December 2013 Newsletter

December 2013 Newsletter

Director’s Message

Well, what a busy few months it has been! With our events in November on Growth in Exeter and New Towns in Milton Keynes (presentations and events due shortly), and our AGM and Annual Partners’ Dinner this week, we have been rushed off our feet! It has been a successful and rewarding year with our new hosts, Kellogg College, at the University of Oxford, and we look forward to many more.

We have an exciting year programme of events planned for the first half of next year (see below) and would like your input on what you’d like to see us cover from June onwards, both in terms of topic and location. Among the events planned is a free members’ Skills’ Summit focusing on the continuing and increasing gap in Local Authorities of Conservation, Heritage, and Archaeological Officers. This will be your chance, as members, to tell us what you need us to do to help fill that gap.

An important outcome from our AGM was the ratification of our intention to merge with the Association of Small Historic Towns and Villages at the end of 2014. It makes sense at this time to align ourselves with an organisation with similar aims; this will also broaden our remit into the areas of rural settlements, and smaller historical settlements. If you’d like any further information on this, or on anything else discussed at the AGM, then please do get in touch.  Sadly we would like also to extend our best wishes and grateful thanks to long-standing HTF and HTF Executive member, Brian Human, who, after many years of incredible service, has decided to stand down. We are pleased though, to report that he will stay a member.

Several consultations (see below) that of importance to the heritage sector are coming up in the new year: in particular please do respond to the English Heritage New Model consultation or let us know your views, and we will include them in our responses.

And finally, please find attached a copy of our Annual report for 2012-13. Happy reading and have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. The Historic Towns Forum are very much looking forward to working with you all again in the New Year.

Latest news

HS2 benefits doubted

The Public Accounts Committee has issued a report which says that the Department for Transport has failed to present a convincing strategic case for the HS2 rail link. The committee felt that the stated benefits were based on fragile numbers and out of date data, and that the line would not help the growth of regional cities. At the same time the estimated costs have risen to £50bn which, it is argued, could be more effectively used to improve the existing rail network.
A further report on the regional economic impacts of HS2 commissioned by The Department for Transport and written by KPMG has given details of the areas which will suffer financially as a consequence of HS2. The worst affected areas will be;
  • Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City and Moray
  • North East
  • Dundee and Angus
  • Cardiff
  • North West

The Government has stressed that HS2 will provide economic benefits to the country overall and that more regions will benefit than will suffer. Read more

Training to help England’s towns modernise

From September teams of local experts have been advising the leaders of 350 towns how to adapt their high streets to changing consumer behaviour. The training will:

  • Encourage towns to carry out high street health checks
  • Agree what the town centre “offer” will be to residents and visitors
  • Explain how to best make use of planning powers and new community rights to take over closed pubs or shops
  • Detail how neighbourhood planning should be used to decide what local areas should look like in the future.

The training is available to the 350 town teams which were established following the Portas Review. Read more

Faster planning appeals process

Planning Minister Nick Boles has announced that secondary legislation has been laid before Parliament which will ensure that planning appeals will receive earlier decisions, with increased transparency for communities. The new legislation will came into force on 1st October, and at the same time new guidance on planning appeals was published. Read more

Measures announced to help bring parish powers back to towns and cities

Communities Minister Don Foster has announced new measures which will make it easier for parish councils to be established within towns and cities, which would bring more powers for local communities to run services and make decisions affecting their area.Read more

Select Committee to review NPPF

The select committee for the Department for Communities and Local government is to review the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework. The two year review will begin in March 2014 when the committee will ask interested parties to submit evidence on the impact of the planning changes. Read more

Wolfson Economics Prize 2014 – Garden Cities

The second Wolfson Economics Prize will be awarded to the entrant who offers the best answer to the question “How would you deliver a new Garden City which is visionary, economically viable, and popular?”  The deadline for submissions is 3 March 2014.

This follows much recent comment in the national press, including a piece on the Telegraph on our Annual Conference, where we had Miles Gibson, the PM’s then-Housing Advisor and now Wolfson Prize Director, on the case for further Garden Cities to help address the new for housing. Read more

Planning Guidance on Retail Site allocations

The Department for Communities and local Government (DCLG) is to issue planning guidance on retail land allocations. The guidance was announced as part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and will urge councils to review retail land allocations taking account of changing local markets. DCLG has suggested that councils should set up “one stop shops” to provide a single point of contact for developers so that they can deal with planning, building regulations and environmental health as part of a comprehensive service to support the town centres. Read more

New National Infrastructure Plan

A new national infrastructure plan containing information on over £375bn of planned public and private sector infrastructure investment has been announced by the Government. The plan sets out investment for energy, transport, flood defence, waste, water and communications infrastructure up to 2030 and beyond. The plan will be assisted by investment of £25bn over the next five years by six major insurance companies. Read more

