely to transactions relating to social housing’ 

The Court of Justice of the European Union writes:
The UK applies a reduced rate of VAT to ‘energy-saving materials’ which are installed in housing or which are supplied for installation in housing. The Commission considers that, by so acting, the UK has failed to comply with the VAT before the Court of Justice.

According to the Commission, a reduced rate of VAT can be applied only to supplies of goods and services specified in Annex III to the directive. That annex refers to the ‘provision, construction, renovation and alteration of housing, as part of a social policy’ and to the ‘renovation and repairing of private dwellings’. The Commission considers that the supply and installation of ‘energy-saving materials’ in the housing sector do not fall into either of those two categories. Even if such a supply or installation were to be regarded as falling under the second category (‘renovation and repairing of private dwellings’), the Commission states that, under the actual provisions of the VAT Directive, a reduced rate of VAT cannot be applied to that category where the materials account for a significant part of the value of the service supplied.

The Commission states that the energy-saving materials covered by the UK legislation extend to materials which account for a significant part of the value of the service supplied.

In today’s judgment, the Court states that, with regard to the first of the two abovementioned categories, Annex III to the VAT Directive permits the application of a reduced rate of VAT solely to the provision, construction, renovation and alteration of housing which relate to social housing or to services supplied as part of a social policy. It follows that the VAT Directive precludes national measures which have the effect of applying the reduced rate of VAT to the provision, construction, renovation and alteration of any housing, irrespective of the social context in which such operations take place.

Further, the Court states that, while it is true, as asserted by the UK, that a policy of housing improvement may produce social effects, the extension of the scope of the reduced rate of VAT to all residential property cannot be described as essentially social. By providing for the application of a reduced rate of VAT to supplies of energy-saving materials and installation of such materials, irrespective of the housing concerned and with no differentiation among people living in that housing, the UK measures cannot be regarded as having been adopted for reasons of exclusively social interest or even for reasons of principally social interest.

Finally, the Court endorses the Commission’s argument with regard to the category of ‘renovation and repairing of private dwellings’.

View the press release

View the papers relating to the judgement

IHBC NewsBlogs on VAT

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Civic Voice calls for participants: ‘National Civic Day’ June 20

Civic Voice are calling for participation in this year’s Civic Day which is to be held on Saturday June 20, if you run community heritage projects (or would like to consider ways of doing this) why not submit an event to celebrate your work and other local achievements by community? 

Civic Voice have produced a leaflet highlighting 101 suggestions, some of the many relating to the conservation of heritage include:

  • Organise an architecture festival on local buildings
  • Invite architects, historians or owners to give building tours
  • Hold a public meeting about the future of the town
  • Organise an ‘open garden’ day
  • Ask for blue plaque nominations
  • Get a local business to sponsor some interpretation boards
  • Run a best shop front award
  • Produce a podcast on your heritage with local students
  • Invite nominations for a local list of important buildings
  • Record memories in an oral history project
  • Create an eyesore of the month award with a public vote
  • Identify important trees not yet protected
  • Give all residents a history of their conservation area
  • Start a stopped clock
  • Introduce a design award for the best new buildings 

Civic Voice writes:
Civic Day is a national celebration of civic pride. It is a day when communities across the country say ‘we care about where we live’.

In 2009 the Yorkshire Association of Civic Societies launched Civic Society Week, an annual event that encouraged civic societies to celebrate where they live. In 2011, fully supportive of this initiative, Civic Voice organised the first ever national Civic Day. This year it is being held on June 20th 2015 and it has the potential to become one of England’s most popular voluntary cultural events. The event is a unique opportunity to stimulate new interest and generate a renewed sense of civic pride for communities across the country.

Although the co-ordinating work is done by Civic Voice, what really makes this event happen is the fantastic effort of thousands of volunteers. These people give guided tours, put on exhibitions, arrange street parties, organise competitions and help visitors understand the area they live in just a little bit more.

The first ever Civic Day was held on June 25th, 2011 and involved over 200 community groups across England who put on over 350 events to celebrate where they live. 

Civic Day 2015 will be held on Saturday June 20th.

View the news about Civic Day

Submit an event

View the full list of 101 suggestions for events and civic engagement

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Prince Charles on heritage etc.: Letters released

Private correspondence between Prince Charles and government ministers has been released under freedom of information requests, and includes matters relating to the care and conservation of historic buildings. 

The BBC has an analysis of matters relating to historic buildings on it news site, revealing concerns over the ability of local authorities to act in the interest of conservation. 

View the BBC news analysis of the letters

View the press release and links to FOI requested correspondence

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Online viewing- European Heritage awards ceremony

Europa Nostra is to ‘livestream’ this year’s European Heritage awards ceremony on 11 June which means that you can watch the event unfold live online for free and get a preview of some exciting European heritage projects.

The event will be livestreamed at 18.00 CEST on 11 June  (5pm UK time).

Tune into this link on YouTube to view the video stream

More information on the European Heritage awards

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Edge report update – rethinking professionalism in BE and construction

Think Tank ‘Edge’ has released the results of a commission inquiry relating to the fields of the built environment and construction, highlighting the need for cross-industry collaboration and a forward thinking attitude to professionalism to avoid silo mentality. 

