Grade II* Wedgwood Institute in line for £2.6 million funding

The Princes Regeneration Trust (PRT) are working on the Wedgwood Institute in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent (one of England’s most ‘at risk’ Victorian buildings) and have managed to secure an initial development grant of £420,000 from HLF, with £130,000 from Stoke City Council, and a further a further £4.2million is to be raised by the PRT.

The Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT) writes:
The restoration of one of England’s most ‘at risk’ Victorian buildings, the Wedgwood Institute in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, has been given a huge boost after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) pledged almost £2.6 million of funding towards the project.

The Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT) is delighted to announce that the HLF has provisionally approved our funding bid to restore the Wedgwood Institute and has agreed to provide a £420,000 initial development grant towards design and project development work.  The Grade II* listed building is being brought back to life by PRT and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.  We are seeking funding for the main phase of works, which is expected to cost about £6.9 million in total and will transform the building into an enterprise hub and centre for start-up businesses.

The HLF expression of support is a massive step forward for this ambitious regeneration project to save the Institute from dereliction. On top of £130,000 already provided by Stoke City Council, it means about 40% of the cash is now in place, leaving a further £4.2million to be raised by PRT.  Subject to further funding being secured, work on the main phase of the project is expected to start in spring 2017, with the fully redeveloped Institute due to open in 2018-19. PRT estimates that the Institute could provide space for around 20 to 25 businesses, creating up to 150 jobs for local people, as well as room for business meetings, professional training and mentoring and community facilities.

Early next year, PRT and Stoke Council will start consulting with the local community in Burslem on their plans for the building. We will take all views into account before deciding how best to redevelop the building for modern use.

The £420,000 of development funding will go towards design and planning work up to the point that the project is ready to be delivered as well as surveys into the state of the building. It will also pay for a Burslem-based project officer who, up until the main phase of work begins, will lead the delivery of community engagement and education activities and will manage the interim uses of the building. 

View the press release

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HE’s new Commissioners include Rosemarie McQueen MBE & IHBC, and more!

c. UK.gov

John Whittingdale, Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has appointed five new Historic England Commissioners, including IHBC member Rosemarie MacQueen MBE, and Charles O’Brien, Series Editor of the renowned Pevsner Architectural Guides.

DCMS writes:
Nicholas Boys Smith and Paul Baker have been appointed for terms of 3 years, Neil Mendoza for 4 years, and Rosemarie MacQueen MBE and Charles O’Brien for terms of 5 years, all from 1 January 2016.

The Commission is the governing body of Historic England and has overall responsibility for the National Heritage Collection, which is managed by the English Heritage Trust on its behalf. 

Biographical details 

Rosemarie MacQueen MBE
Rosemarie has over 44 years’ experience of urban planning, conservation, heritage management and regeneration. She has provided expert evidence on conservation issues to parliamentary select committees and her voluntary roles include 20+ years of service on the Georgian Group Executive Committee and as London Chairman of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation. Rosemarie was awarded the MBE for services to Heritage in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours list. 

Charles O’Brien
Charles is an architectural historian and joint Series Editor of the renowned Pevsner Architectural Guides.

Previously, Charles worked for the Historic Buildings Department of The National Trust in its southern region. He is a member of Historic England’s Advisory Committee and London Advisory Committee, the Advisory Board for the Victoria County History and the Heritage and Arts Committee of the Mercers Company. 

Nicholas Boys Smith
Nicholas is the founding director of Create Streets, a social enterprise that encourages the creation of popular urban environments and strives for constructive public influence on the planning and development process.

Nicholas is currently leading planning, development and urban design-related projects for public sector, private sector and community group clients. He is the author of many public policy studies and is an occasional columnist in Building magazine. He has been described by the Architects’ Journal as a ‘leading figure’ on issues to do with the built environment. 

Paul Baker
Paul is a director at architects WilkinsonEyre. His passion for creating spaces that intrigue and delight on both an intellectual and emotional level has led to his continued work with key visitor attractions and cultural institutions around the world. His award winning portfolio includes the Alpine House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a series of projects for the Science Museum in London and the extensive redevelopment of the Wellcome Trust’s Collection building.

