May 2013 Newsletter

May 2013 Newsletter

Director's Message

Dear HTF Member/Subscriber

Happy May Day to you all! And what a way to celebrate the final and much-awaited advent of Spring! I began my day at 4am with a 6 mile walk along the historic tow path from Abingdon to Oxford, in order to see the choristers singing from the tower of Magdalen Chapel at 6am. And what a glorious start to the day! The sun rising over Iffley Lock; the historic buildings along the canal side; the centuries of history of which we are all such an important part; as inhabitants, as participants and as custodians for the future. Which in some ways was the subtext of Maria Miller’s recent speech  on culture at the British Museum. In an age of austerity and in light of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review she urged us all ‘to get a proper grasp of the economic impact of culture’, both in terms of domestic and international draw. The streets of Oxford were packed at 6 am. As I walked to work after the singing to post this newsletter, bars and cafes were open serving drinks; people were dancing outside (and I don’t just mean the Morris Dancers, although they were in abundance); bands were playing – and the visitor economy was booming – both from domestic and international visitors. There is a fine balance to be found in conserving what we are proud of from the past, and in allowing it to develop in a modern way within a soundly-planned infrastructure, without losing the beauty of the tradition that makes it so attractive in the first place. It seems the message that heritage is an economic driver and regenerative tool that is part of a whole cultural offer may finally be getting through to Government. Let’s continue to work on this together. The HTF will continue to push this issue with our suite of interdisciplinary events, for which, see below.

And on that note, again, Happy May Day! I am off to dance in the streets and celebrate our heritage with the best of them.

Latest news

Bills receive Royal Assent

Last week the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill and the Growth and Infrastructure Bill received Royal Assent and became Acts of Law. The implications of this for the historic built environment were discussed in some detail at our recent event on Heritage Planning Law. Civic Voice in particular have been proactive in ensuring that controversial amendments to permitted development rights concerning single story extensions in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill were temporarily laid to rest. Read more>>

Neighbourhood Planning – HTF Chair involved in winning partnership

DCLG provides support for neighbourhood plans. Communities Minister Dom Foster has announced a £9.5 million 2 year fund to support groups of people who wish to create neighbourhood plans. Individual grants will be up to £7000. The partnership is led by Locality and includes HTF Chair and HESPR designated advisor Dave Chetwyn, who, in his role as Managing Director of Urban Vision CIC, said: ‘Urban Vision is very pleased to be involved with this important programme. Communities are already demonstrating that they are well able to plan for the future of their local neighbourhoods and to take tough decisions to secure sustainable growth’. Read more>>

HTF – Planning Legislation update – the NPPF, Neighbourhood Planning, Taylor Review and the Red Tape Challenge. Where are we, exactly?

On 29 April we held our third annual heritage law planning update event with HTF sponsor, Bircham Dyson Bell, at their offices in central London. 18 months after the Localism Act and one year on from the National Planning Policy Framework, our panel of experts explained exactly where we are now in relation to heritage planning and government guidance. Speakers from Bircham Dyson Bell, the Department for Communities and Local Government, Locality, English Heritage, the Historic Towns Forum, and HTF sponsor CgMs Consulting, debated the issues, and while showing the positive opportunities available within the new regime, also delivered in some cases a somewhat damning indictment of Government’s approach to heritage planning issues. Presentations will shortly be available for members on our website – watch this space >>

HTF Neighbourhood Planning and Community Engagement Event – St Albans 19/20 May

Following on from our legislation update event, we take the issues raised by the Neighbourhood Planning segment and examine them in fine detail, alongside Community Engagement and actual case studies showing good practice. Please join us! For further information and to book read more>>

New Director General for Localism at DCLG

Helen Edwards has been appointed Director General for Localism at the Department of Communities and Local Government. Read more>>

DCLG publishes proposals to reform CIL regulations

The DCLG has published proposals to reform the Community Infrastructure Levy. The consultation will run until 28 May 2013. Read more>>

Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey launches new review of architecture and the built environment

An independent review is to be undertaken by architect Sir Terry Farrell. It will look at four main areas:

  • Understanding the Government’s role in promoting design quality in architecture and the built environment;
  • The economic benefits of architecture – maximising the UK’s growth potential;
  • Cultural heritage and the built environment; and
  • Promoting education outreach and skills.