In 2014 the Edge invited Paul Morrell, Government Chief Construction Advisor from 2009-2012, to chair a Commission of Inquiry into the future of professionalism in the built environment/construction industry. The resulting report explores the key issues facing professionals and their institutions at this potential ‘moment for change’.

The Commission heard evidence from chief executives, presidents and other senior representatives from some of the key professional institutions in the construction industry including; CIBSE, CIOB, ICE, IStructE, LI, RAEng, RIBA, RICS, RTPI and SocEnv, as well as, in a collective capacity, the CIC and a range of other informed parties.

The report analyses some of the threats and pressures for change that the professional institutions and their members face, which ‘if not yet existential, are real and profound, and demand change ‘ and makes a series of recommendations to the institutions on actions on ‘which it is both necessary and realistic to collaborate ‘. These include:

  • Ethics and the public interest : Develop and standardise a national code of conduct/ethics across the built environment professions, building on shared experience in the UK and internationally.
  • Education and competence : The built environment institutions to commit to a cross disciplinary review of the silo nature of the education system
  • Research and a body of knowledge : Establish a joint think tank that could pool the resources of the Institutions to conduct research and develop policy for the industry – a King’s Fund for the built environment.
  • Collaboration on major challenges; including industry reform in the interests of a better offer to clients, climate change and building performance.

The Edge is a multi-disciplinary think tank that works on issues that impact on the built environment as a whole, including its professions and institutions, promoting collaboration.

View the press release

Find out more about the report and view summaries of issues raised

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PhD opportunities – SEAHA: Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA) is currently advertising a range of PhD opportunities, over three paths (heritage, industry and policy). 

The following opportunities are currently advertised:

  • ‘Nanoscale strategies for the consolidation of cellulose in cultural heritage’
  • ‘Samples to Complex Objects: Detecting Material Degradation in Plastic Artworks’
  • ‘Characterising marine archaeological iron degradation and the efficacy of treatments to date: worth a shot?’
  • ‘Strain modelling in historical tapestries’

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA) writes:
SEAHA will support your career along three typical paths. We have started recruitment for our 2015/2016 studentships, please continue to check the website over the coming weeks for new opportunities.  Information on how to apply can be found in the project adverts below. You may also wish to consider registering your interest by sending an email to the SEAHA Manager.

View the opportunities page

IHBC Director speaking at the 1st International SEAHA conference

About SEAHA

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Create Streets poll: historic housing forms preferred

An online survey by the independent built environment research organisation Create Streets has revealed an interesting insight into the types of housing preferred by design professionals and students.

The quick and visual survey was designed to assess which may be the preferred housing type of people from various backgrounds, by first presenting four visuals to choose from, then enquiring as to the respondent’s current place of residence (urban, rural or suburban) and profession.  Select summary interpretations of the results include:

  • Place trumps time
  • People are from Mars. Professionals are from Venus.
  • Architectural awards ARE a good indicator of popularity – but only if you invert them.
  • Style matters more than cars
  • Style matters more than precise heights.

View the poll analysis

Participate in the second poll

More information on Create Streets

IHBC NewsBlogs on housing

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IHBC Scotland Branch CPD + Networking event review

SC Branch CPD 280515The IHBC Scotland branch held a successful networking and CPD event in Linlithgow on 28 May.

Members were asked to submit presentation topics, and those who presented showcased the huge range of work which members are involved in, and the diversity of our membership.

Jane Jackson, IHBC Scotland Convenor said: ‘We were delighted to have such a great selection of topics and speakers for our first Scotland Branch CPD event in 2015. A really big thank you to all our presenters and participants who demonstrated both the diversity of skills and experience of those working in the historic environment, and the importance of partnership working to deliver successful projects.’

The Storify link compiles information about the event and the Tweets about all the goings on, including photographs from the presentations and networking.

Previous IHBC newsblog on this event 

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IHBC Gus Astley Student Award 2015: Your chance to showcase your work

GASA FlyerThe closing date for the IHBC’s 2015 Gus Astley Student Awards is fast approaching, so if you have presented coursework on a taught course in the last two years that you think merits wider recognition by us, be sure to submit it by 31 July. 

This year a cash prize of £500 is on offer to the winner, with smaller awards to any commended entries, alongside free places at the IHBC’s 2016 Annual School, valued at around £500, so awardees can receive their prizes in person at the School Dinner in June.

And if you want a taster of the 2016 School, why not book in on the 2015 School, coming up in Norwich.  There may even be bursaries available still for those on low wages. 

Some details of the IHBC Student Awards
The Student Award is presented for an outstanding item of taught-coursework accepted as part of either under-graduate or post-graduate courses ending in the academic years either to 31 July 2014 OR 31 July 2015.

The subject should relate to one aspect or more of ‘Built or Historic Environment Conservation’ including, for example, its evaluation (eg history, research or surveying), management (eg policy, finance, planning or operations such as site management), and/ or implementation (eg design, technology or architecture).