At the core of his approach is an interest in how architecture can be integrated into its context across the disciplines of structure and services, planning and environment and landscape architecture – and in particular, exploring how this holistic approach can contribute to long-term sustainability and regeneration. 

Neil Mendoza
Neil started working life as a banker at JP Morgan in New York before moving to film finance. He co-founded the pioneering publishing agency, Forward, spending much of his career as an entrepreneur and non-executive director in the film, design, software and telecoms sectors.

He is Chairman of The Landmark Trust, Chairman of Children and the Arts, and Vice-Chairman at Soho Theatre. 

UK gov news

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Seeking new horizons for the new year?  IHBC’s newest job opportunity – ‘Branch & Events Support’ (BES) Officer – closes 15 Jan

IHBC members, colleagues and supporters are reminded that the institute is seeking suitable applications for the full-time equivalent post of IHBC ‘Branch Events Support’ (‘BES’) Officer – with job-share offers also considered – where the post-holder(s) will be responsible for helping IHBC volunteers deliver training events across our networks.

The starting salary is from £17,000 and the closing date is 15 January at 5pm sharp. 

For full details and context see

IHBC’s first Christmas present: A new job for starters! Would you like to be our new ‘Branch & Events Support’ (BES) Officer?

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IHBC members, with benefits: Final discounts on conservation BS 7913 CPD in Edinburgh, 11 January

IHBC members are reminded that 10% discounts are still available for the January 11 CPD event covering the building conservation British Standard, BS 7913, while future events are scheduled for Belfast, on 18 February, and Bristol, on 24 March.

Booking info 

For the IHBC discount of 10% enter coupon code ‘IHESC415’

Buy your own IHBC-branded copy of BS7913 at http://ihbc.org.uk/bs/

IHBC NewsBlogs on BS7913

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IHBC NewsBlogs Update: ‘Top 10’ for 2015 (from ‘NIMBY’ism to BS 7913) · Reach @750k+ · Taster alerts to come!

newsbloghomepageIHBC members and colleagues will be interested to know more about the ever-extending reach, impact and potential of one of our core member services and charitable activities, the IHBC NewsBlogs news and email alert service, while to celebrate its success the institute will soon offer 6 months of free NewsBlog email alert ‘tasters’ to non-members.

IHBC Director Seán O’Reilly said: ‘Since we started our NewsBlogs in 2007 – with a NewsBlog on buildings history, suitably enough – the service has become a resource that not only recorded progress in the sector, but helped shape it.’

‘Indeed the NewsBlog service remains unique today, both as a resource in itself and as a tool for profiling the true character of the conservation sector.’

‘As a resource, the NewsBlog archive offers some of the most flexible search facilities – including searches by month and by email alert as well as content.  Among other uses, it also serves as an easy tool for referencing digital publications, as authors can simplify and speed up authoritative sourcing just by embedding links to our NewsBlog items.’

‘The site data for 2015 to date demonstrates just how the service currently stands:

  • 214 IHBC-specific NewsBlogs, as well as
  • 1080 sector Newsblogs
  • 103 NewsBlog email alerts sent out to c.2,000 recipients, an average of two per week
  • 781,396 visits. 

‘And since we began in 2007 we have published and archived 4832 NewsBlog items; recorded 1,283,495 visits, and had 3,224,729 pageviews, which means about 670 pageviews per NewsBlog!’

‘Notwithstanding all the obvious qualifications we must apply in interpreting digital data such as these, they are hugely impressive figures for a specialist professional body such as ours!’ 

‘Moreover, the NewsBlog service can also help us shape the sector, for example as a profiling tool that offers rare insights into conservation practice.  For example, analysing the use of the service reveals the vast constituencies of interest encompassed by IHBC members and NewsBlog service users.’

