Panel for review of Welsh landscape designations announced

Details of the panel members who will be reviewing the designated landscapes of Wales have been announced this week by Carl Sargeant, the Minister for Natural Resources at the Welsh Government

The Welsh Government writes:
Professor Terry Marsden, Director of Cardiff University’s Sustainable Places Research Institute, will chair the independent panel which will carry out the review of the governance arrangements for Wales’ designated landscapes, Carl Sargeant, the Minister for Natural Resources has announced.  The other panel members will be John Lloyd Jones and Dr Ruth Williams.

Making the announcement, the Minister said,

‘Our designated landscapes are one of the key things that make Wales distinctive. Their landscapes, and the communities within them, are an important part of what makes Wales special environmentally, socially and culturally. In addition, they play a significant economic role with the qualities that make them special attracting many millions of visitors every year.  Given their importance, I want to ensure that our designated landscapes are best equipped to meet current and future challenges while building upon their internationally recognised status.

The review will consider whether the existing arrangements are best-placed to deliver these objectives and, if not, what changes should be made in order to achieve them.  The panel has a wealth of experience in this area and I know they will undertake a thorough review collating and weighing up the evidence and views that will be gathered over the coming months. I thank them for their commitment and look forward to reading their recommendations.’

The review will be carried out in two stages and at each stage the panel will call for evidence and seek views from stakeholders, communities within the designated landscapes and the wider general public. Evidence gathering activities including written submissions, face-to-face meetings, public workshops and an online consultation will be arranged.

Stage one will examine the designations themselves looking at the purposes of these landscapes and the merits of classifying Wales’ designated landscapes under one type of designation.

In light of stage one, stage two will consider the governance arrangements of designated landscapes. It will review governance and management arrangements, and consider the recommendations of the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery as part of this. It will take account of the Planning (Wales) Bill in respect of the future arrangements for planning in National Parks.

Chair of the Panel, Prof Terry Marsden said ‘I am very pleased to have been appointed Chair of this Panel along with members John Lloyd-Jones and Dr Ruth Williams. In conducting our work, and making our recommendations, it will be particularly important that we gather a variety of types of evidence from both stakeholders and members of the public so I urge all those with an interest to have their say.

‘Our protected landscapes have served the public well over at least two generations, but, as we are all aware, they now face new, more complex challenges; but also opportunities. We hope therefore that the review will be an opportunity to create a realistic vision and governance framework for Wales which will provide the basis for them to continue to deliver to the needs of our present and future generations.’ 

IHBC newsblogs on Welsh landscapes

Press release 

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HCA plans for 500 homes at former MoD barracks

The Homes and Commuities Agency (HCA) proposals for 500 homes and a construction skills training centre at a former barracks in Hampshire have been approved by councilors. 

HCA writes:
Proposals to bring hundreds of new homes, jobs and better road links to a former Ministry of Defence barracks in Whitehill and Bordon, Hampshire, have taken a big step forward after being backed by councillors.

East Hampshire District Council’s planning committee approved the Homes and Communities Agency’s outline planning application for 500 new and affordable homes and around 3 hectares of employment space at its Louisburg Barracks site.

The decision supports ambitions to build a new construction skills training centre as part of the development, to help create around 500 jobs and provide a huge economic boost for the local area. The application also included the first phase of a new relief road which enables access to the site and eases congestion around the town. Work is expected to start on the road by next spring and is supported by around £10 million in investment from the HCA.

This project is an early phase of local plans to build around 3,500 new homes and create up to 5,500 jobs as part of a sustainable new community in Whitehill and Bordon. It marks a step-change in efforts to create a new community with homes and jobs after the relocation of the Ministry of Defence training operations and around 800 of its staff from the town next year.

The HCA has already started its search for a development partner to take responsibility for working with local partners and residents to produce detailed proposals for the homes and employment space at Louisburg next year.