Submission for this award is ONLY available online, but if your coursework can’t be easily digitised, we’re happy to receive a suitable digital record of it, such as a film record, just as long as the record can be authenticated by your course tutor.

See a list of past winners 

Download a flier and further information

View more information on the awards and how to enter on the GASA website 

IHBC NewsBlogs on GASA

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Brecon Beacon barn conversion charges row

IHBC NewsBlog has received the following amendment to the NewsBlog of June 3rd 2015 in which it was reported that ‘Groups including the Country Landowners’ Association have expressed concern about the Authority’ s policy on barn conversions and a move to set a fee of £90,000 per conversion’.

IHBC Newsblog has received the following statement from the NPA:

‘The Supplementary Planning Guidance is not in draft or out for consultation as your article suggests it was accepted at the National Park Authority meeting on 22 May 2015.’

And including a press release as follows:
A spokeswoman for Brecon Beacons National Park Authority said: “There seems to be some misinterpretation of the purpose of the Supplementary Planning Guidance. The adopted policy of the National Park Authority, in line with Welsh Government Planning Policy, and found sound by PINs at examination in 2013, is to secure economic reuses of redundant barns, with some provision for the use of such buildings for affordable housing and/or rural enterprise dwellings where there is a need. The policy itself is explicitly restrictive of open market residential conversions. The newly adopted guidance provides some flexibility to this policy position by enabling applicants for open market residential conversions to meet the requirements of the policy by equivalent financial contribution. It also provides flexibility for farming families, allowing them to occupy barn conversions without the contribution to affordable housing until such time as the property might be sold on the open market, and is also flexible in the instances of saving buildings of local or national significance, for example Listed buildings.

“Supplementary planning guidance aims to ensure that we encourage rural regeneration and enable appropriate development in the countryside which allows farming businesses and developers to continue to bring forward appropriate planning applications. We know it might not be popular with everyone but we think it is a fair way of interpreting national policy. The Authority has reviewed the evidence in relation to the implementation of the adopted policy and is satisfied that the policy is bringing about its stated aims, that is, to encourage the reuse of barns for economic reuses. The number of applications are broadly equivalent to that prior to the adoption of the policy, however whereas the majority of these used to be for housing, they are now for economic uses, such as workshops for local crafts people or holiday lets. This indicates to us that the policy does not present a barrier to development and it’s an effective tool in providing economic regeneration within countryside locations. The Local Development Plan process is one of continuous review and accordingly, the evidence relating this policy position will be reviewed as part of the planned review which commences in 2017.”

View the consultation draft

Planning Portal Blog

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Applications open: Young Builder of the Year

Do you employ or know of a young person in the building trade who has outstanding skills? If so, why not nominate them for the Youthbuild young builder of the year (closing date 31 July)

Youthbuild writes:
Applications for the 2015 Young Builder of the Year Awards are now open. Could you be the winner and collect £1,500 worth of prizes?

The 16th Young Builder of the Year Awards celebrate the achievements of young people, who despite having to overcome a range of barriers have succeeded in training for and or gaining employment in the construction industry

We are seeking applications from two categories: –

  • 14 to 16 year olds still in education
  • 16 to 24 year olds in employment or training

Applications opened on Tuesday 5 May 2015.The closing date for applications is Friday 31 July 2015.  Judging will take place in August and 20 finalists will be chosen.

The finalists will be invited to the Awards Ceremony at the House of Commons on Thursday 15 October 2015, when the winners will be announced.

For 2015 there is a prize fund of £7,500 and all shortlisted finalists will receive an award.

  • The overall winner will receive up to £1,500 (including tools)
  • The runner up will receive up to £750 (including tools)
  • The winner of the 14 to 16 year old category will receive up to £750 (including tools) and their educational establishment will receive tools worth up to £500.

All finalists end the day with a trip on the London Eye.

We wish you all the very best with your application.

To find out how to apply, please download the document ‘About the 2015 Young Builder of the Year Awards’ and complete the appropriate application form.

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Victoria Pier update: Council to pursue demolition?

An application for Heritage Lottery funding to help support works to Victoria Pier has not been successful, and demolition previously reported in the IHBC NewsBlogs may be pursued by the Council, although a new application for funding is still possible. 

Conwy County Borough Council writes:
‘We realise the Trust will be disappointed by this decision. The HLF process is highly competitive and applicants face a tough contest for the limited funding.

We have had continued dialogue with the Trust and the Town Council, and would welcome talking to them further about proposals for legacy.

In January, the Council resolved that if Trust’s application was successful, requests made by the Trust, including in relation to the provision of Conwy County Borough Council funding and matters relating to ownership of the pier, would be considered.

As the application was unsuccessful, the Council’s application to demolish the pier will continue through the planning process.

HLF have clearly identified, as had Conwy County Borough Council, that the project is high-risk, due in large part to the absence of other confirmed financial support and the potential for increasing costs.’ 

See the previous NewsBlog

View the HLF statement

History of local authority statements on the pier

View the Victoria Pier campaign website

View the Council statement

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