‘So our Top Ten list of NewsBlogs for 2015 clearly demonstrates the huge gulf between the realities of conservation practice and the presumptions so often associated with it even now by so many, both inside and outside the heritage sector, as our ten most popular topics for 2015 cover:

  • planning and crime – such as ‘NIMBY’ism and stone theft
  • infrastructure and standards – for example regional devolution, green belts and the IHBC-branded BS 7913, and
  • diverse news headlines – IHBC officers’ support for the NHTG, and BBC reports on the costly problems of inappropriate insulation.

‘Altogether the NewsBlog service and archive have proven their special values, helping us better inform and understand the sector.  For 2016 and after, I’m sure we’ll see the service playing an ever increasing role, as its legacy helps to shape the sector and the wider mainstream activities that impact on our valued places!’

‘Recognising this potential, the IHBC would like to offer its thanks to all involved in the production of the service, not least our NewsBlog consultant author, Alison McCandlish.’

‘We can also confirm that in January we will start offering 6-month ‘tasters’ of the email alert service to non-members, so all NewsBlog users can see just how the IHBC’s services can help them improve their understanding of how conservation operates.’

IHBC’s Top Ten NewsBlog pages for 2015, by headline and link:

Access the IHBC’s NewsBlogs

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IHBC members, with benefits: Last chance discounts on conservation BS 7913 CPD in Edinburgh, 11 January

IHBC members are reminded that 10% discounts are still available for the January 11 CPD event covering the building conservation British Standard, BS 7913, while future events are scheduled for Belfast, on 18 February, and Bristol, on 24 March. 

Book here 

For the IHBC discount of 10% enter coupon code ‘IHESC415’ 

Buy your own IHBC-branded copy of BS7913 

For NewsBlogs on BS7913

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Church Buildings Council: nominations sought by 22 Jan

Candidates are sought for four places on the Church Buildings Council to be vacant from 1 May, with a closing date of Friday 22 January 2016 at 5pm.

ChurchCare, writes:
The Secretary of State at the DCMS nominates four members of the Church Buildings Council. There are four vacancies from 1 June 2016.

The Cathedral and Church Buildings Division (ChurchCare) supports the preservation and development of the Church of England’s 16,000 church buildings (12,500 of which are listed) for worship, mission and community engagement.

The Secretary of State’s nominees are expected to have, between them, special knowledge of or expertise in history, architecture, archaeology and aesthetics.

The Secretary of State’s nominees form half of the Statutory Advisory Committee which gives formal advice to the Church Commissioners over churches being considered for closure and that are closed for regular worship.

It is important that nominees should also play a full part in the work of the Council as a whole and this will include working on wider policy issues related to church buildings. 

DCMS writes;
Under the Dioceses, Pastoral, and Mission Measure (see Annex i for further details), the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport nominates 4 suitably qualified individuals for appointment to the Church Buildings Council by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Four places will be vacant from 1 May 2016. 

The Secretary of State’s nominees are expected to include four people who, between them, have special knowledge of or expertise in history, architecture, archaeology and aesthetics.

The Secretary of State’s nominees form half of the Statutory Advisory Committee which gives formal advice to the Church Commissioners over churches being considered for closure and that are closed for regular worship. It is important that nominees should also play a full part in the work of the Council as a whole.

Person Specification
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will nominate four individuals to sit on the Council, and on the Statutory Advisory Committee. Nominees will be able to demonstrate the following competences:

  • policy work relating to managing a large collection of buildings;
  • the liturgical use of church buildings;
  • the wider use and development of church buildings;
  • the future of church buildings not regularly needed for worship;
  • raising and granting funds for the conservation and development of church buildings and furnishings;
  • technical or specialist issues relevant to the care of church buildings and furnishings.

