RTPI on ‘A Great North Plan’, and a call for evidence

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) have been hosting events designed to explore the arguments around the need for a spatial strategy for the North of England, leading up to a ‘Northern Summit’ in 2016, together with a call for evidence for everyone who has an interest in this matter to submit by 30 September. 

The RTPI writes:
Some 200 business and public policy leaders have attended roundtable events in Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle to discuss what a strategic spatial planning framework for the north of England should be like, what its scope should be, and how it should be developed.

Roundtable events Manchester and Hull will continue to place over the summer, which will culminate in a ‘Northern Summit’ early next year.  The Northern Summit project is spearheaded by the RTPI in partnership with IPPR North to get the momentum behind developing the most appropriate approach to developing a strategic spatial planning framework across the North of England.

Bob Wolfe, Chair of the Northern Summit Project Board, discusses the origins of the project and shares his impressions on some of the ideas emerging from the roundtables in a blog.

From now to 30 September 2015, we are calling for evidence. Businesses, planners, academics, local councils, civil society groups – indeed, anyone living or working in the north of England – is invited to share their thoughts about whether we need a Great North Plan, and their ideas about what it should look like.

For further information visit the #GreatNorthPlan website.

Submissions and inquiries should be sent by email to infrastructure@ippr.org. 

View the RTPI press release

See more information on the ‘Great North Plan’ at greatnorthplan.com

View the RTPI blog on the ‘evolution of devolution’

View the call for evidence on the Institute for Public Policy Research website

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on RTPI on ‘A Great North Plan’, and a call for evidence

A Community Right to Beauty: includes VAT relief call

Households with incomes higher than £45, 000 a year (1) are the most able to access beautiful places and green spaces, according to a new report from the independent think tank ResPublica, which includes a call for VAT relief on refurbishment costs, where a community calls for or takes a lead on improvement to a building.

‘A Community Right to Beauty’ is based on a poll of 2,164 people on their access to beautiful surroundings.

ResPublica writes:
Authors say the law must be changed to end this injustice.

Caroline Julian, report co-author and Deputy Director of ResPublica, says being surrounded by beauty should be a right for all not just for the privileged: ‘Our public poll is damning. It shows we are singularly failing the poor. A staggeringly high household income, more than £10, 000 above the national average (2), gives you better access to beautiful surroundings.’

‘This inequality has a significant impact on health and wellbeing as well as the way people behave within communities. Those who are surrounded by beauty are more likely to take care of it, become more involved in their communities. Uglier places see higher levels of anti-social behaviour, crime and more litter. We have to create a system by which we all have a Right to Beauty.’

Kevin McCloud MBE, designer, writer and presenter of Channel 4’s ‘Grand Designs’, commented: ‘We all of us instinctively recognise when someone, something or somewhere is beautiful. And we all have a right to it. Admittedly we’re all a little clumsy in our use of the language of beauty in the 21st century, but if we are to preserve such beauty as we have in our natural and built environments and if we are to see yet more of it in those places (and by the same token, see less ugliness) then we must clamorously shout out for it.’

‘We should demand more beauty in our parks, streets and housing because it is good for our souls and good for our health and our well-being.  This landmark report sets out how we can achieve that: by tidying up what we have, by democratising the Right to Beauty, safeguarding the cherished and valued of the everyday and by demanding that the word Beauty, and all that it magically means, are equitably woven through our planning system, our architecture and our built world.’

The report also found that less than half of those living in social rented housing, 45%, felt they had the same access to beauty.

Less litter was most commonly mentioned as the most important factor in making an area beautiful (36%). Less crime, vandalism and graffiti was mentioned by 35% and 23% said fewer vacant and run-down buildings was the most important factor in making their local area more beautiful.

To remedy inequalities, authors make a series of recommendations including:

Power to the people:

* The public should have the power to choose their preferred design and developer. Communities should be consulted on proposed new developments, a range of options should be subject to a local vote.

*Citizens’ Juries would oversee problematic developments. Residents supported by experts working within a public budget would make decisions that the local authority would be bound by.

