September 2013 Newsletter

September 2013 Newsletter

Director's Message

I hope you have all enjoyed the late and lasting summer as much as we have in the HTF / ASHTAV office! As you may have gathered from previous missives, the Historic Towns Forum has been sharing an office at Kellogg College, Oxford, with the Association of Small Historic Towns and Villages. We have been working in an increasingly close partnership, and have this year jointly hosted 3 successful events - Planning Legislation update – The NPPF, Neighbourhood Planning, Taylor Review, and the Red Tape Challenge. Where are we, exactly? (London); Community Engagement – it’s real, it’s now and it’s happening. Sharing good practice from within our cities, towns and Neighbourhood Areas (St Albans);  and Engaging businesses and communities with the tourism economy in historic towns – how to work with BIDs, Neighbourhood Plans and the USP of your area (Hereford) - with further joint events to come in Durham (Tourism and Heritage Issues), Milton Keynes (Annual Conference - New Towns, Garden Cities and Utopian Masterplanning), Exeter (Growth in Historic Areas and the Green Belt Issue) and Poundbury (Heritage Tourism, Ruralism and Businesses in a Broadband Age)(see below for more details). In these times of less funding and resources it makes sense to advance partnership working, and we are grateful to ASHTAV for the opportunity to make the most of our shared aims. One of several potential outcomes of this partnership is the Oxford Seminar Series, which will be starting in January in conjunction with the University of Oxford. For the 2014 year we will be focusing on New Towns and Ideas of Utopia - historical, current and futuristic. Proceedings of papers will be published as a continuing series. If you are interested in attending and /or presenting / offering papers for publications, please do get in touch. We are particularly interested in fostering partnerships between academics, practioners public and private, and corporates.
Another area of particular interest through our association with ASHTAV is the rural question - rural broadband, how this affects the public realm and also how it affects local businesses, and in particular tourism and placemaking SMEs who rely so heavily on the broadband agenda in our rural areas. How do we marry things like the sympathetic design for broadband boxes in historic areas with the need for fast access to the internet, and how does this affect the high street and how local businesses survive, thrive and offer a complete visitor experience? We will be exploring this issue at Our Poundbury conference - Poundbury itself being an interesting (sometimes controversial) forward thinking example of social and physical (rural and urban) masterplanning. And this will follow on from our November Annual Conference in Milton Keynes – how to plan for  scale and physical masterplanning in our historic areas where new developments need to be more than just 'bolt ons'?

We’re currently planning for 2014 and beyond, so if you have any ideas or want to talk through these issues then do let us know what you think. Please take this opportunity to tell us what you want from your membership. What would you like us to focus on? What areas would you like us to research on your behalf? We'd also really like to know what kind of resources you would find helpful to access. This is your forum – please continue to help us shape it in a way that fits with the future of historic towns.

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?

Latest news

IHBC Elects New Chair

Mike Brown, formerly the IHBC’s Policy Secretary, has been elected as its new chair.

Read more here

New Chairman for English Heritage

Sir Laurie Magnus has been appointed Chairman of English Heritage by the Culture Secretary Maria Miller. Sir Laurie, who is currently Deputy Chairman of the National Trust will take over from the present EH Chairman, Baroness Kay Andrews, on 1st September.

Read more here

Design Council appoints new Director of Architecture and the Built Environment

The Design Council has appointed Clare Devine as its new director of architecture and the built environment. The Design Council states that ‘Clare has 25 years experience in architecture and has been a director of three practices working in fields of housing, regeneration, education, public, civic and cultural buildings.’

For full details see here

Shortfall of housing land supply for SW and NW

According to reports from consultants Turley Associates there will need to be 110,000 new homes  in SW England within the next five years but there is currently land supply for 87,000 leaving a shortfall of 23,000. For the NW there is an estimated need for over 178,000 new homes with current land supply for just over 138,000 leaving a shortfall of over 40,000.