Sir Terry will be supported by an expert advisory panel made up of members from across architecture and design industry which look at the themes in more detail. The report should be produced by the end of the year. Read more>>

Planning Minister believes commerce has place in conservation

Speaking at the Annual Heritage of London Trust’s meeting at Westminster Hall, Planning Minister Nick Boles recognised that profit was a good incentive for developers to practice good design, and made the case for commercially-driven conservation, while defending development on greenbelts. This comes along with other comments during a speech to large scale property developers in London that ‘new developments are quite likely to be ugly’. Read more>>

The Law Commission’s Conservation Covenants Consultation

The Law Commission has launched a consultation on its suggestion that a new legal tool is needed to help conservation efforts by private landowners. A conservation covenant is a private, voluntary agreement between a landowner and another body such as a conservation charity. The agreement commits the landowner to meet specific conservation obligations. These could be, for example, to maintain a habitat or preserve a historic building. If the land is sold the obligation passes to the new owner.
The Commission is asking whether conservation covenants should be introduced and, if so:

  • Who should be able to agree a conservation covenant;
  • What conservation objectives would be sufficiently important to justify one;
  • How should they be monitored and enforced; and
  • When and how can the terms be changed or a conservation covenant be brought to an end.

The consultation is open until the 21st June. Read more>>

IHBC response to Review of Planning Practice Guidance

The Institute of Historic Building Conservation has responded to the consultation on planning practice guidance in England, noting broad agreement with the recommendations despite reservations about the timescale, resource commitments and the way some critical guidance may be withdrawn before credible replacements are available. Read more>>

Revised household projections

The latest national statistics on the projected number of households in England shows a lower growth than previously predicted. The latest estimate is that the number of households in England will grow to 24.3 million in 2021, an increase of 2.2 million over 2011. Read more>>

New Regeneration Framework for Wales

The Welsh Minister for Housing, regeneration and Heritage, Huw Lewis, has launched the Welsh Government’s new regeneration framework – Vibrant and Viable Places. The new framework is the result of a review and consultation that took place during 2012. Intensive investment of up to £30 million applied to a small number of key places will be used to support local growth in town centres, coastal communities and Communities First clusters. The investment will be aligned with other Welsh Government policies – such as Communities First – and a more collaborative approach will be taken between the public, private and third sectors. Read more>>

Museums and Galleries to benefit from lifetime giving incentive

A new scheme that allows people and companies to donate cultural treasures in return for a reduction in their tax liability came into effect in March. The Cultural Gifts Scheme (CGS) allows owners of objects or collections to donate them for the benefit of the public or the nation and in return receive a tax reduction based on a set percentage of the value of the donation. Read more>>

RTPI Planning Excellence Awards shortlist announced

The RPTI has announced the schemes on the shortlist for its Planning Excellence awards for 2013. They include the redevelopment of Kings Cross Station, public realm regeneration in Belfast, and the Nine Elms regeneration project in South London. Read more>>

Tourism Survey shows increases in visitor numbers and expenditure

The latest surveys of tourism in the UK by Visit Britain show increases in the numbers of visitors and the income from tourism for the 3 months from December 2012 to February 2013. Read more>>

Graduate careers in heritage survey

A new survey on graduate careers in heritage is being undertaken by youngfreeandmuseumminded. If you would like to take part in the survey read more>>

English Heritage Angel Awards 2013 – Deadline extended to Sunday 19 May 2013

The deadline for applications to this year’s Angel Awards has been extended to encourage as many people as possible to apply. English Heritage is keen to receive entries from all sorts of different people and for all sorts of different projects.  You don’t have to be part of a local community group to apply. English Heritage is also keen to hear from commercial organisations, private companies and private owners. Find out more about last year’s winners and how to apply>>

Events and Seminars

Historic Towns Forum 19/20 May St Albans.

Community Engagement – it’s real, it’s now and it’s happening. Sharing good practice from within our cities, towns and Neighbourhood Areas.

Community Engagement and Neighbourhood Planning are happening. Despite cynicism around the effectiveness and dissemination of, as well as engagement with, the Localism Act, communities are doing just that - engaging effectively and seizing the opportunities that Government has handed to them. Just over 18 months on from the passing of the Act we examine in detail those proactive communities who are leading by example, and take a look at some of the first neighbourhood plans, as well as at some community groups' particular brand of 'muscular Localism'. Come along and learn what is being done, how to do it, and meet those groups who are leading the way. The opportunities are there. Take them while you can! For more information and to book read more>>

Forthcoming Historic Towns Events

We are shortly to announce forthcoming linked events on Garden Cities and New Towns in Milton Keynes (July) and Poundbury (November). Dates and venues to be announced shortly. Register your interest here

Heritage Conservation and Tourism – who Benefits? Who Pays? 21 June, Brighton University

Special discounts for HTF members. For more information and to book read more>>

Historic Towns Forum and Tourism Management Institute joint Durham event – save the date!