*A Community Right to Reclaim land should be extended to buildings and other local assets to enable the public to challenge authorities to improve derelict or unsightly developments.

Financial incentives:

*To incentivise visual improvements that communities want there should be Capital Gains Tax relief for developers.

*VAT relief on refurbishment costs, where a community calls for or takes a lead on improvement to a building. For buildings listed as ‘Local Beauty Assets’ (see below) the relief should be greater.

*A system similar to Business Rates Retention, which helps economic growth, should be used to recognise the value a beautiful development adds to an area.

New areas of beauty:

*Areas of Outstanding Urban Beauty: Similar to Conservation Areas these would recognise beauty that isn’t just historic or green.

*Buildings, areas and spaces with local importance should be labelled ‘Local Beauty Assets’ and preserved and maintained.

*Areas without much visual appeal should be designated Community Improvement Districts. In these areas communities would be empowered to demand policies to tackle problems such as Litter Abatement Orders where litter is an issue.

Read the press release

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on A Community Right to Beauty: includes VAT relief call

Beagle-breeding facility allowed on appeal by Clark

Communities Secretary Greg Clark has allowed on appeal controversial proposals for a facility where beagles will be bred for use in animal experiments at Grimston near Hull originally refused by East Riding of Yorkshire Council. The scheme involves listed building consent.

The inspector who held the recovered appeal had recommended that listed building consent should be allowed but argued that full planning permission for the erection of a new building and the demolition of existing buildings at the site should not be permitted.

Clark concluded that the scheme should be allowed as it was broadly in line with development plan policies and the harm to heritage assets would be of a low order.

View the decision

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on Beagle-breeding facility allowed on appeal by Clark

South East Wales Councils join to create City Deal

Ten Councils in South East Wales have agreed to join together to ensure the delivery of City Deal.

Monmouthshire County Council writes:
Ten south east Wales local authorities have formally agreed to join forces to help deliver a City Deal for the Capital City Region.

The commitment to work together is a major step forward in the bid to bring a City Deal to the region.

A £500,000 fund had been created to help develop the bid with each of the councils committing cash to the project.

In partnership with the Welsh Government, the ten councils will begin work to develop a proposal for the UK Government for investment in the city-region economy to provide jobs and increase economic output.

The City Deal aims to attract significant levels of new funding for South East Wales to support economic development.  Elsewhere, City Deals have provided significant amounts of new funding to support infrastructure development for city-regions across the UK.

Monthly meetings have been scheduled for all leaders, with Welsh Government officials in attendance, to develop the proposal, while officials have established a working group across all ten authorities and the Welsh Government to develop the detailed business case for the City Deal.

Councillor Peter Fox, Leader of Monmouthshire County Council said: ‘A City Deal for the Cardiff Capital Region will do so much to create a successful and vibrant economic future for south east Wales.  It would unlock huge opportunities for the valley communities, our cities and rural counties like Monmouthshire.  I look forward to working closely with colleague leaders and other partners to make this a reality.’

Councillor Bob Bright, Leader of Newport City Council, added: ‘By working together, the South East Wales councils can make a real difference to the economy of the city-region and benefit all those who live and work here.  Collaboration will help us realise the potential of a strong and united region.’

View the press release

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on South East Wales Councils join to create City Deal

Candy-cane house owner loses planning policy challenge

The property developer who painted red and white stripes on her townhouse has lost her latest planning battle. 

The BBC writes:
Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring, 71, had asked a High Court judge to challenge planning policy which blocked her plans to build a two-storey basement.

However, the judge said the Kensington and Chelsea council’s decision was reasonable and dismissed the case.

She was accused of painting the house to ‘get her own back’ on neighbours who objected to her property plans.

Ms Lisle-Mainwaring had wanted to demolish her Kensington property and replace it with a new dwelling and two-storey basement.

At the High Court she joined forces with the construction company Force Foundations to challenge the council’s policy of restricting basements to one storey.

Paul Brown QC told Mrs Justice Lang earlier this month the policy was ‘fundamentally flawed’.

