DCLG: ‘Right to build’ consultation

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)has issued a new consultation on the use of ‘right to build’ approach for self builds across England, with a closing date of 19 December.

DCLG writes:
Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis today (24 October 2014) announced plans to support aspiring custom and self builders who want to build their own homes.

The minister published details of plans for a new Right to Build across, so that anyone who wants to build their own home will be able to turn to their council for help in finding a suitable plot of land.  This comes at the same time as a government supported Private Member’s Bill on plans for a Right to Build register is being taken forward through Parliament by the MP for South Norfolk Richard Bacon.

Eleven areas are already pioneering the Right to Build scheme, developing a register of prospective custom builders in the area and matching them up to shovel ready sites.  Mr Lewis said making custom build a more realistic option for more people was part of the government’s drive to support aspiring home owners, including a new generation of custom builders who see it as an alternative to buying an existing home.

The consultation seeks views from local planning authorities, the custom build sector and prospective custom builders about what they would like to see from the Right to Build. It looks at:

  • the local demand for custom build
  • meeting demand on the register with available land
  • how the Right to Build will work within the existing planning framework

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said: ‘Custom build should not be the preserve of a select few but a realistic opportunity for anyone who wants to build their own home and that’s why we’re supporting this Bill.  Eleven areas are already leading the way on the Right to Build. And our plans for this Right across England will help more people turn their ambitions into reality and clear the way for a new generation of custom builders.  This is just one of a range of measures we’re taking to help aspiring homeowners, and to get Britain building – and thanks to our efforts, house building levels are at their highest since 2007 and rising.’

‘House building is at the heart of the government’s long-term economic plan, including supporting people to design and build their own homes – which can often be at a lower cost than buying an existing property.  This will not be a free-for-all – those looking to build will still need to go through the normal planning application process.  This is one of a range of measures the government has introduced to help aspiring custom and self builders.  Others include:

  • a £150 million investment fund to support delivery of up to 10,000 serviced plots
  • making custom builders exempt from paying the community infrastructure levy and scaling back section 106 tariffs
  • introducing a £30 million Custom Build Homes Fund in October 2012, which has made available repayable finance for larger multi-unit projects and grant funding for community custom builders
  • planning guidance that asks local planning authorities to assess the demand for custom build and plan to meet this.’

UK Gov Consultation

IHBC newsblogs on self build

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SPG to make London the most accessible city in the world

New supplementary planning guidance (SPG) was issued by the Greater London Authority this week, aiming to build on the lessons learned from London 2012 in making accessibility at the heart of developments from the start, to make London the most accessible city in the world.

The Greater London Authority writes:
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has today (Tuesday, October 28) issued detailed planning advice to ensure that London becomes the most accessible city in the world for disabled people.

Aimed predominantly at planners and developers, the Accessible London Supplementary Planning Guidance builds on the lessons learnt from hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to ensure that all new developments in the capital are built to the very highest levels of accessibility.

London is reaping the rewards from hosting the best Olympic and Paralympic Games ever with billions of pounds of inward investment, supporting economic growth and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs.

The Games also demonstrated what can be achieved when inclusive design principles are embedded into a project from the outset. The park and venues were designed with accessibility enshrined into the thinking of the designers, not just to ensure that the Paralympic athletes could excel in their sport but enabling disabled spectators, staff, volunteers, the Olympic family, the press, and visitors to the park to enjoy and participate to the same extent as non-disabled people. In a recent survey, 81 per cent of people said the Games has had a positive impact on how disabled people are viewed by the British public.

London is already one of the most accessible cities in the world and earlier this month, the Mayor confirmed plans for a £75m fund to speed up the rate at which the London Underground network is made accessible for disabled Londoners and visitors to the capital.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were widely recognised as the most inclusive ever and one way we achieved that was through the design of the venues and the Park. I am determined that we use that experience to ensure that all new developments in London maintains this high level of accessibility – helping to change perceptions of disability and enabling disabled people to be part of our economy and fully contribute to our great city.’