And an understanding of:

  • architectural or art history;
  • the wider built heritage sector 

How to Apply
Candidates should submit a letter of application demonstrating how they meet the requirements for the role, together with a CV and completed additional forms (attached) by email or hard copy to:

David Knight
Church Buildings Council
Church House
Great Smith Street
London
SW1P 3AZ

David.knight@churchofengland.org

 

See more at http://www.churchcare.co.uk/about-us/campaigns/news/945-join-church-buildings-councl#sthash.6UVlcixE.dpuf

 

For appointments details see http://publicappointments.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/appointment/church-buildings-council-members/

 

http://www.churchcare.co.uk/about-us/campaigns/news/945-join-church-buildings-councl

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Deal on Banksy mural near GCHQ under negotiation

A deal to buy a Banksy mural on a house near GCHQ and place it in ‘safe hands’, is being negotiated by a local council after the ‘Spy Booth’ artwork, showing three figures ‘snooping’ on a telephone box, appeared in Cheltenham last year. 

The BBC writes:
The ‘unauthorised’ mural was granted retrospective planning permission but has been repeatedly vandalised and with ‘apparent’ attempts made to remove it.

The council said: ‘The first task is to achieve a value for the transfer which can be agreed by all parties.’

The artwork appeared on the side of an end-of-terrace house in Fairview Road, three miles from government listening post GCHQ, in April 2014.

Since then it has been daubed with white paint, sprayed with silver and red graffiti, had people trying to steal it and businesses and communities fighting over ownership.

Last September in a bid to fix the damage ‘apparently’ done in an ‘abortive attempt’ to remove the Banksy, the property’s owners were served a notice by Cheltenham Borough Council.

But with the authority now in ‘on-going negotiations’ to transfer ownership of the property ‘into safe hands’, councillor Andrew McKinlay said it had ‘postponed’ further action.

‘If this proves possible, the council will more easily be able to ensure the restoration and longer term protection of the Banksy,’ he said.

‘It is not proposed for this transfer to be at the council’s cost but the first task is to achieve a value for the transfer which can be agreed by all parties.’

So far, the council has been unable to find a ‘reliable and realistic’ price for the property but Mr McKinlay said if negotiations fail it would be taking ‘further enforcement action’. 

BBC News item 1 and News item 2

ITV News item

 

UK Local Gov article

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ChurchCare update: New faculty rules at the CoE

IHBC members are reminded that on 1 January 2016 the new simplified Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 come into force, as ChurchCare, the Church of England’s national resource, has recently reported.

IHBC Policy Secretary David Kincaid said: ‘The changes to the faculty Jurisdiction Rules seem to be sensible – a simplification of the existing process that should allow minor works of repair and maintenance to go ahead without a faculty.’

‘There is a new national list of works that do not require a faculty – List A – and a schedule of works that can be carried with the archdeacon’s approval but do not need a faculty – List B.

The various works are generally minor and should not affect ‘special interest’. List B does include treatment against woodworm and fungal attack which can be destructive of historic fabric, so hopefully the archdeacon in consultation with the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) will keep the excesses of woodworm treatment in check.’

ChurchCare writes:
There is a new national ‘A List’ of works which can be carried out on your church without a Faculty. This replaces all Diocesan De Minimus and Minor Works lists.

There is a new national ‘B List’ of works which can be carried out once the written permission of the Archdeacon has been obtained. Most of these will be repairs and routine maintenance or small works identified in the QI report. The Archdeacon must consult the DAC (usually via the Secretary) for informed informal advice, but this should be a speedy and simple process enabling parishes to get on with the work without delay. The Archdeacon may set conditions on the way the works are carried out.

All other works will still require a Faculty, although the process has been simplified in a number of respects. Your DAC Secretary will be able to advise you about the best way forward.

Further background on the new Rules is available as follows:

– A note from the Dean of Arches and Auditor which summarises the changes made by the Rules

– An explanatory memorandum that sets out the aspects of the 2013 Rules to be replaced by the 2015 Rules

See the full Rules

The A List can be found in Schedule I, Table 1 of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015

The B List can be found in Schedule I, Table 2 of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015

A list of DAC Secretaries …

To help you work with the new Lists A and B we have produced a list of Frequently Asked Questions

Churchcare article

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Study warns towns are being ‘eclipsed’ by cities

Towns in England are being left behind their neighbouring cities, with many under-performing in terms of health, education and employment, new analysis by Demos consultants, ‘Talk of the Town’, has revealed as it found three in five of satellite towns are lagging behind their urban neighbours and warns of a ‘concerning’ gulf between the socio-economic performance of towns and cities, calling for a more balanced level of regional economic growth.