On October 15-17 the Historic Towns Forum and the Tourism Management Institute will be holding a joint event in Durham covering several matters concerning Heritage and Tourism. Register your interest here

Register now for Heritage Open Days in 2013

Local organisations intending to hold heritage open days in 2013 can register their events at


HLF to accept grant applications from private interests

The Heritage Lottery Fund will now accept applications for grants of up to £100,000 for capital projects under its Our Heritage programme from private individuals and commercial organisations. Read more>>

New HLF Heritage Enterprise scheme announced

The HLF has also announced a new grant scheme aimed at unlocking the economic potential of historic buildings and sites across the UK. Heritage Enterprise will provide grants of between £100,000 and £5m to support the repair, adaptation and refurbishment of buildings, turning them into offices, workshops or flats. Community groups are being encouraged to work with private developers to achieve their aims. Read more>>

Coastal Communities Fund

The Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) will encourage economic development of UK coastal communities by giving them funding to create sustainable economic growth and jobs.
The Government has committed £27.8 million to support the CCF in 2013/14 with money generated by the Crown Estate’s marine assets. The Big Lottery Fund is delivering the CCF on behalf of the Government. Funding awards of over £50,000 are available and are open to a wide range of organisations including local authorities, charities and private sector companies. Read more>>


Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) consultation. The SPP is a statement of Scottish Government policy on how nationally important land use matters should be addressed. Consultation on a review of SPP is to commence in Spring 2013.
The Law Commission’s Conservation Covenants Consultation. Deadline June 21

Publications and Toolkits

Historic Towns Forum Heritage Law Update

This briefing note identifies the principal changes to the Heritage Protection Regime since May 2010 and lists those proposals which are intended to be implemented shortly. Readers seeking a comprehensive review of the current system are referred to the English Heritage ‘Guide to Heritage Protection in England’ which is a helpful on-line source. This note relates specifically to the situation in England. Read more>>
Look out also for our forthcoming updates on Community Engagement and Heritage Tourism and Planning, out in May. They will shortly be on this link.

Preservation and Progress – the story of Chester since 1960

A new book by Peter de Figueiredo and Cyril Morris. Edited by Stephen Langtree.
Is Chester an ‘historic city’ or a ‘modern city’; a finely balanced and well managed combination of the two, or an uncomfortable and paranoid victim of a split personality? It’s a dilemma highlighted, if not created, by our Victorian forebears, and played out in good measure since the end of the Second World War. Read more>>

HTF new member City-Insights bring site-specific, Smartphone friendly, amazing stories to your streets

There’s a new way to be part of cities, streets and communities. City-Insights create a unique, multimedia experience about the place where you’re standing using your Smartphone. They tell vivid human stories, find forgotten footage, vintage photos, illustrations and contemporary interviews. To see how they animate places with personal, cultural and heritage, or to find out more about their bespoke approach to working with street signage, QR codes and pop-up
events, read more>>

Constructive Conservation – Sustainable Growth for Historic Places

This English Heritage report shows how a conservation led approach to the adaptation of historic buildings can contribute to job creation, business growth and economic prosperity. Thirty six case studies include new hotels in London and Ipswich, retail and office developments in Bristol and Yorkshire and converted industrial buildings in Derbyshire and Stoke on Trent. Read more>>

Heritage Help

Heritage Help is a new website providing advice, information and help to individuals and organisations on a wide range of heritage related matters. Read more>>

Planning System in Scotland – Main Issues report publication

The NPF3 Main Issues report and draft Scottish Planning Policy will be published after the Easter Parliamentary Recess. This will be followed a 12 week period of consultation. Revised Participation Statements will be published at the same time, setting out opportunities for stakeholders to get involved in the next stages of the process. Read more>>

HLF research demonstrates contemporary value of heritage

A report by HLF, undertaken with Oxford Economics and Colliers International shows that areas of cities with a higher density of listed buildings also have a higher concentration of business linked to the creative and knowledge economy. Read more>>

HTF membership

We invite professionals working in the historic built environment to join the membership. If you would like to enjoy the benefits such as discounts to our topical events and the chance to network with our Local Authority, Corporate, Private and Individual members, as well as with Agencies, Civic Societies, Community Groups and Sponsors, please visit this link to our website to join.


About us

The Historic Towns Forum (HTF) has been supporting professionals and other members working in the historic built environment since 1987. Why not become a member?




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