The Mayor believes that people should be able to live and work in safe, healthy, supportive and inclusive neighbourhoods with which they are proud to identify. To achieve this, the Supplementary Planning Guidance advocates places that are designed to be inclusive regardless of age or disability and argues that they best promote positive community involvement. These so-called’ lifestyle neighbourhoods’ incorporate issues such as quality of transport, housing, public realm, social infrastructure and community facilities.  According to Transport for London, 22 per cent of non-disabled people regularly cycle while only nine per cent of disabled people do so. Currently, cycling accounts for only one per cent of all journeys amongst people aged 65 and older in the UK compared to 23 per cent in the Netherlands, 15 per cent in Denmark and 9 per cent in Germany.  The Supplementary Planning Guidance therefore highlights the need for inclusive cycling and offers guidance on what to consider.

Investment into London’s transport network is also bringing step free access to many rail stations, all buses and black cabs and the entire DLR. All of the 30 Crossrail stations in London will also be step-free. The new neighbourhoods now being built around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will create some of the most accessible and inclusive neighbourhoods in London, and the eight Olympic venues in the park will maintain their high level of accessibility for future users.

London.Gov.UK Guidance and press release

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30 days free access to ‘Planning Theory & Practice’

Taylor and Francis Online are offering 30 days free access to the special RTPI centenary issue of Planning Theory & Practice.

The special issue of the online journal is available for free if you register online using the token provided on the page, valid until 31 December.

Additional articles on ‘Future Proofing Society’ and ‘Thinking Spatially’ are also available.

Click here to view the offer and details of the RTPI Centenary Issue

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IHBC launches new-style Guidance Notes: GN 14.1 – ‘LPA duties in England’

IHBC Guidance Note coverThe Institute of Historic Building Conservation has launched the first of its new-style Guidance Notes to improve our support for practitioners, here highlighting statutory and related ‘Planning Authority duties in… conservation advice in England’ and including a formal recommendation for authorities to specify how they address their ‘statutory and corporate duties to conservation’. 

IHBC Membership Secretary Paul Butler said: ‘This is an excellent note that should be appreciated by Chief Planning Officers and conservation officers alike.  It offers an easily accessible summary of the duties of LPAs in conservation matters, and is especially valuable as it points out that, alongside the ‘carrot’ of sustainability, there is also a regulatory ‘stick’.  This will usually come from the Ombudsman, as our website resources on local authority skills record.  However even the Secretary of State has a clear and formal role if things are seen to be slipping, and although to date there has only been one case of such high-level intervention, perhaps this note will stimulate calls for more!’ 

IHBC Director and lead author on the note, Seán O’Reilly said: ‘Our programme of practice guidance and research notes has been a long time in gestation, but I’m delighted that we can offer this first new-style IHBC Guidance Note as yet another tool for our members and their colleagues – as well as ourselves – to help us all challenge some of the lazier presumptions about conservation practice and standards.’ 

IHBC’s consultant editor for the new programme of research and guidance ‘Notes’, Bob Kindred, said: ‘This is the first of a series of occasional IHBC Guidance Notes offering advice on topics that we consider crucial to the promotion of good built and historic environment conservation policy and practice.  I’m delighted to say that more such notes will be coming soon, so if there are any areas you think we need to explore under this programme do please let me know.’ 

Download the Guidance Note on LPA duties HERE

For work in progress on presenting the IHBC’s guidance and research see the website 

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IHBC, HTF & UVE win £5k peer-reviewed AHRC funds for volunteer skills

On 29 October, in a University of Oxford peer review-based initiative at Oxford’s Said Business School, the IHBC and project partners the Historic Towns Forum (HTF) and Urban Vision Enterprise (UVE) secured £5000 of academic research funding to help in identifying values added by skilled volunteers in heritage planning, one thread in a projected training programme for non-specialists in conservation and related planning processes.

The ‘Oxford Heritage Partnerships’ event was supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and saw pitches from a wide range of heritage-related projects in the region seeking funds.

IHBC Director Sean O’Reilly said: ‘This research funding success is great news for the IHBC and for our project partnership with the HTF and UVE, as well as for developing the project itself.  With the funding award based on evaluations by fellow practitioners and heritage interests from hugely diverse backgrounds – including museum and craft sectors as well as academic and community interests  – it offers a ringing endorsement of how practitioners can effectively guide research funding strategies when they need to work ‘outside the box’.’

‘It also establishes our project as a viable research area for the future.  This suggests a basis for much wider research into the pan-environmental damage caused by conservation skills deficits at all levels, from interested but inexperienced community bodies to under-funded or even non-functioning regulators.’