He added the decision to adopt it in January was taken without due regard to relevant planning issues and without consideration being given to whether there was ‘a reasonable alternative’. 

BBC News report

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on Candy-cane house owner loses planning policy challenge

GHS+AGT=Gardens Trust: A new (merged) voice for historic parks and gardens

The Garden History Society (GHS) and the Association of Garden Trusts (AGT) have merged to form a new body entitled the Gardens Trust. 

The Gardens Trust writes:
Today, at their respective AGMs in Newcastle, the Garden History Society (GHS) and the Association of Garden Trusts (AGT) voted to merge to become The Gardens Trust, a new body created to harness the strengths of the two existing organisations.

The main aims of the merger of the GHS and AGT are:

  • To speak with a more powerful voice for the protection of parks, gardens and designed landscape;
  • To play a key garden conservation role in the planning system as a statutory consultee;
  • To provide support to strengthen the local activity of the County and Country Gardens Trusts;
  • To be an internationally regarded centre of excellence in the study of garden history;
  • To live within the means of the merged organisation and be financially sustainable over the long term.

The first AGM of The Gardens Trust elected a slate of 12 members of the Board, and a new chairman, Dr. James Bartos and a new Vice Chairman, Michael Dawson, were elected by the Board. Dominic Cole OBE, formerly chairman of the GHS, was elected President. Five sub-committees were established to reflect the areas of activity and interest of the new organisation, covering conservation, events, publications, membership and administration and finance.

The creation of The Gardens Trust is the culmination of some five years’ work and discussion which also involved Parks and Gardens UK (the gardens database and website) and the Garden Museum. The move is fully supported by Historic England. The impetus for the merger was a sense that both the GHS and the AGT would be much stronger if working together, especially in terms of conservation activity. To that end, the Historic Landscape Project was formed in 2010 by the AGT to begin the process of devolving much of the responsibility for the conservation of historic landscapes to the County Gardens Trusts (CGTs). A small team of conservation officers travelled around Britain with the objective of establishing or consolidating conservation activity within different CGTs — an initiative that has proved extremely successful. The intention is that the CGTs will over time take on more of the conservation work within their regions, with the central Gardens Trust conservation team concentrating on larger or more complex cases or national policy.

Dr. James Bartos, the first Chairman of The Gardens Trust, was formerly a member of Council of the GHS and of its finance and general purposes committee. ‘I am extremely pleased that both memberships have voted in favour of the formation of The Gardens Trust,’ he said. ‘This is something we have been working on for some time, and I believe it will transform our ability to make a difference when it comes to the protection, conservation and understanding of our gardens and designed landscapes, helping to ensure their continued enjoyment into the future.’

Dominic Cole OBE, first President of The Gardens Trust, became Chairman of the GHS in 2002. ‘I’m delighted at this outcome,’ he said. ‘I never really understood why we had two organisations doing much the same thing. Now the combined memberships of all the CGTs — all that knowledge and enthusiasm — can be merged with the specialist expertise and academic clout of the old GHS to become much more effective not just in conservation but in actively campaigning to protect our designed landscapes. I believe that this merger is a great opportunity for both organisations.’

The Garden History Society was founded in 1965 and celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. The GHS put garden history ‘on the map’ as an academic subject and almost immediately began to publish the twice- yearly academic journal Garden History, which remains the leading forum for scholarly work in this area. In addition it has pursued an active conservation and campaigning role, with a small professional team of conservation officers employed to comment on developments affecting important gardens and designed landscapes. Since 1995 the GHS has been the statutory consultee for designed landscapes and is therefore informed of any proposals which may affect places listed on Historic England’s Register of historic parks and gardens (graded I, II and II*). All of these existing functions of the GHS will continue to be an important part of the role and remit of the new Gardens Trust, which inherits the charity number of the old GHS. Current members of the GHS, who become individual members of The Gardens Trust, stand at about 1,200.

