Check out IHBC’s new HESPR site: business-led & client-friendly

IHBC Home Page

With HESPR members’ logos linked from the IHBC’s home page, and a reconstructed mobile friendly website in place, with more client-friendly design, the IHBC’s recognition service for conservation-related companies is now more prominently displayed than ever, and more accessible to prospective clients.

IHBC Director Seán O’Relly said: ‘With monthly hits on our suite of websites heading towards half a million, and HESPR members’ logos appearing on our IHBC Home Page as well as HESPR’s, we’re more able than ever before to make sure that HESPR membership pays off!’

‘Joining HESPR secures a public profile far beyond what’s on offer elsewhere, and at substantially less cost!  And it also means that you can be preferred as a service provider precisely because of the strategic, but still light-touch, infrastructure that HESPR membership offers.  HESPR now offers not only a listing with an increasingly substantial profile, but even better value too!’

HESPR benefits include:

  • Searchable online service with hosted and managed web pages for each HESPR business, containing full contact details and links
  • Web links from IHBC’s Home Page, the starting point for IHBC’s 30000 page web resource with 1/4million hits per month
  • HESPR company listings published in IHBC’s Yearbook, circulation 5000+ (including planning authorities & other heritage regulators and leaders)
  • Free tender notification service (see archive)
  • One free ‘Jobs etc.’ advert & email package p.a. (worth up to £400)
  • Dedicated search facility for HESPR-related events on IHBC’s events calendar (email for details)
  • HESPR fliers circulated at select IHBC events, such as the IHBC’s Annual School, and IHBC-partnered events
  • HESPR promotion on IHBC networks, including social media etc

See and search HESPR

See IHBC’s listing of accredited practitioners

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IHBC at Civic Societies Parliamentary Group on LPA Staffing

On 17 November the IHBC joined a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Civic Societies to explore the impacts on local communities of the loss of local authority staff and services in conservation and archaeology, and what responses might help!

Led by Laura Sandys MP, the APPG Chair, and supported by Freddie Gick, Civic Voice Chair, the discussions were led by Shadow Heritage Minister, Helen Goodman MP, and Chris Smith IHBC speaking on behalf of English Heritage, with former English Heritage Chair Baroness Andrews also in attendance.

IHBC Director Seán O’Reilly said: ‘This was a great opportunity to explore at first hand the huge impact these invidious local authority cuts are having on some of their most important clients and users: the local civic societies!  These societies are the un-sung heroes of heritage planning, and it is sadly only too rare that they have a real voice in shaping the local services that remain very close to their hearts and lives.  The media regularly sounds off about businesses and development being slowed down by planning, but when do communities get a chance to air their disappointment over the impact of heritage cutbacks?’

‘One society member noted how the loss of conservation staff in their authority led directly to the rapid degradation of one of the finest local public areas, while another noted how the lack of any hope of funding stopped communities from adding critical value to the already over-stretched services in their areas.  Such funding usually would be channelled through a local conservation officer, but today there is no-one interested in making the effort to find them resources.’

‘It was also a very useful opportunity to highlight the importance of our recent Guidance Note on local authority duties in the provision of conservation services, and the expensive consequences that may arise when such services fail.’

‘I was also able to point out that the Note also contains our recommendation that communities get told just what heritage services are being provided by their authority, with an easily accessible website statement on heritage capacity there.  That way there’s no confusion: users can see what, if any, skills are in place, and if the conservation capacity is not clear, they’ll know why the service is not delivering.’

Civic Voice website

Information on APPG

For the report that inspired the discussions, which includes data gathered by the IHBC, see the EH website

IHBC’s position on the staffing

Read and download the IHBC’s Guidance Note on ‘Planning Authority duties in the provision of appropriate specialist conservation advice in England’

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IHBC Director on 2014 Placemaking Awards judging panel

IHBC Director Seán O’Reilly has been invited to serve as a judge on the panel for the 2014 Placemaking Awards, while planners now have until 17 December to enter awards that ‘recognise the projects, plans and people that are making places better’.

The Award organisers write:
The Placemaking Awards recognise and publicise projects, plans, people and organisations that are making places better. Open to individuals and organizations in planning, regeneration, economic development, urban design, sustainable development and community development.