Kevin Bourner, HCA head of area, said:

‘This is another positive step towards bringing forward real and positive change in Whitehill and Bordon, with high quality new homes and jobs that the area needs. We have never underestimated the scale of the task needed to make the most of the opportunity afforded when the MoD leaves the area.  The progress we have made here demonstrates that we are taking the right steps towards achieving this ambition. There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done and we remain committed to bringing forward these exciting and transformational plans for the area.’

Cllr Richard Millard, East Hampshire District Council’s Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Commercial Contracts, said:

‘This is the second major planning application to be approved as part of the town’s regeneration and it shows just how far this project has progressed over the last few months. This scheme will radically transform the former Army barracks into a thriving community with 500 much-needed homes and jobs, and contribute significantly to a ‘step change’ in the lives of everyone in Whitehill and Bordon. It is a really exciting time for Whitehill and Bordon residents and I can’t wait to see work starting on the site.’

The latest approval from councillors comes after plans for 100 new homes and employment space at the former Quebec Barracks were backed by East Hampshire Council in July.

The approval is subject to completion of a legal agreement which will confirm delivery of contributions towards additional benefits including schools, sport, leisure and open space, transport and community facilities. A development partner for Louisburg will be selected by the HCA before the end of the year.  

HCA press release

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Waterways archive released online

Archival images and research materials relating to the waterways of the UK have been released online for the first time by the Canal and River Trust. 

The Canal and River Trust writes:
We’ve digitally published over 37,000 archive records and over 22,000 historic images from our archives for the first time ever. The £50,000 project is the first phase of a major project to open up public access to the national waterways collection. 

The Waterways Archive is housed at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port and is the largest archive of waterway-related materials in the country. This important collection, which holds a wide range of primary material relating to the history of Britain’s canals and inland waterways, will be available for the public to access online.

Margaret Harrison, collections manager, Canal & River Trust said: “We’re so excited to be able give the public online access to these images for the first time. The website includes over 20,000 archive images many of which help show the often hidden social history of the canals; the navigators who built them; the boating families that traded on them; and more recently the volunteers who campaigned to save them. These images sit alongside engineering plans, toll tickets, songs and maps amongst others.”

The archive images will be available for the public to purchase later in the year and we are already putting in place plans to digitise a further 15,000 images.  Wendy Capelle, head of museums and attractions, Canal & River Trust said: ‘The Canal & River Trust cares for an extraordinary treasure-trove of historic images, documents and artefacts that trace the story of the nation’s inland waterways as far back as the 17th century.  This project starts to throw some light on our wonderful collection and make it more accessible for students, historians and enthusiasts.’ 

Explore the archive

IHBC newsblogs on canals and waterways

IHBC newsblogs on archives

Press release

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£1.35m Creative Scotland funding boost for heritage projects

Creative Scotland have announced three awards for building works and public art in Dumfries, Campbeltown and work around the River Ness.

Creative Scotland writes:
Creative Scotland is pleased to confirm more than £1.35m Large Capital Funding, for buildings and a public art project, supporting three organisations to realise ambitious plans across Scotland.

Awards will go towards the creation of Scotland’s first centre for children’s literature inspired by JM Barrie’s Peter Pan in Dumfries and Galloway; and the restoration and upgrading of one of the UK’s oldest cinemas in Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute.  Funding will also go towards a major public art commission in the Highlands. New artworks situated along the banks of the River Ness will bring new perspective and profile to this inspiring Scottish location.  These awards are confirmation of Stage Two Large Capital Awards that will enable the projects to progress the delivery of their final plans. 

Philip Deverell, Director of Strategy at Creative Scotland, said: ‘The cultural infrastructure of Scotland will be boosted by these ambitious and inspiring projects which have been a number of years in fruition. Each is unique to their location, drawing on a range of inspirations whether historical, from the landscape or from the local community.  Each will help to ensure that artists and audiences, across Scotland, can continue to present, access and enjoy a range of artistic and creative experiences.

