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.