Read more here

Essex Green Belt Housing Stopped By Pickles

Eric Pickles has overturned a decision of the Planning Inspectorate to grant consent for 165 new homes on Green Belt land near Thundersley in Essex. He acknowledged that there was ‘a severe lack of forward  housing land supply’  but considered that the development would have caused a ‘considerable level of harm to the character, openness and appearance’ of the Green Belt land.

Read more here

Court of Appeal rejects HS2 challenge

The Court of Appeal has rejected challenges to the first phase of the London to Birmingham high speed rail link brought by HS2 Action Alliance. The objectors, led by 15 local authorities, claimed that the Government failed to consult properly and had not complied with various EU environmental directives.

£220m affordable housing allocations announced

The DCLG has announced that £220m of funding to support new affordable housing will be allocated to 69 housing associations and used to provide 13,896 new homes outside London between 2015 and 2017. The allocations are from a total pot of £450m held by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Environment Agency and Natural England to Remain Separate

The triennial review of the Environment Agency and Natural England carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has concluded that the 2 organisations should remain as separate public bodies but that both should continue to reform how they deliver their services.

Green Belts under threat

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has published figures which show that 150,000 new houses, and 1,000 hectares of mines, offices and warehousing are currently planned for Green Belt sites. CPRE questions whether the Government’s pledge to prevent building in the Green Belt other than in exceptional circumstances is being implemented effectively.

Read more here

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013

This act received Royal Assent on 26th April. It contains a package of legal reforms intended reduce regulation and promote growth. The Act includes a number of changes to the legal framework affecting heritage in England which are intended to provide new and simpler ways to protect and manage heritage assets. These provisions are:

  • New Listed Building Heritage Partnership Agreements;
  • Introduction of a system of Local and National Listed Building Consent Orders;
  • Introduction of Certificates of Lawfulness of Works to Listed Buildings;
  • Conservation Area Consent replaced by requirement for planning permission;
  • More listed building entries;
  • Certificates of Immunity from listing can be sought at any time.

Changes relating to listed building entries and Certificates of Immunity are expected to come into force within two months. Changes which affect the management of listed buildings and the merger of Conservation Area Consent and Planning Permission will require secondary legislation and will take longer to come into force.

English Heritage have prepared a voice-over presentation explaining the changes and are planning training sessions for the autumn. For details see here

Also read more here

High Street Renewal Funding

Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk has announced the seven urban areas that will receive a share of the Government’s £1m High Street Renewal Award. They are:

  • Herne Hill, London, where a thriving town square and market has been created in the heart of the community;
  • Northam Road, Southampton, where strong local leadership and a public/private partnership is transferring the High Street into a regional antiques centre;
  • Altrincham, Greater Manchester, where landlords and retailers are working together to bring empty shops back into use;
  • Ipswich, where the town centre has been reorientated and linked to a new waterfront development;
  • Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, where the local market has been strengthened and community shops opened offering local products;
  • Gloucester, where local start ups have resulted in record new company registrations;
  • Rotherham, where independent businesses  have taken empty premises.

For full details see here

BEFS Small Towns Initiative

Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) has identified small towns as a critical, but too often neglected component of Scotland’s built environment. ‘They are important to Scotland’s identity, its tourism offer and, of course, to the local economies and residents they serve. However, such places also seem to be facing major challenges in terms of retaining their services, as well as their character.’ BEFS has issued reports on small towns throughout Scotland.

For details see here

London Blue Plaque Scheme saved

English Heritage’s Blue Plaque Scheme for London which recognises significant buildings in the lives of notable people from the past, but which had been suspended due to lack of funding, has been saved following a donation by property developer David Pearl and support from the Evening Standard.