Campbeltown Community Business, Campbeltown Picture House, Argyll & Bute. one of the UK’s oldest cinemas, first opening its doors in 1913, will be restored and a second screen and modern café and foyer area will be created. The refurbishment will recognise and maintain the historic nature of the A listed auditorium protecting its cultural heritage whilst also enabling the cinema to increase the diversity of programming within this rural part of the West of Scotland. (Stage 2 award £400,000 – Development funding of £33,000 awarded in Sept 2012 and 2014) 

Jane Mayo, Chairman of Campbeltown Community Business, said:
‘The redeveloped Picture House will provide the local community and visitors with a magnificent historic cinema equipped to modern standards and complemented by new facilities. The programme of films and live relays of international quality cultural performances, together with activities based on the heritage of the building and the evolution of cinema, will allow The Picture House truly to become Kintyre’s cultural and entertainment hub.   The reopened cinema will provide employment and play an important part in the promotion of Kintyre as a unique visitor destination.’

The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust will create Scotland’s first centre for Children’s Literature and Story-telling, in Dumfries & Galloway. The project is inspired by J M Barrie and his world famous character Peter Pan. Barrie spent five years at school at Dumfries Academy from the ages of 13-18 and Moat Brae house and gardens were acknowledged by Barrie as being ‘the genesis’ for his classic tale. The award will enable the Trust to restore the house and the garden will be re-invented as JM Barrie’s Neverland. (Stage 2 award £687,500 – Development funding of £45,000 awarded in Sept 2012) 

Cathy Agnew, the Trust’s Project Director, said: ‘To have news of this level of arts investment into Dumfries at the start of our capital campaign, is fantastic. It is a great vote of confidence in the quality of our plans and designs to celebrate the Birthplace of Peter Pan.’

Four artists have been commissioned by Highland Council to create new public art pieces as part of the area’s Ness River Public Art Programme. Artists will create four new pieces of work along the riverbank that will form unique spaces where people can quietly experience new ways of interacting with the landscape. Artists selected so far for the project include Dress for the Weather and Annie Cattrell. This project will use the opportunity brought about by the River Ness flood prevention scheme to enhance the environment around the river bank.  (Stage 2 award £259,000 – Development funding of £46,000 awarded in Sept 2012) 

Councillor Ken Gowans, Chair of The Highland Council’s ICArts Working Group said: ‘This is a great opportunity for the City of Inverness and the Highlands to establish permanent high quality Public Art as an integral part of the major Flood Alleviation Scheme for the City currently underway and which will enhance everyone’s connections with the River Ness. We are most grateful for the major contribution made by Creative Scotland to this partnership project which also involves Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Inverness Common Good Fund and The Highland Council.’

Campbeltown Picture House

Moat Brae Peter Pan project

IHBC newsblogs on funding for heritage

Creative Scotland press release

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IHBC welcomes fine for failure to comply with enforcement notice

Cheltenham Magistrates Court have issued a fine against the owners of a listed barn who refused to comply with an enforcement notice to remove unauthorised solar panels.

Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court announced that a discounted fine would be given for the early guilty plea, but that the matter was regarded as especially serious as the parties concerned are estate agents and should have been more knowledgeable about the rules and regulations on planning.

Bob Kindred, IHBC’s Research Consultant said ‘This case illustrates how important it is that all and any professionals involved with buildings should fully understand the law with regard to historic building protection and the consequences and penalties of failing to adhere to its clear requirements.  This is particularly so where the defendants are listed building owners themselves and even more so when advising other owners and prospective purchasers in the conduct of their everyday business.’ 

The ‘Gloucestershire Echo’ has reported that the owners of an estate agents in Cheltenham have been fined for failure to comply with a listed building enforcement notice requiring the removal of solar panels from a listed barn which they own in Charlton Kings. 

IHBC newsblogs on enforcement

Gloucestershire Echo article

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IHBC North Branch ‘recession conservation’ event

IHBC North Event FlyerIHBC North Branch is holding a training event exploring the funding of conservation-led regeneration in a recession, offering a reduced rate for member bookings, which will take place on 24 October.

The ‘Partnership approaches to heritage at risk: community led conservation in austere times’ event is to be based in the North Pennines and will explore how local people and conservation professionals are working together to tackle a collection of sites including: a Grade II* listed watermill, the redundant Nenthead Methodist chapel and Alston Conservation Area (which is on the national Heritage At Risk register).  The day also includes a journey by vintage coach.