Communities to be consulted on wind turbine proposals

The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced that local communities will have a much greater say on wind turbine proposals. New measures to be laid before Parliament will require developers seeking planning permission for onshore development involving more than two turbines or any turbine exceeding 15 metres height to consult local communities before submitting a formal application. Read more

English Heritage seeks new commissioners

English Heritage is looking for six new commissioners to provide strategic direction during a time of change including the becoming a charity to manage the National Heritage Collection. Commissioners are needed for specialist and general roles. The appointments will be made by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.Read more

Support for self build housing

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has promised to help turn self build housing into a mainstream option rather than a minority interest. He will introduce measures to support self build housing including asking councils to assess the demand; undertake a review of Homes and Communities Agency land to identify land suitable for small scale projects; and publicise land to would be self builders. There will also be a Council Tax discount for self built family annexes and exemption from “unreasonable” section 106 charges and the Community Infrastructure levy. Read more

£150m boost for construction industry

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has announced that a further £150m is to be invested in the construction industry over the next five years to help reduce construction times, improve quality and make buildings more efficient.£60m will allocated to the Low Impact Building Innovation Platform to fund  projects which have those aims. Read more

Heritage Enterprise recipients announced

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded more than £12m to bring five important but neglected historic buildings back to commercial use. The funding has been awarded under the Heritage Enterprise Scheme to:

  • The Harland and Wolff Drawing Office, Titanic Quarter, Belfast
  • The Globe Theatre, Stockton
  • St Peter and the Old Black Lion Pub, Northampton
  • The Northern Counties Club, Londonderry/Derry
  • Merkinch Welfare Hall, Inverness

Read more

CPRE charter to Save our Countryside

The Campaign for the Protection of rural England (CPRE) has launched a charter asking for better protection for the countryside, a fair say for local communities in planning the places where they live and work, and more housing – but of a good quality and in the right place. CPRE is asking people to sign the charter which can be done on its web site. Read more

Stonehenge reopens

The long-awaited Stonehenge exhibition and visitor centre will open on 18 December. For the first time, visitors will have a proper introduction to one of the world’s most important prehistoric monuments. Read more

Hull to be City of Culture 2017

Hull has been named as the U.K. City of Culture 2017. The current city of culture, Londonderry, has seen visitor numbers double over the past year and has had around £120m of capital investment since being named as City of Culture 2013 in 2009. Read more

HLF support for Durham and Peterborough cathedrals

The Heritage Lottery Fund has allocated a total of £7m for investment to celebrate important anniversaries for two of England’s most spectacular cathedrals: Durham and Peterborough. Read more

Scotland’s Years of Architecture and Heritage

Scotland’s First Minister Alec Salmond has announced a series of “Focus Years” to celebrate aspects of Scotland and its people. The first in the series will be Food and Drink in 2015 followed by Architecture (2015) and History, Heritage and Archaeology (2017).Read more

The Georgian Group architectural awards 2013

The Georgian Group has announced its award winners and commended schemes for 2013. Awards were made under several categories for restoration, of buildings and interiors, new buildings in the Georgian tradition and context. Read more

New Member Focus

Trowbridge Museum writes for e-news on one of their latest projects

Trowbridge is the county town of Wiltshire. It is situated on the River Biss in the west of the county, approximately 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Bath, Somerset. Trowbridge has ancient roots, its earliest known written record can been found in the Domesday Book.
The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon words treow-brycg meaning tree and bridge.
Henry de Bohun, the Magna Carta enforcer, did much to shape the town, including building a castle sometime in the early twelfth century and the fine church of St James. King John also awarded him one of the earliest recorded market charters in 1200 and a market has been now been regularly held in the town for over 800 years.

Weaving fine West of England cloth is what helped Trowbridge to develop and expand beyond its modest beginnings. Evidence from Anglo-Saxon excavations has uncovered loom weights which indicate that weaving has taken place in the town for over 1,000 years. The town centre has been a focal point for producing woollen cloth from the 14th century.

The Jenny Factory, which dates from 1830A weaver’s cottage, which dates from the 18th century

Three hundred years later Trowbridge was producing medley or Spanish cloth which according to the author Daniel Defoe (was) “the finest medley Spanish cloths, not in England but in the whole world...”.Defoe’s testimony to the quality of the Trowbridge cloth was born out by a request received by local clothier John Clark on the 4th May 1747 from an agent for Elizabeth, Empress of Russia for “plump cloths and good full colours.”