The aim of the Placemaking Awards is to be as inclusive as possible for the Built Environment, to showcase not just projects that have come to fruition but also ideas, plans and the people and consultacies behind the process of planning and to highlight all aspects of the Built Environment including the best practice that each and every planner has at the core of their work.

See the Awards programme

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Pevsner offer: sign up & get 25% off!

Yale University Press is currently offering 25% off any Pevsner Architectural Guide in December if you sign up to receive Yale-Pevsner news by email.

Pevsner Architectural Guides writes:
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Power of People: Stoke’s Heritage ‘Occupiers’ defend Town Hall

Protesters campaigning against the sell-off of the Fenton Town Hall in Stoke-on-Trent have vowed to occupy the historic building over Christmas and beyond as they fear that Government pledges to place a restrictive covenant on the building to protect it would not guarantee the building’s preservation, or public access.

The Independent writes:
This comes after the Government failed to guarantee them time to draw up a business plan that would see it returned it to the community. It is believed several bids from the private sector have been tabled.

Local campaigners this week met Shailesh Vara, the Minister for Courts and Legal Aid, Rob Flello, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent, and the Victorian Society over the future of the building. Yet the meeting ended in deadlock.

The 30 protesters refused to leave as they ‘had not received assurances they would have four months to prepare a business plan for community use of the Town Hall before a decision was made about its future’, according to one observer at the meeting.

The Victorian Society is not directly supporting the occupation of the Town Hall, or its plan, but a spokesman said whatever happens to the building ‘its former council chamber and First World War memorial should remain intact and accessible to the public’.

Fenton Town Hall was built by the Baker family in 1888 and designed by Robert George Scrivener. It became a magistrates’ court which closed in December 2012.

Victorian Society news 

Stoke Sentinel article

The Independent article

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MPs: ‘Cut lottery funding if councils don’t back culture’

Funding cuts should be handed to councils that do not support local arts, MPs have warned in a damning review of Arts Council ‘imbalance’.

Localgov writes:
Members of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee pushed the Arts Council to be ‘more robust’ with local authorities that ‘show little inclination’ to back local cultural work. Yet the committee stopped short of recommending introducing statutory levels of support, similar to those surrounding libraries.

MPs highlighted the London borough of Westminster, which they claim does ‘little to support the arts’ and has cut all investment.

‘We are disappointed that a few local authorities appear to fail to recognise the value of supporting the arts and we see little point in pumping public money into areas that do not particularly want or need it. We would expect that the Government minister with responsibility for the arts should use his position to champion the arts at every opportunity, not least in conversations with local authorities,’ committee chair John Whittingdale said.

However, Cllr Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, said it was ‘incredibly disingenuous to say we contribute nothing’ when the borough hosts free events, is a key partner in establishing new theatres and improving cultural sites and provides free art on the streets.

‘On top of that, we have our own ward budget programme, which allocates £46,000 to each of Westminster’s 20 local areas and is spent on a wide range of projects, including culture trips for the elderly, art classes for residents, children’s art competitions, youth orchestra projects, and community choirs, to name just a few,’ Cllr Davis added.

Responding to the report, Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair, Arts Council England said a ‘crucial’ factor for the arts funding was ‘the commitment of local authorities to support culture during this period of austerity’.

‘To that end, we fully endorse the importance placed on local partnership working and will continue to use our on the ground expertise and knowledge to build connections and broker partnerships around the country that deliver strong cultural engagement,’ he added.

The Arts Council came under fire for its ‘clear funding imbalance’ in favour of London and was urged to limit the capital’s access to National Lottery support.

The committee chair said: ‘The Arts Council generally does a good job in allocating limited resources between many competing demands. However, there is a clear imbalance in arts funding in favour of London – which the Arts Council itself admits. This is unfair on tax payers and lottery players in other parts of the country, as well as limiting access to cultural opportunities and enjoyment across the country.

‘We welcome the efforts already being made by the Arts Council to shift lottery funding outside of London but would like to see this done faster.’

Sir Peter said he agreed that ‘any further provision in future spending rounds should be prioritised to bolster the national arts ecology outside the M25’.