‘Credible conservation capacity is a critical issue for the IHBC, and increasingly we must look to advocacy based on the type of research proposed in Oxford if we are to successfully embed our interests in government agendas.’

HTF Director Noel James said: ‘The HTF has always been proactive in providing timely, topical training, and now that current legislation has provided an opportunity for communities to have their say in planning it’s clearly the right time to give communities the training they need and want.’

‘The grant will help us to develop a kitemarked model for community conservation training that will ensure coherent and supported skills across the planning process. Working closely with partners IHBC and UVE is a fantastic opportunity to do this.’

‘The project itself is aimed at developing a structured programme to support core conservation skills in volunteers and other non-specialists, including also mainstream built environment practitioners, from builders to engineers.’

‘It’s a challenging concept, as the added values reach across so many areas, from community rights to economic policies, but it’s great that its potential was so absolutely clear to many delegates on the day.’

For work in progress on presenting the IHBC’s research see the website 

For the HTF see the website

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Consultation update: Historic England Corporate Plan – 12 Nov

The draft Corporate Plan for Historic England, setting out its purpose, role and values, and including its strategic priorities for the period from 2015 to 2018, is out for consultation with a closing date of 12 November 2014.

English Heritage writes:
We want your views on all aspects of our draft Corporate Plan, including on how we might measure our success in achieving our objectives. Please give us your views using the short, three-question survey below. If you prefer to use a Word document to return your feedback to us, please use our feedback form.

This consultation is open until midnight on 12 November 2014. We expect to publish the final Corporate Plan in March 2015.

Access the survey

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HS last call: Shape our heritage management service – 4 Nov

Historic Scotland (HS) has an online survey inviting views on the performance and future of their heritage management service, with a deadline for responses of 4 November.

Heritage Management is the part of Historic Scotland that provides advice to planning authorities, developers and others on the potential impacts of development on the historic environment. They have responsibility for designating different types of structures and sites, such as listed buildings or scheduled monuments. They are also a statutory consultee for some consents and are the consenting body for applications for scheduled monument consent.

Through the survey, Historic Scotland hopes to answer questions on their future priorities, and what they can do better.

Access the survey

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1st ‘Farrell Review Urban Room’: Blackburn

The first urban room – a recommendation of the Farrell Review – is set to open as ‘Blackburn is Open’, a creative regeneration scheme funded by Arts Council England and backed by Blackburn with Darwen Council, makes Blackburn ‘the first town to follow Sir Terry’s lead when a month long pop-up Urban Room will be based in the Blackburn is Open shop’.

In line with the proposals, the pop-up room is intended to explore ‘the town centre’s past, present and future covering a range of topics from architecture and leisure, to the night-time economy and opportunities to utilise empty spaces.’

Blackburn is Open

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SAVE call for funds to preserve Wentworth Woodhouse

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has issued an urgent call for matching funds to enable the purchase and preservation of Wentworth Woodhouse, one of the grandest stately homes in Britain.

SAVE writes:
A race is on to raise funds to preserve Wentworth Woodhouse, one of the grandest stately homes in Britain, by placing it in a new charitable trust which will open it to the public.  So far £3.4m has been pledged towards an acquisition target of £7m. SAVE Britain’s Heritage which initiated the successful campaign to rescue Dumfries House is now urgently seeking a matching sum to enable the purchase to go ahead.

By agreement with the Newbold family, SAVE and its partners have helped initiate the new Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) to serve the following purposes:

  • To preserve the house and grounds on a long term sustainable basis with extensive public opening;
  • To find sustainable and sympathetic uses for those parts of the property not open to the public;
  • To raise funds both for acquisition and repairs and other essential works.

Wentworth Woodhouse is a marvel of English architecture, one of the largest and most impressive of all 18th century country houses, the seat of a great political dynasty and the home of a Prime Minister.  In size and splendour it matches Stowe, with an even more magnificent parade of state apartments and a landscape studded with temples, monuments and follies.

The proposal is that the magnificent Baroque and Palladian mansion, which in many European countries would be called a palace, and the 83 acres which run with it, are placed in a new charitable trust. The purpose of the trust would be to give this great building a secure future with regular access to the public and viable uses for substantial parts of the building to contribute to the costs of repair and maintenance.