This industry generated great wealth which resulted in the building of fine clothier’s houses many of which can still be seen in the town and which the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner described as a ‘stretch of palaces’and a building currently operated by Lloyds Bank as to be ‘so stately as to recall Genoa’ and the finest building in Wiltshire. In the nineteenth century industrialisation and the embracing of new technology within the West of England cloth mills had a major impact on the town resulting in it being described as ‘The Manchester of the West’. The woollen cloth industry has left a rich and notable architectural legacy, ranging from the late sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, which according to English Heritage ‘is a quite exceptional chronological range for industrial buildings in a town centre’.

Trowbridge was producing high quality cloth well into the twentieth century and supplying members of the Royal family including Queen Mary, Edward the VIII and the current Queen Elizabeth II who came to Trowbridge Mill, Palmer and Mackay to obtain Culloden tartan for the Trooping of the colour. Trowbridge mills also supplied top sixties designer Mary Quant.

Trowbridge Museum is the focal point for this fascinating heritage and contains unique working machinery relating to West of England woollen cloth production including an extremely rare Spinning Jenny. To discover more check out our website at

Events and Seminars

Forthcoming Historic Towns Events

We have an exciting programme of events starting in 2014. In addition we will be introducing an events’ season ticket and further discounts on events for members who join again in 2014. Ask for details here

Historic Built Environment Seminars Oxford 2014

The New Towns Agenda – Masterplanning for new towns, garden cities and urban extensions in the historic environment – theory, practice and examples
The Historic Towns Forum, the Association of Small Historic Towns and Villages, and Kellogg College are pleased to announce the inaugural series of Historic Built Environment Seminars. Beginning in 2014, these seminars will address current and contentious topics within the historic built environment, fostering academic dialogue, professional practice, and providing an arena in which the public, private, civic and academic sectors can engage in heated and healthy debate about all aspects of the topic in hand. The seminar series will be accompanied by published proceedings each following year. Do join us!
  • 25 February David Lock, David Lock Associates, on New Towns and Masterplanning tbc
  • 3 June Steven Bee, Steven Bee Urban Counsel, on Urban extensions and ‘Poundbury-Lite’
  • 14 October Peter Larkham, Birmingham City University, on Conserving the post-Second World War reconstruction: a contentious idea

These are free events. Register here

London 18 February 2014

Local Authority Skills Summit Invitation Event

In answer to the skills’ gap crisis in Local Authorities regarding the continued dearth and increasing cuts in Archaeological, Conservation and Heritage Officers, the HTF is holding a free strategy event to determine what our part of the sector needs to do to address this issue. This will be at HTF partner’s office, Bircham Dyson Bell, 50 Broadway, London, on 18 February 2014, from 12-5 with lunch. Places will be limited so register soon!

London February 24 2014

Accommodating growth in historic towns – what can we learn from past models and future thinking?

Response to our Milton Keynes Conference on the New Towns Agenda was so positive that we are revisiting the topic with a focus on how what we can learn from Masterplanning and social planning of the past in our historic towns and cities – are we taking those lessons forward into the planning of today and the future, or are we continuing to reinvent the wheel? This event will be held at HTF partners’ office Bircham Dyson Bell , 50 Broadway, London, on 24 February 2014. Register here

Poundbury April 03 2014

Heritage Tourism, Ruralism, Communications and Business in a Broadband Age
England Tourism Week

The Historic Towns Forum in conjunction with ASHTAV will be holding its second National Tourism Conference during England Tourism week on April 3 2014. This will focus on rural heritage and tourism issues and how Broadband provision affects this, among other topical issues such as communications, transport infrastructure and economic growth in rural historic settlements. 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. It is rumoured we may have some important guests! Register here

London May 01 2014

Annual Heritage Legislation Update

On May 01 we will be holding our annual heritage legislation update at HTF partners’ office Bircham Dyson Bell , 50 Broadway, London, on 24 February 2014. With so much still changing in both the planning and heritage sectors, this event, hosted by legal advisors to English Heritage, is not to be missed. Register here

Other HTF events

What events would you like us to put on?

We are now planning the rest of yearly programme. What events would you like us to cover? Some ideas so far include Coastal Communities, revisiting the LEP issues, transport infrastructure and further events on accommodating growth. And where would you like us to hold them? We’ve had several requests for events in the north of England, later in the year. Places we are considering are Scarborough, Liverpool and Manchester. Let us know what you think!

Partner Events

10-12 January Milton Keynes
New Towns Heritage Festival, Bradwell Abbey

This free event is a joint project between the University of Hertfordshire, the Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre and Milton Keynes Council, sponsored by the AHRC. The event hopes to celebrate the New Towns of the United Kingdom and act as a catalyst for future joint working and sharing of best practice.