LocalGov article 

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Devon solar farm blocked on threats to LB settings

Proposals for a 19-hectare solar farm project at Ashwater in North Devon have been dismissed on appeal after initially being turned down by Torridge District Council, with the 10-megawatt scheme refused permission because of its impact on the landscape and the setting of nearby listed buildings.

Search Planning Portal


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GSA fire: Student project foam panels ’caused blaze’

The recently released report on the fire at Glasgow School of Art (GSA) concludes that a student project was the source, as it stemmed from an undergraduate’s installation that involved fastening foam panels on to three walls of a basement studio with another wall left blank to show images from a projector

The Independent article

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Double glazing test case for listed homes

Hampshire parish councillor Timothy Guiness has mounted a test case in the High Court over whether he should be allowed to fit double glazing in his listed farmhouse at Ellisfield

Timothy Guinness said planning authorities showed ‘prejudice’ about double glazing in listed properties because designs had moved on since the windows were restricted to ‘frightful PVC’., attacking what he brands as a ‘prejudice’ by planners against allowing double glazed windows in listed buildings.

His application for listed building consent to replace the windows was initially refused by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council in September 2013, on the basis that the proposal would harm the historic character, appearance and significance of the property.

In June, the inspector rejected the couple’s appeal, finding that the proposed timber windows would be ‘bulky’ in comparison to the existing metal frames.

Though she accepted that the Crittall windows at the property are of ‘very poor quality’, she found that the proposed windows would be of an equally poor design.

Lawyers representing communities secretary Eric Pickles argued that the inspector had been entitled to reach the decision she did in the exercise of her planning judgment.

The Times article

Search Planning Portal

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Sustainable development & marine planning consultation -MMO

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has started consultation on the draft Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report for the South Inshore and South Offshore Marine Plans, with the consultation closing on Friday 2nd January 2015.

This is the first stage in the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) process, where the South marine plans are independently assessed to understand how they will help deliver sustainable development.

The report looks at sustainability issues such as communities, health and wellbeing, marine ecology and cultural heritage.

The MMO writes:
Running for five weeks, this is the first stage in the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) process, where the South marine plans are independently assessed to understand how they will help deliver sustainable development.

The scoping report looks at sustainability issues such as communities, health and wellbeing, marine ecology and cultural heritage.

MMO’s Sustainability Manager, Chris Maxwell, said: ‘This is a really important first step in understanding how marine planning in the South will help deliver sustainable development. I hope a wide range of marine users will get involved in helping us set out how our sustainable goals can be measured and achieved.’

The MMO’s SA advisory group, made up of statutory nature conservation bodies, industry representatives, environmental non-governmental organisations such as the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts, and Defra, have also contributed to this draft report.

MMO consultation

MMO press release

Search Planning Portal

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UKCES: Employer leadership in skills and employment is vital

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has announced that a new report looking into the UK skills system, ‘Growth Through People’, puts forward 5 recommendations for action all supported by the TUC and CBI.

Urgent action must be taken to improve skill levels and how they are developed in order to boost productivity, wages and social mobility, according to a report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), supported by the CBI and the TUC.

The report, ‘Growth Through People’ calls for employers to lead the way, working with unions and the government, to ensure the UK has the skilled workforce needed to create better jobs and fight off international competition.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and UKCES, said: ‘The workplace is changing at a faster rate than it ever has done. It’s creating some terrific jobs with great opportunities for some people, but not for others, where it’s leading to lower pay for longer.’

‘Old career paths are either vanishing or becoming much harder to navigate. Encouragingly, new paths are emerging, but they are far from achieving the scale and accessibility that’s needed to make a difference for enough people and to the economy at large. The imperative is therefore stronger than ever to establish quality vocational pathways as a preferred alternative for many.’

‘But that won’t be enough. Around 90 per cent of the current workforce will still be in work in the next decade. That’s where we will win or lose on productivity. And that’s why employers must lead in tackling this, and be given the space and encouragement to do so. That needs to start early, with more integration between the worlds of work and education, and extend, via a new norm of earning and learning, into a lifetime of development, increasing productivity and pay.’

His views were echoed by John Cridland, Director General of the employers’ organisation the CBI and a UKCES Commissioner. He said: ‘We must work hard to improve our education system to the benefit of all and help people overcome disadvantage.  We also need to create better ladders to higher-skilled work which can help boost the UK’s productivity and lead to a rise in wages.  Business wants to help build a more prosperous Britain where everyone has the chance to get on in life. This is the right thing to do to build a stronger and fairer society, and it makes good business and economic sense too.’