The Association of Gardens Trusts was established in 1993 as a central ‘umbrella organisation’ intended to promote the care, conservation and enjoyment of historic designed gardens, landscapes and parks and to provide a strategic focus and training for the many CGTs established up and down Britain (currently 36). It publishes an annual Yearbook as a digest of the activities of the CGTs (which is to be continued) and organises study days and an annual conference. Each CGT is a CGT member of the new Gardens Trust in the same way that they were each a member of the AGT. Individual members of CGTs still belong to their respective county organisations, paying their annual subscriptions directly to them. In addition, individual members have the option of joining The Gardens Trust, to include a subscription to the journal Garden History and the new Gardens Trust newsletter, incorporating the opportunity to book for study days, foreign trips, lectures and seminars. The total combined current membership of all the CGTs currently stands at about 7,000.

View the press release

IHBC NewsBlogs on historic parks and gardens 

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on GHS+AGT=Gardens Trust: A new (merged) voice for historic parks and gardens

SG refuse windfarm in Cairngorms National Park

The Scottish Government (SG) has refused a proposal for 31 wind turbines in the Cairngorms National Park, considering the effects on natural and cultural heritage.

The Scottish Government writes:
Ministers have refused consent for the proposed 31-turbine wind farm at Allt Duine near Kincraig.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney concluded the plan does not represent sustainable development as it would result in significant and unacceptable landscape and visual impacts on the Cairngorms National Park, an area of national importance for its natural and cultural heritage, and on wild land.

The decision follows a public local inquiry and Scottish Government consultations on the potential impacts of the wind farm on the Cairngorms National Park and on the implications of the development on new planning policies.

Mr Swinney said:‘The Scottish Government’s policy on wind farms strikes a careful balance between maximising Scotland’s huge green energy potential and protecting some of our most scenic landscape and wild areas. We have been clear that wind farms can only be built in the right places and Scottish Planning Policy sets out rigorous steps to ensure wind farms are sited appropriately and sensitively.

‘I have considered the Allt Duine application fully and have refused permission as the proposal would have a significant and unacceptable landscape and visual impacts in the local area, including on the Cairngorms National Park and on a wild land area.

‘The Scottish Government remains fully committed to renewables and to achieving our target of 100 per cent of our electricity demand coming from renewables by 2020.’

View the press release

IHBC newsblogs on wind turbine proposals

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on SG refuse windfarm in Cairngorms National Park

Minecraft Northern Ireland: virtual historic landmarks

Players of the popular computer construction game Minecraft will now be able to build within a virtual Northern Ireland, which can be used as an educational tool to explore geographical data and historical landmarks such as the Giant’s Causeway.

The Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel writes:
Finance Minister Arlene Foster MLA has today launched a Minecraft NI map meaning, for the first time, the game can be played in a 3D virtual map of Northern Ireland.

Minecraft is one of the most popular video games in history, with over 100 million downloads since its launch in 2009. In the game, players build, explore and play in a virtual world that now includes Northern Ireland.

The Minecraft NI map, which is free to download for PC and Mac versions of the game, has been developed using Land & Property Service’s Ordnance Survey NI (OSNI) digital mapping data.

The map will be of particular interest to Northern Ireland post-primary schools using an educational version of the game as part of a new project. CultureTECH the organisation behind the project, is already using the Minecraft NI map to develop new classroom activities.

View the press release

Download the Minecraft map

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on Minecraft Northern Ireland: virtual historic landmarks

IHBC Wales Branch: ‘Energy and old buildings’ conference, with free Affiliate support seminar

Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives

Conference venue – Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives, Regent Street, Wrexham LL11 1RB

IHBC Wales Branch is running a conference on making traditional and historic buildings more energy efficient and sustainable which will take place in Wrexham’s County Borough Museum & Archives on the morning of 2 September, with a free membership application support seminar in the afternoon.

The Wales Branch writes:
This year’s conference, ‘Energy Efficiency & Sustainability of Traditional & Historic Buildings in the UK’, is about making traditional and historic buildings more energy efficient and sustainable without putting them at risk of unintended consequences. It will highlight what could happen when you don’t get it right and what is best practice in the way we use and treat buildings including energy efficiency retrofit. It will reveal some of the latest research, decision making tools and guidance.

Join us on the morning of Wednesday 2nd September at the Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives.