Read more here

Comprehensive Spending review

The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s comprehensive spending review , announced on 26th June, included wide ranging plans for overall Government spending and borrowing, funding for government departments, and capital  expenditure. The following day the Chief Secretary to the treasury announced details of the infrastructure projects which will receive capital funding from 2015/16. The plans include:

  • Council Tax to be frozen for a further 2 years;
  • £3bn committed to capital investment in affordable housing;
  • DCLG budget cut by 10% for revenue (leading to a 10% cut in local authority funding) and 35.6% for capital;
  • Shale gas extraction to be encouraged by tax and planning changes; the Government has committed to publish guidance on extraction in the summer;
  • £9.5bn increase in capital funding for transport;
  • Museums to have more freedom from central government;
  • Lord Heseltine’s proposal for a single local growth fund to receive funding but less than he proposed. Local Enterprise Partnerships will be able to bid for up to £2bn per year.

HCA delivery priorities for 2013 – 2015

The Homes and Communities Agency has set out the ways in which it will help realise Government aspirations for affordable housing and economic growth over the next two years.

Volunteers and Interns

The Historic Towns Forum welcomes volunteers and Interns at our Oxford Office – would you like to join us?

For the first time the Historic Towns Forum has welcomed volunteers and interns to help with some of the policy elements of our work. We would like to extend a warm welcome to Dennis Stevenson, a planner by qualification, who has helped with our excellent legal updates, and Neil Monaghan, ex-Oxford City Council, who has been helping with the planning elements of the newsletter. Recently a sixth form student from Hereford Cathedral School, Freya Taylor, undertook some valuable marketing and PR work experience for us. We would also like to introduce Rebecca Payne, a student about to commence her MSC in Urban Studies at UCL, who will undertake a brief internship with us.

If you, or anyone you know, would like to volunteer or undertake short or long-term work experience with us in any area of marketing, planning, retail, or working in historic towns in general then please do get in touch – you will be very welcome! Our current volunteers and interns work both remotely and from within the Oxford office – we can arrange times and venues to suit!

Events and Seminars

Forthcoming Historic Towns Events

We are shortly to announce a series of Oxford Seminars in conjunction with HTF partners ASHTAV, HTF hosts, Kellogg College, and the University of Oxford’s Department for Continuing Education at Rewley House. These seminars (beginning in January 2014) will carry a single theme each year, and will follow with published proceedings and additional papers. The topic for 2014 is likely to be New Towns and Ideas of Utopia. We are inviting papers from practioners and academics, and hope to cover all facets of the topic, including historical context and future planning. To register your interest to attend and / or to contribute papers, please contact us here

Historic Towns Forum and Tourism Management Institute joint Durham event October 16-18

On October 16-18 the Historic Towns Forum and the Tourism Management Institute will be holding a joint event in Durham covering several matters concerning Heritage and Tourism. Discounts are available for HTF members. HTF and Blue Sail (an HTF member) will be speaking as well as many other experts from both the Tourism and Heritage sectors. Places and sponsorship packages are still available. Book here

Historic Towns Forum Annual Conference - New Towns, Garden Cities and Utopian Masterplanning  - Milton Keynes November - save the date

Our Annual Conference on New Towns, Garden Cities and Utopian Masterplanning, to be held in Milton Keynes, is almost ready to launch. We’ve a range of interesting and controversial speakers, looking at several topical elements of masterplanning, social engineering, and the perennial question of new towns in historic areas. Date TBA, but is likely to be the last week of November. Watch this space and register your interest here

Historic Towns Forum and ASHTAV joint event  - Growth in Historic Areas and the Green Belt Issue - November – save the date

The Historic Towns Forum and new partners, the Association of Small Historic Towns and Villages, will be holding their first joint event on the issue of growth in historic areas, particularly those with a rural focus. The date is still to be confirmed but is likely to be towards the end of November. Watch this space and register your interest here

Historic Towns Forum and ASHTAV event – England Tourism Week – Poundbury April 3 2014 – Heritage Tourism, Ruralism and Businesses in a Broadband Age

The Historic Towns Forum will be holding its second National Tourism Conference during England Tourism week on April 3 2014. The event, looking at Heritage Tourism, Ruralism and Businesses in a Broadband Age will focus particularly on rural heritage and tourism issues and how Broadband provision affects this, among other topical issues. The event will be VisitEngland supported and will include tours around Poundbury, the often controversial and fascinating housing development instigated by HTF Patron, HRH Prince Charles. Register your interest here

Heritage Open Days

The annual Heritage Open Days will be held in towns and cities throughout the country between Thursday 12th and Sunday 15th September. The theme for this year will be celebrating the history makers. Hundreds of buildings that are not normally open to the public will be opened free of charge.   