TUC General Secretary and UKCES Commissioner Frances O’Grady said: ‘Far too many of the new jobs currently being created are of the insecure and temporary variety, often with scant access to training and on low rates of pay, when what working people and our economy needs are highly skilled, well-paid jobs with real prospects.’

‘When workers are stuck in low-paid jobs with little access to training, they can struggle to gain the confidence and skills they need to allow them to move into positions where they can start not just to make more of a contribution to society in the form of higher taxes, but are also more able to provide for their families.’

‘By investing in people and encouraging them to grow as individuals and workers, unions and employers are investing in the UK’s future. A coherent industrial strategy which involves both sides of industry assessing the skills needed to ensure individual sectors of the economy are at their most competitive will not only help UK companies become the best in the world but will also guarantee that our future workforce is not just highly skilled, but well-paid too.’

The Growth Through People report describes the changing shape of the workplace.

Over the last 20 years, as technology infiltrates most working practices, 4.6 million more high-skill jobs and 1.3 million lower-skill jobs have been created, whilst the number of roles requiring traditional mid-level skills, such as secretarial and clerical roles has declined. As a result, the authors say that the career ladder has become harder to climb and it is more difficult for the workplace to facilitate social mobility.

The report sets out five priorities for action over the next twenty years:

  • Employers need to lead the charge Employers should lead on skills development and government should enable them to do so, by encouraging greater collaboration between businesses, unions and the workforce in regions, sectors and across supply chains
  • Increased productivity equals career progression Improving workplace productivity is the route to pay and prosperity including better management, better job design and increased employee engagement
  • We need more quality ‘earning and learning’ routes like apprenticeships. They should be a normal career pathway for many more young people, and a normal way for businesses to recruit and develop their workforce
  • Bridge the gap between education and work Education and employers should be better connected to prepare people for work. Work experience should become an integral part of education for all young people.
  • Real results, not exam results Success should be measured by a wide set of outcomes, including jobs and progression, not just qualifications.

David Abraham, Chief Executive of Channel 4 and Chair of the Industrial Partnership for the Creative Industries said: ‘The Growth Through People strategy highlights the importance of industry-wide collaboration and employer-led partnerships in developing a skilled workforce. I am a passionate advocate of employers investing in training, skills and talent development to ensure the UK’s economy can attract and develop the broadest range of talent.’

Steve Holliday, Chief Executive at National Grid and Chair of the Energy and Efficiency Industrial Partnership said: ‘I am hugely supportive of Growth Through People as it underlines the power of employer collaboration. Businesses working together in partnership with each other and with education is, I believe, the most effective way to build a sustainable UK skills system to reduce unemployment and fill the skills gap.’

UK Gov news

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Arson destroys ‘fantastic’ replica Roman house at Poole

One of the country’s most authentic replications of a Roman’s home could be lost to learners after arson attack despair for organisers and volunteers.

Culture24 writes:
More than 1,000 schoolchildren a year were inspired by one of the country’s most authentic replications of a Roman’s home, razed in a blaze on Monday evening in Poole.

Changes to the curriculum had seen the space become increasingly popular. The funding for its rebuild is uncertain, potentially threatening the future of the learning service which made such productive use of the prehistoric site.

‘It was a reconstructed salt worker’s dwelling and conforms to a type of building only found in East Dorset,’ said Dr Trudie Cole, the Learning and Access Manager for Poole.

‘The Roman House was built using authentic techniques and based on excavation data from a house from Ower, in Purbeck.

‘The building seems to be a unique sub type found on in East Dorset. We believe it was the only reconstruction of its type in the world.

‘It was a fantastic resource for schools, used exclusively for educational purposes.’

Only the charred structure and some of the lime panels from the house remain. Local residents reacted to the news with dismay on Twitter.

‘This makes me very sad and angry,’ wrote one. ‘My kids loved going there when you opened it to the public.’

‘I was only there with my son’s school trip last month,’ said a fellow supporter.

‘It really brought history to life for them.’