In discussion with the Newbold family a target figure of £7 million for acquisition was set. This comprises everything purchased by the Newbold family – buildings, land and protected contents, including statues in the house. As of now, SAVE and the WWPT have raised pledges of £3.4 million and are continuing to raise further funds to achieve acquisition.  These pledges come from the Monument Trust, Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement, the J Paul Getty Jr Charitable Trust, and the Art Fund.

The SAVE plan has been drawn up by Marcus Binney, SAVE’s Executive President, with leading country house experts and entrepreneurs, including Mr Kit Martin, well known for his country house rescues and transformations, Roger Tempest who has pioneered the use of estate buildings for office purposes at Broughton Hall in North Yorkshire, Martin Drury former Director-General of the National Trust, and Merlin Waterson former Regional Director of the National Trust.  Financial advice has come from Timothy Cooke, who is Co-Chairman of the commemorations of the 200th anniversary of Waterloo

The National Trust has agreed to help the new WWPT by offering to take on responsibility for the public opening of the magnificent interiors of Wentworth Woodhouse as well as its gardens. A detailed business plan commissioned by the National Trust has shown projected income and expenditure for the WWPT over twenty years. This has been prepared by SQW Consultants and their forecasts show the WWPT will come into a surplus in the sixth year of operation.

Detailed figures for the cost of repairs and associated building works have been prepared with the help of architects Purcell Miller Tritton and Ian Rex Proctor and Partners, construction consultants. Detailed surveys of particular problem areas have also been carried out for English Heritage, notably the roof of the east portico and the ceiling of the Marble Saloon. These show that a sum of £42 million needs to be spent on the fabric of the house over the next twelve to fifteen years to meet the backlog of repairs and subsidence damage. While this is a large sum, it is comparable to the sums needed for other houses of this scale such as Stowe or for cathedral restorations.

Wentworth Woodhouse is currently subject to a major claim against the Coal Authority for subsidence damage. The Claim has been lodged by the Newbold family and the new Trust is ready and willing to take over the claim on acquisition, using the Newbold family’s team of specialist advisors and lawyers who have carried out an enormous amount of survey work on the damage.

In addition the WWPT has agreed, subject to contract, to allow Mr and Mrs Clifford Newbold to remain in part of the house for their lifetimes.

For more information please contact Marcus Binney on 07973 802648 or Mike Fox at SAVE on 0207 253 3500/ mike.fox@savebritainsheritage.org or Julie Kenny on 01709 535218.

For SAVE see www.savebritainsheritage.org and news

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Historic Scotland/RCAHMS survey: closes 7 Nov

Historic Scotland and RCAHMS have issued a reminder that the stakeholder opinion survey closes on November 7.

HS/RCAHMS write:
This short survey is designed to gauge your current opinion of Historic Scotland and RCAHMS. We are keen to find out your views on our functions and services, as well as how effectively we deliver them. The aim is to obtain feedback from as many stakeholders as possible, covering every part of Scotland and all types of organisations involved in the historic environment. We will be carrying out a follow-up survey towards the end of 2016 to see how your views may have changed once Historic Environment Scotland has been established.

By taking a few minutes to complete the questionnaire you can ensure that your views are taken into account.

To take part, simply click HERE and complete the questionnaire by 07/11/14.

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CADW heritage tourism project

A new report by CADW detailing its heritage tourism project has been released this week, outlining the value and contribution of heritage tourism to the Welsh economy.

CADW writes:
A Cadw-led partnership project aimed at maximising the contribution of heritage tourism to the Welsh economy looks set to provide economic benefits of up to £19m a year according to a new report.  The findings have been revealed following an evaluation of Cadw’s Heritage Tourism Project (HTP) that has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

According to research by Cardiff University’s Business School’s Welsh Economy Research Unit, the economic impacts attributable to tourists visiting sites which have benefitted from the project could equate to up to £19m per year, in turn supporting more than 1,000 full-time jobs.  The Heritage Tourism Project, which launched in 2009, has supported more than 40 historic sites across Wales, working in partnership with various heritage bodies to deliver improvements to interpretation, physical access and even involving the local arts communities in bringing the sites to life for visitors.

The aim of HTP is to increase the number, length and value of visits to heritage sites in Wales, opening up Wales’s heritage to a wider audience by making it more enjoyable both for visitors and residents.  The research states that the economic impacts attributable to the Heritage Tourism Project will take place largely away from the sites, benefitting shops, restaurants and accommodation providers in local towns where visitors extend their stay.