The programme will centre around an arts day (Friday 10th), a day of talks (Saturday 11th) and a day of visits (Sunday 12th). You are welcome to attend one, two or all of the days.
For more information and to register

London 01 April

National Planning Summit

The inaugural National Planning Summit will be held on 1st April at the ILEC Conference Centre in London. The summit is intended to address the latest, most pertinent issues facing the planning system today. Read more

Edinburgh June 2014

IHBC Annual School

The Institute of Historic Buildings Conservation (IHBC) annual school will be held in Edinburgh in June 2014. Professor Jukka Jokhileto will speak on the theme of “the philosophy and conservation theory, exploring the relationship with culture and science”. Read more


HLF funding for First World War cultural programme

The Heritage lottery Fund (HLF) has committed £5m to help deliver a U.K. wide cultural programme marking the centenary of the First World War. The programme “14-18 NOW” will be a series of commissions from artists from Britain and across the world that will explore the heritage and resonance of the war today.

Arts Council England has also committed £5m to the programme making the total lottery funding £10m. 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


English Heritage New Model  - deadline 08 January 2014

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has issued the consultation document on the proposal for the a new model for the functions currently undertaken by English Heritage, including the establishment of a new charity , to retain the title English Heritage, which will protect and care for the National Heritage Collection. The heritage protection and regulatory functions will be transferred to a new body, Historic England. The consultation period ends on 07 February 2014.
A stakeholder event will be held on Wednesday 08 January at the DCMS offices in London. Read more

Welsh Government draft Planning Bill consultation –deadline 26 January 2014

The Welsh Government has issued its draft Planning Bill for consultation. The draft Bill includes proposals for:
  • The introduction of a new national development plan
  • A new tier of regional plan to address issues of more than local importance such as housing land supply
  • A new tier of applications, identified as being of national significance, which the Welsh ministers will determine
  •  The introduction of a Planning Advisory and Improvement Service to support skills and culture change
  • A series of improvements to the development management and Local Development Plan system.

The consultation period ends on 26 February 2014. Read more

Consultation starts on new rules for listed buildings – deadline 27 January 2014

Proposals which streamline the regulatory burden for owners of listed buildings are now out for public  consultation as a result of measures set out in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. The  proposals focus on removing red tape without changing the existing levels of protection for listed buildings.
That Act contains a number of heritage provisions to simplify the listed building consent system. Draft secondary legislation now under consideration covers such matters as:

  • Listed Building Heritage Partnership Agreements
  • Local Listed Building Consent Orders
  • Certificates of Lawfulness of Proposed Works
  • the approach to be taken in setting up National Listed Building Consent Orders.

Read more

Draft National Policy Statement for National Networks – deadline 26 February 2014

The Department for Transport has launched a public consultation on the Governments Draft National Policy Statement for National Networks in England. The Department has also published its appraisal of sustainability of the draft National Statement. The consultation period ends on 26 February 2014. Read more

Publications and Toolkits

Heritage at Risk 2013

English Heritage (EH) has published its latest survey of listed buildings and important historic sites which it deems to be at risk. The number of entries on the register, 5,700, is less than in 2012 (5831) but the cost of repairs needed has increased. The average difference between the estimated cost of repair and end use value is now £450,000. In 2012/2013 EH offered over £10m in grants to help repair buildings which were on the register. Read more

Beyond the High Street report

The Centre for Cities has published a report –Beyond the High Street- which says that the focus on High Street shops has resulted in a lack of action to help wider city centres to attract and retain a wide range of jobs and to adapt to a changing economy. Read more

Loss of local authority conservation staffing

A new report by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), supported by English Heritage, shows a continued decline in local authority conservation staffing with a reduction in 4% in 2012, part of a “devastating 33% cut since 2006”. Read more

Responses Scotland’s HES and HS-RCAHMS merger

The Scottish Government has published the responses to its Historic Environment Strategy and the proposed merger of Historic Scotland (HS) and the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). The consultation period ended on 31st July.
Read more

Health and participation in culture linked

A new report from the Scottish Government says that cultural activities such as dancing, reading or visiting historic sites and museums can have health benefits. The report is based on the results of household surveys and adds to evidence from other research that people who participate in sporting and cultural activities are more likely to report that they are in good health and are satisfied with their life than those who do not. This remains true when factors such as age, economic status, income, education, area of deprivation and long term illness are taken into account. Read more

Regional cities outperform the largest

A report by management consultancy PwC in conjunction with think tank Demos shows that medium sized regional cities throughout the U.K. are outperforming the largest (London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester) for economic success factors which the general public value, and quality of life. The highest ranking cities are Reading and Bracknell, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Southampton and Cambridge.
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? Special events’ discounts and other benefits are available for members.



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