Michael Spender, the town’s Museum and Arts Manager, said the attack – which is being treated as malicious by Dorset Police, who were called to a previous fire when a bird hide was set alight in 2013 – had left staff at Poole Museum and volunteers who had restored the house ‘heartbroken’.

‘We also feel extremely sorry for all the children whose school workshops are going to be affected,’ he added.

‘We will of course be making alternative arrangements to minimise disruption.’

The rest of Upton Country Park has remained open to the public. Anyone with information is asked to telephone Dorset Police on 101.

Culture 24 article

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IHBC SC Branch update from Scotland’s Towns Conference

IHBC Table at Scotland's Town conference

The Scotland (SC) Branch of the IHBC hosted a round-table session at the Scotland’s Towns Conference in Paisley on 19 November, where it explored ‘a positive future for our historic buildings’ at one of the biggest events of its type in Scotland.

The day was introduced by Minister for Local Government & Planning, Derek Mackay MSP, while running the IHBC Branch ‘Drop in’ table discussion were volunteers Deborah Mays, CEO of The Heritage Place, and Alison McCandlish, IHBC’s NewsBlogs consultant and CEO of Crenellated Arts.  IHBC member Dennis Rodwell also hosted a ‘Drop in’ session on ‘The Importance of & Tools for Cross-Cutting Community Engagement’.

Conference discussions encompassed topics as diverse as:

  • Heritage funding
  • Training for apprentices
  • Procurement processes
  • Careers in heritage
  • ‘New uses for old buildings’
  • How Local Authorities can work with the community
  • Membership routes in IHBC
  • Specification of quality materials for public realm work
  • Re-use of historic buildings
  • Community ownership of historic properties
  • Good practice (and bad practice!) examples
  • The role of urban regeneration companies in historic towns

Alison McCandlish said: ‘It was a great opportunity to showcase the work of the IHBC and its members and promote discussion on the positive role which the historic environment plays in the life of our towns and cities.  The conference itself was a wonderful chance to find out about projects locally, nationally and internationally, all in one place, from practitioners who were representing the business community, Local Authorities, private consultants, academics, artists and creative industries, project funders and much more.’

Deborah Mays, highlighting the importance of the conference’s drive to make a difference in town centres by looking at issues beyond retail, said: ‘The importance of the character of the environment in contributing to the socio- economic life of towns, and the cultural offering available were highlighted across the day.  This clearly demonstrated the importance of history and heritage in a town’s viability, a point emphasised across the IHBC’s research and publications, not least its advocacy paper on ‘The value of heritage’.

View the full programme for the day

View the PechaKucha presentation on the cultural development of Paisley using a cultural led regeneration approach (delivered by Gayle McPherson and Graham Jeffrey)

View more information about Behind the Finish Line project and its partners, as well as its role in helping re-use and regenerate vacant and under-used spaces

Find out more about Impact Arts

View information and a video about the Young Gallery

Springboard’s swift and affective anaylsis of marketing patterns.

Dowload the IHBC publication ‘Valuing historic places’

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RTPI centenary survey- 79% want more say in planning

A new survey commissioned by the RTPI in its centenary year reveals interesting trends in public perceptions of their community and local economy, as well as the desire to have more say over planning affecting their lives. 

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) writes:
A poll commissioned to mark the centenary of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI),  the professional body representing 23,000 planners working in the public, private, charitable and education sectors, reveals an overwhelming majority of the public (79%) want a bigger say over the development of their communities.

The results are based on a nationally-representative survey of 2,083 UK adults conducted on behalf of the RTPI by Populus, 22nd-23rd October 2014.

According to the RTPI survey, people generally rate their local area as a good place to live (49% think their area is good, and 21% think it is excellent), but just 52% think that local services are generally of good quality. Many people have a very downbeat view of their local economy:

  • 48% of people think their local area offers too few economic opportunities;
  • 30% think their area has got worse over the past five years;
  • Only 36% think their local economy will improve over the next five years.
  • One in four people say they are likely to move away from their local area in the next five years.

The findings also show local people believe that investing directly in their communities is the best route to economic growth. More than 4 in 10 believe their political leaders are unprepared for future economic challenges and almost a third feel their area has declined over the past five years. 

RTPI survey results and summary infographics

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