The day costs £25 for members and £35 for non members.

View more details on the IHBC Events Calendar and reserve your place via the IHBC North Branch’s page (click on Branch Meeting Papers)

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Scottish Parliament Briefing on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill

A parliamentary (SPiCE) briefing is now available which sets out the history and development of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill and the planned areas for reform.

The Scottish Parliament writes:
This Briefing summarises and analyses the key provisions in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, introduced in the Parliament on 11 June 2014. The Bill seeks to reform areas such as community planning, community right to buy land, involvement of communities in public service delivery and communities taking on public assets.

Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPiCE) briefing

Local Government and Regeneration Committee meeting (1/10/2014)

Community Empowerment Bill details

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Reminder: deadline for Europa Nostra awards approaching

The closing date for entries to the prestigious Europa Nostra awards is approaching, with a deadline for entries of 15 October.

Europa Nostra writes:
Eligible areas are:

  • Architectural Heritage: single buildings or groups of buildings in rural or urban setting;
  • Building additions or alterations, or new building projects within historic areas;
  • Industrial and engineering structures and sites;
  • Cultural landscapes: historic urban environments or townscapes, city or town squares and streetscapes;
  • Historic parks and gardens, larger areas of designed landscape or of cultural, environmental and/or agricultural significance;
  • Archaeological sites, including underwater archaeology;
  • Works of art and collections: collections of artistic and historic significance or old works of art;
  • Intangible cultural heritage as practices, representations, expressions, as well as the knowledge and skills that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage

IHBC newsblogs on Europa Nostra

View details of other awards, bursaries and scholarships on the IHBC awards page

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Hampshire development surrounding Grade II listed property approved

A proposal for 425 homes in Hampshire within the setting of a listed building has been upheld on appeal 

Planning Portal writes:
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has agreed with the inspector who held a recovered appeal over a 425-dwelling scheme on farmland surrounding Grade II-listed farm buildings in Hampshire and concluded the scheme should be allowed.

Developer Crudance Strategic Ltd had applied to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council for planning permission to build the residential development including the provision of 40 per cent affordable homes and six hectares of public open space on farmland at Chineham, near Basingstoke. The council failed to make a decision within the prescribed period.

The Secretary of State’s decision letter noted that the council was unable to demonstrate a deliverable five-year supply of housing land and that the site had been identified for new homes – albeit fewer than in the proposal –  in the emerging local plan review.

Pickles acknowledged the harm the proposals would cause to the setting of a Grade II-listed 17th and 18th century farm complex at the existing Razors Farm.

However, like the inspector, the Secretary of State concluded that the adverse impacts of the proposals “did not come close to significantly outweighing the benefits”.

Pickles gave “significant weight” to the provision of homes and a significant proportion of affordable housing in an area with a “significant and serious shortfall in housing” and the economic benefits, including construction jobs, New Homes Bonus funding and increased local spending, that would result from allowing the scheme. 

Search Planning Portal

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Eleven ‘right to build’ areas announced

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced the eleven areas across the country which will benefit from the new ‘right to build’ self build scheme.

DCLG writes:
Eleven areas across the country will benefit from the latest government-backed opportunity to help aspiring custom or self-builders get their projects off the ground, under plans announced today (30 September 2014) by Brandon Lewis.  The Housing Minister said these 11 areas would be at the forefront of the government’s efforts to help those looking to build their own homes turn their dreams into reality.

The Right to Build is the latest in a range of measures designed to help those looking to build their own home. These 11 chosen areas will establish and maintain a register of prospective custom and self-builders in the area and begin to identify shovel-ready sites for those on the register – becoming the first to offer local people the right to design and build their own home.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: ‘We’re determined to help anyone who aspires to own their own home – whether that’s buying on the open market through schemes like our Help to Buy, or to build.  That’s why from today, 11 areas across the country will be the first to offer a new Right to Build, one of a range of measures we’re taking to ensure anyone who wants to build their own home has the opportunity and help they need to do so.  This is one of a range of measures we’re taking to help aspiring homeowners, but also 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 – often at a lower cost than buying an existing property.