The research also estimated that there was around £15.2m of capital spending, related to construction activity as a result of HTP supported projects, and this supported more than 260 full time jobs in Wales during construction.

The Heritage Tourism Project runs until December 2014 but the majority of supported work across Welsh heritage sites is now complete with many attractions already seeing an impact in terms of increased visitor figures.  Blaenavon Ironworks has seen a 14.2% increase in visitors since the majority of its HTP work was completed in September 2013 and Conwy Castle has seen an 8.3% increase in visitors since its HTP work was completed in July 2012.  Llandudno Museum, Great Orme Country Park Visitor Centre and the Great Orme Ancient Mines which have also received funding for improvements through the Our Heritage Scheme within the HTP have also seen one of their busiest summers on record, pulling in more than 86,000 visitors collectively.

Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism said: ‘These findings yet again show how Wales’s historic environment is an asset to the country’s economy.  Our heritage generates an estimated £840 million each year. A recent Visit Wales study revealed the top 20 visited sites in Wales, and more than half of these were historic attractions.  Wales’s diverse historic environment is a huge pull for tourists, and it is as important as ever that we look to maximise the very real opportunities that heritage can offer to strengthen our economy.’

Professor Max Munday of the Welsh Economy Research Unit at Cardiff Business School added: ‘These findings give us a valuable insight into the return on investment we get from improving our historical assets in Wales.  Having been involved in the tourism sector for some time it was fascinating to see how different sites can have different impacts on the economy.  This was a considerable project that involved extensive survey work, but the work should be seen as ongoing when it comes to improving Wales’s historical assets.’

The Heritage Tourism Project has led to the installation of new interpretation at the World Heritage Site of Blaenavon Ironworks including signage, a children’s trail and audio-visual displays.  An immersive sound and light experience has also been developed in the casting house to explain the iron-making process that made Blaenavon famous.  The project has also seen the introduction of a model of the ironworks which enables visitors to understand the scale of the ironworks when at peak production.  The project also included works to footpaths, landscaping and fencing that has enabled improved visitor access and ‘flow’ around the historic site.  HTP funding has also seen four cottages used for the popular BBC Coal House series re-dressed with authentic furniture and fittings to depict workers’ cottages through the 20th century.  Built in 1788, the site is the world’s best preserved 18th century ironworks.  The town of Blaenavon was granted World Heritage status in 2000. 

The Heritage Tourism Project has transformed the visitor experience at Conwy Castle.  The visitor centre has been completely refurbished and new interpretation offers visitors a better explanation of the stories of Edward I, the Welsh princes and Owain Glynd?r– linking the castle closely to the wider historic environment and the walled town.  It includes the work of five Wales based artists who responded to the history of the castle in their own voices. This innovative approach, combined with information boards and a children’s trail enables all visitors to experience the World Heritage Site through engaging and surprising discoveries.  The castle was originally built for Edward I, by Master James of St George between 1277 and 1307.  Conwy, Beaumaris Caernarfon and Harlech castles, along with the fortifications surrounding the towns of Conwy and Caernarfon have been collectively declared a World Heritage Site. 

The Heritage Tourism Project funded the Princes of Gwynedd Heritage Tourism Project which interpreted 30 iconic heritage sites linked to the Welsh princes allowing visitors to follow in their footsteps for the first time.  The Princes of Gwynedd project, led by Conwy County Borough Council in partnership with Gwynedd Council, Snowdonia National Park Authority and the National Trust, saw the creation of a new website, exhibitions and a series of walking, cycling and transport trails that aimed to attract additional visitors to Snowdonia.

IHBC newsblogs on heritage tourism

Cadw report and press release

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Consultation on HS ‘managing change in the HE': 7 Nov

The Historic Scotland (HS) Managing Change in the Historic Environment Guidance Notes (MCGN) are currently under review, with the consultation closing on 7 November.

The four notes under review are:

  • Setting
  • Restoring castles and towerhouses
  • Microrenewables
  • Fire safety management

Draft notes and to comment

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Have a historic Halloween- spooky goings on, online and in real life!

Get into the spirit of a historic Halloween with themed events at historic buildings or perhaps if you cannot get to visit these in person why not try a little online ghost watching?

Ghost cams:

Halloween related events in historic buildings:

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