Read more here

IHBC Bristol conference

The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) SW branch day conference on “Characterisation…Making sense of place” will be held at Circomedia, Bristol on 20th September. Full details of the conference are now available on the IHBC web site.

Read more here

IHBC London conference

The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) London branch will hold a conference on 2nd October. The conference theme will be “A Risky Business”, considering practical solutions for heritage at risk. The venue will be the Royal College of Physicians, Regents Park.

Read more here

Scotland’s Towns Week 18-24 November

This recent annual event celebrating Scotland’s towns also included their annual conference: ‘Whose town is it anyway?’ on 22 November in Inverness. Read more here

Festival of Scottish architecture

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has announced that in 2016 it will hold a year- long celebration of Scotland’s architecture. The festival will coincide with the centenary of the Incorporation.

Read more here

IED November Conference

The Institute of Economic Development (IED) will hold a one day conference on “Going for Growth” on 20th November. The conference will be held in Westminster, London.


HLF funding for historic places of worship

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced that more than £12m is to be provided to help secure the future of 96 of the UK’s historic places of worship. This is the first allocation under the New Grants for Places of Worship Scheme launched in March.

Read more here

HLF grant for The Heritage Alliance

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded a grant of £12,100 to help The Heritage Alliance to develop its proposal for a partnership with the Institute of Fundraisers intended to provide assistance to heritage and local organisations in securing funding for heritage assets.

Read more here

Icon secures funding support to develop the conservation workforce

Icon, the Institute of Conservation, is delighted to announce that it has secured a second year of funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to deliver the National Conservation Education & Skills Strategy. This means that the Foundation will have supported half of the five-year period of the Strategy. The NCESS supports the vision of an educated, skilled and diverse workforce to ensure that the UK’s rich heritage is preserved and accessible. The conservation workforce is critical to preserving these valuable cultural assets

Read more here


Property Owner and Business Improvement Districts – 17 September

The HTF is preparing a response to this consultation which is due on 17 September. If you would like to offer comments on our drafts please contact us as soon as possible here

Gift Aid and digital Giving – 20 September

European Commission Consultation on Sustainable Buildings – 01 October

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Consultation on funding reform for apprenticeships in England - 01 October

Welsh Government Consultation on proposals for the historic environment in Wales - 11 October

Opportunity to comment on new online planning resource

Planning Minister Nick Boles has announced that the Government's new online planning resource is now live, containing new planning practice guidance to complement the National Planning Policy Framework. This will be available on trial until 9 October 2013. Those interested are asked to comment on content before its Autumn launch. To review the material and to comment, please click here

CLG announces new permitted development rights

The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) has published proposals for the extension of permitted development rights to allow:

  • Shops and financial and professional services premises to change use to a single dwelling;
  • Existing buildings of up to 150 sq. metres used for agricultural purposes to change to residential use;
  • Retail uses to change to banks and building societies;
  • Premises used as offices, hotels, residential and non-residential institutions and leisure and assembly to change use to nurseries providing child care;
  • Buildings of up to 500 sq. metres used for agriculture to be used for a new state funded school or a nursery providing child care.

The proposals are open for consultation until 15th October 2013.

Read more here

Housing Standards Review Consultation

The Government has commenced a consultation on its proposal to introduce national standards for new housing following the report in 2012 of the group led by Sir John Harman. The Government is considering either issuing a new set of standards to replace the various existing standards for energy, accessibility, security, water and space set by local government and central government agencies, or fully integrating such standards into the Building Regulations. The consultation is open until 22nd October.