Demos writes:
The ‘Talk of the Town’ report was undertaken to map the fortunes of the satellite towns orbiting 21 of England’s largest cities, and to better understand their distinct characteristics. With cross-party agreement on the need for a more balanced level of regional economic growth throughout the UK, the report seeks to capture the unique local profiles and needs of both towns and cities – and identify where they could most benefit from targeted support. 

As part of this project, Demos has built an interactive dashboard mapping the socio-economic performance of towns and cities across England…

See the Demos summary

UK Local Gov article

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IHBC’s 3rd Christmas present: Annual School update – 23-25 June, Worcester… 1st speakers and sponsors for ‘People Power…’

secretlondon-Purple-presentThe IHBC has announced confirmation of the speakers for the 2016 School, to take place in Worcester on 23-25 June on the theme of ‘People Power: Catalyst for Change’, while the first sponsor is confirmed as architectural practice and heritage consultants – and HESPR member – Purcell.

Andrew Mottram, Chair of the Worcester 2016 Team said: ‘The IHBC West Midlands Branch is delighted to host the forthcoming Annual School in Worcester, a city of a wide and varied historic environment, as it provides the setting for our UK-wide exploration of the theme of ‘People Power: Catalyst for Change.’

‘We all know that, without people – including both practitioners and the local communities that embrace their heritage – the historic environment has no future.  So our School will focus on the diverse range of people who are passionate about conservation as the management of change in buildings and places, and the outcomes that they can help deliver.’

‘Offering lessons from challenging projects ranging across the UK, and looking at what the future of the sector holds, our programme will highlight both the critical importance of people in conservation – past and present – and the changes they can and do make to create sustainable, cost effective and viable futures for our heritage.  And of course our ‘people-focus’ means that we also welcome those with business perspectives, in particular the first of hopefully many sponsors, Purcell.’

David Duckham, Partner at Purcell said: ‘Purcell is pleased to sponsor the IHBC Annual Dinner and we have supported both the IHBC and the Annual School for many years.’

‘Community participation is vital to the regeneration of the country’s treasured historic buildings and we see this first hand in our countless community led projects. For example, our recently completed work at Grange Court in Herefordshire was made possible through the successful working relationship between the council and the local community.’

For Purcell see http://www.purcelluk.com

For sponsorship details contact Fiona Newton at projects@ihbc.org.uk

For more details on the 2016 School see the IHBC website

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SAVE challenges Liverpool City Council’s WHS Buffer works

SAVE is challenging a decision by Liverpool City Council to grant permission for demolition and redevelopment works in the Lime Street area of the city, within the World Heritage Site (WHS) Buffer Zone in a High Court hearing on Friday 18 December. 

SAVE writes:
This Friday (18 December), the High Court in Manchester will hear SAVE’s challenge against Liverpool City Council’s decision to grant planning permission to Neptune Developments’ proposals to demolish over 10 buildings, including the Futurist Cinema, on Lime Street, for replacement with an overbearing 11-storey student block and shopping mall.

The area is in Liverpool’s World Heritage Site Buffer Zone and SAVE is challenging on the grounds that UNESCO and the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) were not consulted about the proposals. The proposed building exceeds the height recommendations for the area by four storeys, and will have a major and detrimental effect on the setting and Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site; all points raised in the objections of SAVE, the Victorian Society, the Merseyside Civic Society, The Cinema Theatre Association and many others.

English Heritage (Historic England) acknowledged in 2005 the importance of the buildings in question to the setting of the listed buildings and conservation area, and to the WHS:

[The Lime Street frontage] is ‘an important visual reminder that much of early C19 Liverpool was built to the same scale and density. The buildings provide the context for the listed public houses at either end of the building frontage, and for the railway terminus and former hotel at Lime Street Station. The range of architectural forms and detailing represented in the Lime Street frontage is an important contribution to the setting of the nearby conservation areas, and to that of the World Heritage Site.’