Ministers are introducing the Right to Build to help more people to do this: aspiring custom or self-builders will be able to register their interest with the council, who will then be required to offer suitable serviced plots for them that are for sale at market value.

This will not be a free-for-all – those looking to build will still need to go through the normal planning application process. But it will open up the opportunity to self-build beyond those with “grand designs” so even more people can realise their self-build ambitions.

These 11 areas announced today will be the first to offer this new right to their residents from today, and will each receive a share of £550 000 to do it. They are:

  • Cherwell District Council, who will receive £90,000 and are committed to deliver 2,000 custom-build homes over the next 10 years
  • South Cambridgeshire District Council, who will receive £50,000 and will bring forward at least 100 plots of land for custom builders and to begin selling land from January 2015
  • Teignbridge District Council, who will receive £100,000 and will be implementing a ground breaking ‘5% self-build’ policy in their newly adopted Local Plan so 5% of all new homes in the area are delivered by custom and self-builders
  • Shropshire Council, who will receive £10,200 to bring forward 6 hectares of land for self-builders by linking with Stoke Council and local social landlords to find suitable plots
  • Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, who will receive £15,000 to begin bringing land forward for sale in autumn 2014 by using formerly-developed council-owned land to support aspiring self-builders in the area
  • West Lindsey District Council, who will receive £5,000 to make self-build plots available on previously-developed public sector land in the area
  • Exmoor and Dartmoor National Park Authorities, who will receive £28,000 to explore how local self-builders can be helped while protecting important countryside
  • Pendle Borough Council, who will receive £46,000 to deliver self-build plots in the area and explore how this could be used to further deliver affordable homes
  • Sheffield City Council, who will receive just under £100,000 to further deliver over 800 self-build sites, and look to support groups planning their own custom builds
  • South Norfolk District Council, who will receive £25,000 to work with Saffron Housing Association in the area to deliver 40-60 custom build plots
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council, who will bring forward 72 hectares of land for local self-builders in the area

These 11 areas will now test the Right to Build to help ultimately increase the size of the custom and self-build sector.  This new measure is in line with proposals included in a Private Member’s Bill currently going through Parliament by MP for South Norfolk Richard Bacon, which would place a duty on local councils to keep a register of individuals who have expressed an interest in finding land for their self-build projects.  This first wave of areas will form part of a consultation on Right to Build. It will be decided whether the changes should be extended across the country later this year.   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 to bring delivery of up to 10,000 serviced plots – shovel-ready sites where a developer can be hired to build a home
  • making custom builders exempt from paying the community infrastructure levy
  • introducing a new £30 million Custom Build Homes Fund, which makes available repayable finance for larger multi-unit projects and grant funding for community self-builders
  • planning guidance which makes clear that councils should help custom-builders and establish demand in their area

UK Gov press release

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Conservatives pledges for housing at party conference

Several announcements on housing were made at the Conservative Party conference, including a pledge to help first time buyers and a move to relax building regulations for new build on brownfield land meeting mixed community social housing needs.

The BBC writes:
First-time buyers in England under the age of 40 could buy a house at 20% below the market rate if the Conservatives are re-elected, David Cameron has pledged.

The Conservative leader said a future government led by him would build 100,000 new homes for such people.  They would be built on brownfield land already identified for development and exempt from some taxes, he said.  He was speaking as the party prepares for its annual conference this weekend. 

IHBC newblogs on party conferences

BBC News article

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Opportunities for empty properties in Wales

The Welsh Government have issued a reminder that there is only six months left to apply for the ‘Open for Business’ programme, which presents opportunities for business rate relief upon bringing properties back into use. 

The Welsh Government writes:
The Open for Business rates relief scheme is funded by the Welsh Government and administered by every local authority in Wales. It provides up to 50% relief on business rates for a year for businesses that move into properties that have been empty for twelve months or longer.