And for all Affiliates – join us in the afternoon for the IHBC Full Membership Seminar.

This seminar will provide the opportunity to learn more about the competencies that form the application. With guidance from colleagues in the national office and full members within the Branches the sessions will help you with any queries about applying that you may have.

For details of both sessions and to book, visit: energyefficiency.ihbc.org.uk

Posted in IHBC NewsBlog | Comments Off on IHBC Wales Branch: ‘Energy and old buildings’ conference, with free Affiliate support seminar

IHBC’s new Guidance Note (GN): ‘Urgent Works in advance of an LBC application’

The IHBC has just launched the next in its new practitioner support Guidance Note programme, accessible through the institute’s web ‘Toolbox’, exploring urgent works in advance of obtaining listed building consent.

The topics covered within the guidance note include:

  • A suggested approach for the process
  • Tips on recording the building condition
  • Nurturing relationships with property owners
  • The legislative position. 

The guidance note is written by IHBC’s Research Consultant Bob Kindred. 

This is one of a series of occasional Guidance Notes published by The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC).  IHBC Guidance Notes offer current and recent guidance into topics that we consider crucial to the promotion of good built and historic environment conservation policy and practice.  The Notes necessarily reflect knowledge and practice at the time they were developed, while the IHBC always welcomes new case examples, feedback and comment to research@ihbc.org.uk for future revisions and updates. 

For links to the Guidance Notes see here in the IHBC Toolbox 

For links to the Research Notes see here in the IHBC Toolbox

For more background on IHBC Toolbox

Posted in IHBC NewsBlog | Comments Off on IHBC’s new Guidance Note (GN): ‘Urgent Works in advance of an LBC application’

GASA 2015 – Final Reminder!

Only 2 days left to enter this year’s student award with a closing date of Friday 31st July 2015!

You could win a £500 cash prize plus free places at the IHBC’s Annual School, valued at around £500, are also offered to the winner and any commended entrants so they can receive their prizes in person at the IHBC’s School dinner.

The 2016 School, when the awards will be presented, will take place in Worcester.

All you need to do is complete the form linked HERE and upload your entry which should be part of either under-graduate or post-graduate courses ending in the academic years either to 31 July 2014 OR 31 July 2015.

Full terms and conditions 

Background, former winners, and a whole lot more on the GASA website

Posted in IHBC NewsBlog | Comments Off on GASA 2015 – Final Reminder!

‘Law Wales’: Website explaining how Welsh law differs from rest of UK

A new website has been launched by the Welsh Government called ‘Law Wales’, which explains how legislation differs from the rest of the UK, and clarifying issues which are devolved. 

The Welsh Government writes:
The Law Wales site has been spearheaded by the Welsh Counsel General, Theodore Huckle QC, working with legal publishers Westlaw UK, to raise awareness of the growing body of Welsh law being passed by the National Assembly for Wales and made by the Welsh Ministers.

The National Assembly can pass laws for Wales provided they relate to the 20 specified devolved areas of economic, social and cultural importance to citizens, including health, education, agriculture, transport, housing and the environment.

Nearly 30 new Welsh Acts are expected to be passed during the Fourth Assembly (2011-2016). These join Measures passed in the previous Assembly term which, taken together, mean there are now significant differences in the law in Wales in many areas compared with other parts of the UK.

For example:

  • Landlords in Wales must soon, by law, join a compulsory register and licencing scheme designed to protect tenants’ rights.
  • All businesses preparing food in Wales have a legal duty to display their food hygiene rating, under a law brought in to improve standards for consumers.
  • From December 1st, there will be a new ‘opt out’ system of organ donation in Wales, aimed at increasing the number of organs available for life-saving transplants.

Counsel General Theodore Huckle QC said: ‘With more and more laws being passed affecting only Wales, it’s absolutely vital that people here and beyond understand the growing changes in areas like health, education and housing, to name but a few.  The Law Wales website is designed not only to raise citizens’ awareness of the ways in which these new laws affect their everyday lives, but also the system under which they are developed, scrutinised, and passed.  I’m delighted that through our partnership with Westlaw UK, the site will be further developed to include rich, in-depth content and analysis aimed at those working in the legal system in Wales.’