However, in their consultation response to these proposals they failed to make any reference at all to the fact that the site is in the WHS Buffer Zone, and they did not object to the application. This is a grave oversight, and begs the question, who is paying regard to the World Heritage Site regulations, to which the UK signed up to in 1984?

Equally, the DCMS failed to show any concern about the proposed construction in the Buffer Zone, effectively colluding with Liverpool Council in their decision that there was no need to consult. In its evidence Liverpool Council attempts to claim that the city was given World Heritage Site statement exclusively for its maritime mercantile heritage. In fact the WHS listing gives equal weight to Liverpool’s civic architecture that flourished at the same time.

Liverpool’s World Heritage Site was placed officially at risk by the UNESCO Committee in 2012 due to proposed tall building development on the waterfront, and there are concerns over the city and UK government’s lack of commitment to protecting the WHS, with the Mayor of Liverpool on record as describing the universal human value conferred and protected by WHS status as merely ‘a certificate on the town hall wall’ (Liverpool Echo, January 2, 2012).

SAVE believes that the impact runs against World Heritage Site policy as enshrined in the UDP and NPPF, and places Liverpool’s already officially ‘endangered’ WHS at further risk. Deletion of the WHS by UNESCO would be only the third of its kind, and would be of great embarrassment to the UK Government for failing to uphold its treaty obligations to protect an asset of ‘outstanding universal human value’.

The Futurist Cinema is a much loved Liverpool landmark: it is the city’s first purpose built cinema and one of a diminishing number of pre-WWI movie theatres in the UK. It was constructed in 1912 by renowned theatre architects Chadwick and Watson. It has a highly decorative façade of faience tiles.

International award-winning screen writer Frank Cottrell Boyce said: ‘This cinema is called the Futurist because it once represented the future when Liverpool led the world.  I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey as a kid at the Futurist, which was full of visions of an amazing future.  I still feel Liverpool’s future could be different and amazing, and does not have to be about knocking down our historic buildings and putting up off-the-shelf student accommodation.

‘Instead the Futurist could show the imaginative use of our heritage. It would be great to see its fine French Renaissance interior restored for use not just as a commercial cinema, but in an interesting and different way as a cinematic exhibition space for, say, I-Max or 3-D special features. Some of these could be aimed at visitors to tell Liverpool’s story in a spectacular way.  There’s a future for these niche cinemas as seen in New York and Berlin. So why not make the Futurist into the UK’s leader and put Liverpool ahead of the game again?’

Despite being mostly in city council freehold, and despite the fact that the council has a repairing lease on the Futurist, this historic gateway street has been left under-repaired and decaying for over two decades. It has been claimed that it is beyond repair, but an engineering report carried out in February by independent civil and structural engineers Sutcliffe’s stated that the ‘external façade was found to be in reasonable condition’.

Structural engineer Ed Morton made a statement ahead of proceedings: ‘To the Futurist Cinema it is clear that there has been a significant amount of water ingress which will of course have led to structural deterioration. However, in my experience, and with a carefully planned and methodical approach, it should be possible to repair and reinstate the structure, and I certainly cannot see the need to lose these buildings.  Other buildings such as those shown in the Skates Witness Statement appear perfectly capable of repair and re-use and this must be more cost effective than demolition and re-building. There may be grants available to bridge conservation deficits subject to ownership and the aims of the owners.’

SAVE recognises the need to improve the area, but strongly condemns these plans to demolish rather than repair, and the deliberate neglect over many years of publicly owned heritage assets that should have been maintained under full repairing leases.

SAVE Director Clem Cecil said: ‘WHS UNESCO guidelines are being blatantly flouted. This could well be the last straw and lead to Liverpool having its World Heritage Site status removed, which would open the floodgates to inappropriate and harmful development throughout the city. That the WHS should be threatened due to a lack of coherent governance is shameful, both for Liverpool Council and the Government. This proposal on Liverpool’s gateway street reveals a lamentable failure of the system. By highlighting it we hope to save the street and prevent a repeat of this in the future.’