Businesses only have six months to take advantage of this scheme as the cut off date is March 31 2015. Eligible applicants need to have taken occupation of their new premises before or by March 31 2015.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said:

‘ The Open for Business programme can provide a real financial boost for businesses thinking of moving into long term  vacant retail premises while also providing a safety net to help  small business start- ups in their  first year of trading.  The Welsh Government initiative  is specifically geared to support business in Wales’s town centres and shopping areas and forms part of a wider package of support to help develop vibrant and sustainable shopping areas in our cities, towns and villages in both urban and rural areas of Wales.

‘There is a six month window for businesses to apply for relief and I would encourage interested businesses and those thinking of starting a new business to contact their local authorities for more detailed information in order to take advantage of this rates reduction.’

The scheme is open to a wide range of businesses – those that are moving into smaller properties that were previously used for retail and that have been vacant for 12 months or more.  In addition businesses may also be eligible to apply for the Wales Retail Relief Scheme where retail, food and drink premises can apply for £1000 off their business rates bill.

Business should contact their local authority to apply for the rate relief or contact the Business Wales hotline for more information Tel 03000 60 3000.

Welsh Gov publications  and press release

IHBC newsblogs on vacant properties

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IHBC condemns impending loss of conservation services at Wirral Council

Port Sunlight
© Alison McCandlish

The IHBC has condemned the impending loss of conservation and related staff at Wirral, following reports of the impending demise of Wirral Council’s Conservation Service and the loss its Tree Officer due to financial stringencies.

Mike Brown, IHBC Chair, said: ‘Notwithstanding the shocking recent figures documenting the drastic fall in the number of conservation specialists in local authorities, inaction by the government and other statutory agencies seems to stem from a belief that there are no serious consequences.  No major landmarks have collapsed, no outstanding conservation areas have been desecrated. Evidence of degradation is merely ‘anecdotal’ but the process of disfigurement and decay is continuous and insidious.’

‘Deletion of conservation posts continues and it is clear that there will be serious consequences.  Any failure by Wirral Council to employ specialist advice to manage change at Port Sunlight, for example, one of the best conserved examples of progressive urban planning in the world, is surely an example of a threat of real substance to heritage assets that are of immense importance.  It marks a point at which the rot must stop and the government should step in to halt the loss of skilled conservation specialists.’

IHBC Policy Secretary David Kincaid said: ‘Port Sunlight , with more than 900 listed buildings, remains one of the best conserved examples of progressive urban planning in the world.  The idea of an authority with 900 listed buildings not having a skilled conservation officer would cause us huge concern on its own, let alone when those 900 listings are only a small part of the whole of the council’s heritage resource.’

‘The region has some of the most significant architecture in the UK, in particular that dating to Britain’s great Age of Empire – merchant palaces, neo-gothic churches, glorious industrial complexes and leafy red brick suburbs.  Much of these assets are difficult to conserve, with many being specialist structures that pushed evolving technology to its limits.’

‘In amongst these grand investments are remnants of the North West’s pre-industrial origins – such as the 17th century Limekiln cottage, tucked away behind Poulton’s massive sugar and oil silos.  Nonetheless, many historic assets in the Borough – for example the peerless suburbs of Rock Park and Harvey Lonsdale Elmes’ Redcliffe in New Brighton – now face a precarious and uncertain future.’

‘Highlighting the degenerating service standards that we are seeing across large parts of the country, it seems also that there is to be no specialist input into the new Listed Building Consent Order for Port Sunlight, which is not led by a conservation specialist.’

‘In this case, we can only offer our sympathies to the residents, the tourist industry there, and to the future generations that will experience at first hand the damage wrought by these knee-jerk responses.’

The Wirral Society has also highlighted its concern at the developing news.

Wirral Society article

Wirral News article

For examples of cases where councils have fallen foul of the law or the Ombudsman due to poor conservation management see IHBC Skills 

For IHBC’s statements on conservation skills, capacity and responsibilities in local authorities see IHBC Resources

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