Daniel Greenberg from Westlaw UK said: ‘Westlaw UK is absolutely delighted to be able to contribute to this vital public service initiative, which will improve access to laws for the citizen.’

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said: ‘As a barrister and a legislator, I am acutely aware of how complex the law can be. I am delighted that the Welsh Government is leading the way in the UK by developing this information service.’

View the press release

View the site

View Ancient monuments and historic buildings legislation information on Law Wales

View town and country planning legislation information on LawWales 

View housing related information on LawWales

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on ‘Law Wales’: Website explaining how Welsh law differs from rest of UK

Dorset dig finds pre-Roman settlement

A pre-Roman town of 150 roundhouses has been found by university students during an archaeological dig in Dorset.

The discovery of the town lying along a hill-slope near Winterborne Kingston has been described as ‘extremely significant’ by archaeologists who said that what had been found was ‘one of the earliest and largest open settlements in Britain.’ 

See Planning Portal 

Bournemouth University press release

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on Dorset dig finds pre-Roman settlement

New development refused near Kedleston Hall

Amber Valley Borough Council has refused permission for a 400-home development on the edge of the Derby suburb of Allestree because of the harm posed to the setting of the nearby Grade I listed Kedleston Hall.

Developer Catesby Estates is considering an appeal. 

See Planning Portal

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on New development refused near Kedleston Hall

National Parks need effective resourcing: Campaign

Cuts of up to 40% in real terms to National Park Authority Government funding in England has led to more than 225 job losses over the past fives years and had a huge impact on services they provide, The Campaign for National Parks has warned.

Following a Freedom of Information request sent to all ten National Parks in England, the Campaign has released a national briefing showing the extent and impact of the cuts to National Parks over the last five years.

A Freedom of Information request found that National Park Authorities in England received £44.7m for 2015/16 compared with £56 million in 2010/11. The report also found that many National Parks have had to cut specific projects and programmes. These include the New Forest cutting its Sustainable Development Fund by 55%, the Broads closing three of its six tourist information centres and withdrawing from maintaining all its rights of way (around 23km), while the North York moors has stopped flood prevention work. The North York Moors has also cuts budgets in its biodiversity and historic environment work.

The Campaign is therefore calling on the Government to effectively resource National Parks, while also enabling them to take innovating approaches to access new or existing funding streams.

Fiona Howie, Campaign for National Parks chief executive, said: ‘Funding available for public transport programmes – that get people out into and around our Parks – has been cut; information centres are closing down or shortening their opening hours; public rights of way are not being maintained and grants for rural businesses – the lifeblood of the community – are being cut.

For the briefing see national briefing

For more information, see the Campaign for National Parks website at cnp.org.uk

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on National Parks need effective resourcing: Campaign

Recap: THA on ‘Heritage and Government… coherent policy’?

The latest The Heritage Alliance (THA) debate, held on 14 July in London, was on the topic of Heritage and Government, while recordings of the debate have been made available on the THA website.

The Heritage Alliance (THA) writes:
Heritage & Government’ – the sixth in the Alliance’s series of Heritage Debates and first to be held in London – examined the changing role the state has played in supporting our heritage for public benefit.

Heritage Alliance Chairman Loyd Grossman led an outstanding panel of heritage champions. Conrad Bird, Director of the Cabinet Office’s GREAT Britain campaign illustrated the importance of heritage to the UK’s position at the top of the soft power league.

Sir Laurie Magnus, Chairman of Historic England outlined the new English Heritage model and warned that ‘the gravy train of state support has gone’. Professor Sara Selwood, Editor of Cultural Trends, examined the relationship between research and public policy making. The 150-strong audience raised issues about education, everyday heritage, VAT and developers’ perceptions of heritage, local authority capacity and the fate of Local Authority heritage assets.

View more information about the debate

Posted in Sector NewsBlog | Comments Off on Recap: THA on ‘Heritage and Government… coherent policy’?