Merseyside Civic Society spokesman Jonathan Brown said: ‘The excuse that Lime Street needs demolition because it is scruffy is back to front.  In fact of course, Lime Street is only scruffy precisely because it is slated for demolition – it’s an otherwise perfect location in terms of access, character and passing trade.  Liverpool has a track record of working with innovative developers and designers like Urban Splash, Signature Living and Assemble – we’d like to see the council raise its game and encourage a better vision for Lime Street and the World Heritage Site that balances higher quality new-build with conservation of gems like the Futurist.’

SAVE President Marcus Binney says: ‘This is a grossly out of scale intrusion on one of the principal routes through the City making a nonsense of the World Heritage Site buffer zone.’

View the press release and more information

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New appointment for PINS Chief Inspectorate: Sarah Richards

The new chief executive of The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has been announced as Sarah Richards. 

The Planning Inspectorate writes:
Sarah Richards appointed as Chief Executive of The Planning InspectorateSarah is currently Strategic Director Regeneration, Housing and Resources, at Slough Borough Council a post she has held since 2013. Sarah has accumulated vast experience in planning. Having begun her career as a planner with the Greater London Council, Sarah progressed to Director of Planning for Test Valley Borough Council and then became head of the Planning Advisory Service before spending four years at Essex County Council in the role of Director for Sustainable Environment and Enterprise and as Head of Strategic Commissioning.

Sara Weller, Chair of the Planning Inspectorate’s Board, said:

‘I am delighted that Sarah Richards will be joining The Planning Inspectorate as the Chief Executive. Sarah brings with her a record of strong leadership and operational delivery to a position that is key to ensuring the Inspectorate delivers its vital role in the planning system. I would also like to thank Steve Quartermain, DCLG Chief Planner, for his role as acting Chief Executive over the last few months during and for the work he has done in this time.’

Commenting on her appointment, Sarah Richards said: ‘I am very much looking forward to joining The Planning Inspectorate as the new Chief Executive. I know what an important job the Inspectorate plays in upholding a fair planning system, helping the country meet its future infrastructure needs and supporting communities shape where they live.’

View the press release

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Final session of Lords Committee on Built Environment: update

The House of Lords Select Committee on the Built Environment held its session on 17 December, taking evidence from Brandon Lewis MP on issues affecting planning and housebuilding. 

The House of Lords Select Committee writes:
The Committee on the Built Environment holds the final evidence session of its inquiry taking evidence from the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis MP. The session focuses on the key issues raised around the built environment throughout its inquiry. 

Thursday 17 December, Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster

At 10.15am:

Brandon Lewis MP, Minister for Housing and Planning, Department for Communities and Local Government

Questions:

  • How does the Government’s policy agenda and the deregulation of planning balance with the need for new housebuilding with other priorities?
  • Why is there such a disparity between the number of homes given planning permission and the number being built? What can be done to bridge the gap?
  • Is existing Green Belt policy sustainable? Has the government weakened in its resolve to protect the Green Belt?
  • How can national policy ensure that developments are sustainable, adaptable and well-designed following the removal and revision of national design codes?
  • Should planning fees be fully devolved to local authorities?
  • Can our system of developer planning obligations still deliver enough affordable homes to meet demand? 

View the recording of the session

 

View records of previous meetings

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‘Garden Towns’ to be launched in Oxfordshire and North Essex

So-called ‘Garden towns’ have been given £1.1 million of funding to create 50,000 new homes in England. 

Department for Communities and Local Government’ (DCLG) writes:
Two new garden towns are being supported with £1.1 million of new funding that will help deliver thousands of homes for aspiring homeowners.  Housing Minister Brandon Lewis with homeowner Chris and Sovereign Housing Association’s Housing and Communities Director Heather Bowman.

