The Forum is fortunate to be represented on the Historic Environment Review Executive Committee, or HEREC as it is more conveniently known.  HEREC is convened by English Heritage under the Chairmanship of John Sell CBE, from the Joint Committee of National Amenity Societies.  It brings together a wide range of bodies concerned with the historic environment, from the Greenwich Foundation to the Church of England and the Heritage Lottery Fund to the Institute for Historic Building Conservation.  It is an excellent forum for keeping abreast of what is going on and working with colleague to influence policy and action across a huge range of historic environment issues.

One of the key concerns of the Committee in recent months has been preparing for the publication of Heritage Counts 2009.  In addition to the usual status report on the historic environment, this year’s edition will include 2 important pieces of work.

First, a review of policy priorities, including making the best use of resources, capacity building, closing gaps in protection, Planning Policy Statement 15 (PPS15), the Government’s vision for the historic environment and the historic environment in the recession.  Second, the results of a study into the relationship between the historic environment and perceptions of sense of place and social capital, commissioned by English Heritage from a consortium led by Centre for Urban and Regional Studies.  This work promises to be significant in underlining the social value of investment in our heritage.

Heritage Counts 2009 will be launched with a question time session at RIBA, Portland Place, on the evening of 21 October.   We anticipate that this will also be the occasion for the unveiling of the Government's heritage vision statement.

HEREC is already turning its collective mind to Heritage Counts 2010.  Probable key themes include: heritage protection and the economies of historic places; and understanding heritage and its relationship with diverse communities and personal histories.  New research on both will be commissioned.

At the meeting on 19 August, Duncan McCallum reported on the mass of comments about the draft PPS15 that have been generated within English Heritage.  Some key issues are emerging around place making, Grade II Listed Buildings, designated assets, individual assets versus the strategic overview and definitions and terminology.  Duncan said that much more work needs to be done to bring a coherent response together before the deadline for comments on 30 September 2009. 

HEREC also agreed at that meeting to set up a group to look at issues around climate change and the historic environment.  The proposed terms of reference say: ‘The aim of this sub-group will be to coordinate and drive forward the work to reduce the risk to the historic environment and our cultural heritage from the impacts of climate change (adaptation) and respond to the need to move towards a low carbon society whose lifestyles and resource use will prevent further climate change and respond to the rising costs of fossil fuel and increasing concerns about energy security (mitigation)’.  The Forum will be represented on the group.   

If you have views on any of these matters please let us have them – they will make our contribution to HEREC all the more effective.

Brian Human
Vice Chair, HTF