Read more here

Publications and Toolkits

The Changing Face of the High Street: Decline and Revival: a review of retail and town centre issues in historic issues

This useful and topical publication on the state of the current high street was released in June by English Heritage and Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners, after close consultation with the Historic Towns Forum and their members and with further help from Strutt & Parker. It replaces and updates previous HTF and EH publications on the theme of retail and the high street in historic areas. Hard copies are available free from the HTF or English Heritage, and may be downloaded here

Planning guidance on street clutter, road humps, town centre parking and ensuring the vitality of town centres

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced that new planning guidance is to be issued which will encourage more town centre parking spaces, tackle the blight of ugly street clutter and aggressive ‘anti-car’ traffic calming measures. The guidance will also refer to the use of transport assessments and statements in decision making, and ensuring the vitality of town centres.

Read more here

Government response to review of planning practice guidance

The Government has published its response to the review of planning practice guidance led by Lord Taylor. The response includes details of the responses to the consultation which was undertaken between December 2012 and February 2013. The Government has accepted the majority of the report’s recommendations with the exception of those on signposting best practice material and cancellation of out of date guidance.

Wind turbine noise assessment guide published

The Institute of Acoustics (IOA) has published guidance on noise assessment procedures used to measure the noise emitted by wind turbines. The guide was prepared in response to a request by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It sets out what should be good practice for assessing the noise from proposed wind turbines and should be useful for acoustics planners, planning consultants,  local planning authorities, developers, the planning inspectorate and the public.

CPRE report on effect of NPPF

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has issued the results of research on the effects of the National Planning Policy Framework. CPRE President Andrew Motion has described it as “ground breaking in all the wrong ways”. CPRE evidence indicates:

  • The requirement  to supply at least five years’ worth of ‘deliverable’  sites for new housing is being used to push through unnecessary and damaging development in open countryside.
  • Greenfield sites are being developed when suitable Brownfield sites are available.
  • Localism is being undermined because councils have not been given enough time to get up to date local plans in place.

For full details of the report see here

Scottish Government Launches National Policy for Architecture

The Scottish Government has launched a national policy on architecture; ‘Creating Places’. The policy sets out ‘the comprehensive value good design can deliver’.

Read more here

Seaside Towns – Centre For Social Justice report

The Centre For Social Justice has published a report which examines and comments on conditions at 5 of the U.K.’s seaside towns: Rhyl, Margate, Clacton-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth and Blackpool. The report warns that after years of decline and loss of popularity as holiday resorts these, and other such towns, are suffering social breakdown.

Read more here

Taskforce final report on Tree Health

The Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce has published its final report with recommendations on how best to address the threats posed by plant pests and pathogens to the Country’s trees and plants. The recommendations in the report ‘range from the development of a Plant Health Risk Register in order to identify and prioritise the main risks, through implementation of procedures for preparedness and contingency planning, to strengthening biosecurity at the borders and to minimising the impact of pests and disease within the UK.’ The report proposes the roles to be played by Government, industry, other stakeholders and the public.

Read more here

The State of Nature

The inaugural State of Nature report has been published by a coalition of UK conservation and research organisations. The aim of the report is to produce an authoritative assessment of the changing fortunes of nature in the UK.

Read more here

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.

New members

A warm welcome to our newest members:

Mark Barnes, Revive & Thrive

Haydn Morris, Terrence O’Rourke Ltd

Dan Skipworth-Mitchell, Rentalite

Tetbury Town Council

Paul Daykin

Cllr Jason Kay


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?



working in partnership with:

Follow us

If you would prefer to no longer receive these e-mails please
e-mail including 'unsubscribe' in the subject line.


Sent from: Historic Towns Forum, Kellogg College, 60-62 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX14 1PN