Didcot in Oxfordshire and North Essex will be home to new communities that between them are set to provide up to 50,000 new homes, supported by new infrastructure.  The proposals, which have been supported by local leaders, include plans for an additional 15,000 homes by 2031 in Greater Didcot Garden Town and new Garden Communities in North Essex with up to 35,000 new homes.  The money will fund initial work that will enable high quality homes, new transport improvements, good schools, jobs and community amenities to be delivered in a strategic and sustainable way.

Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis said:  I’ve been really impressed by the level of ambition and vision shown by Didcot and North Essex and their determination to deliver new sustainable communities.  We are determined to support communities that are eager to boost the number of homes in their areas to meet local need and this money will help get work up and running quicker.

The minister heard first-hand how the money will help kick-start work during a visit to Didcot on Monday (7 December 2015).  The new garden towns announcement comes as the Prime Minister today said that Shared Ownership will open the door to 175,000 more aspiring homeowners.  Radical changes to Shared Ownership rules will remove old fashioned barriers to home ownership.  Those already in a shared ownership property will be able to move to another shared ownership home – putting an end to restrictions that stopped them using the scheme more than once.  The re-invigorated scheme will allow these homeowners to use the capital they have gained to move to a bigger property, as their families grow or circumstances change.

Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning and Environment, Cllr Roger Hirst said:  We are very pleased to be working in partnership with the three local authorities to find ways to deliver the homes we need and the jobs and infrastructure which must come with them. The advantage of Garden Community development is that we can ensure the right provision of schools, healthcare and transport infrastructure will be in place from the start, and we welcome the opportunity to explore this fully.

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Custom build pilot schemes launched

Park Prewett, Basingstoke has been chosen as the location for a custom build and self build pilot scheme, trying to address issues with access to land and finance often faced by potential custom builders or self builders 

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) writes:
Brandon Lewis announces large-scale custom build pilot.  The minister said the government is committed to the sector and to working with industry professionals to eradicate the 2 biggest barriers to custom and self build – access to land and finance.

The proposed custom build site at Park Prewett, part of a major new housing development in Basingstoke, will be developed by ZeroC. The developer will provide homes under the custom build model, ranging from self-build to custom fit-out.  Each of the homes can be customised to the buyer’s specifications – with various levels of custom build on offer to buyers.  Plans for the site will also include 44 plots which will be allocated for affordable housing, along with a few entirely-self build plots that will be made available.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:  This government is committed to increasing housing supply and helping more people achieve their aspiration of home ownership – whether that’s buying on the open market through schemes like Help to Buy, or to build.  We want to see custom and self build grow significantly and believe it can play a role as part of a wider package of measures to help deliver the homes people want.  The Park Prewett pilot is a fantastic example of our commitment to double the number of custom build and self build homes by 2020 – so anyone who wishes to design their dream house can do so.

Kim Slowe, Managing Director of Zero C said:  Park Prewett is an outstanding opportunity for us to pioneer the delivery of custom build in the United Kingdom.  We plan to take the lessons learned and roll out custom build in all our projects within the UK.

Colin Molton, Executive Director of the HCA in the South and South West said:  Custom Build offers a more accessible route onto the housing ladder. By giving people the option to take on some of the build themselves, we can reduce the cost of owning your own home.  We’ve made land available for custom build on pilot schemes across England, and aim to give many more people the opportunity to design their own homes in the future.  As announced in the Spending Review, the government will increase initiatives to further support the sector, with £350 million additional funding.  A new flexible fund offering £1 billion in loan finance will replace both the Builder’s Finance Fund and the Custom Build Service Plots fund.  This is on top of a range of reforms to support small builders, including the measure in the Housing and Planning Bill which will require authorities to allocate suitable plots to prospective custom and self-builders registered in their area.

Today (9 December 2015) the Housing Minister attended a National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) summit at Downing Street with council leaders from across the UK to act as self and custom build champions.  The Housing Minister was one of the speakers, also including Richard Bacon MP and presenter of TV’s Grand Designs, Kevin McCloud as a new online toolkit was launched offering technical advice on how local authorities can better support communities that want to build their own homes.

View the press release and further information

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