HTVF launches new website

Submitted by admin on Mon, 26/02/2018 - 17:09

In recognition of the alliance between the former Historic Towns Forum and the Alliance for Small Historic Towns and Villages (ASHTAV), the HTVF has launched a new website to publicise its news, events and the latest best practice material available

This HTF website will be available for some time, to give access to historic information on past events and minutes, however both the HTF and ASHTAV publications library will be available to members and non-members as free downloads on the new website. 

Historic Built Environment Seminars - Kellogg College Oxford - Watch this space for future dates!


Coming again in 2018!

Kellogg College, 60-62 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PN

The Historic Towns & Villages Forum and Kellogg College are pleased to announce the continuation of our series of Historic Built Environment Seminars in 2018. Tthese will address current and contentious topics within the historic built environment, and as a forum in which public, private, civic and academic participants can engage in heated and healthy debate about all aspects of the topic in hand, exchanging knowledge between the sectors. The seminar series will generate published proceedings later in the year.

Email if you would like to be involved as a speaker or to propose a topic of interest.  Please do join us!

These HTVF events are supported by:



The Listed Property Show 2013


The FREE ADMISSION Listed Property Show returns to Olympia, London
and it looks set to be the biggest and best yet!

Olympia London – 16th and 17th February 2013

The exhibition, which is organised by the Listed Property Owners’ Club (LPOC), provides practical advice, tips and information for homeowners looking to maintain or refurbish their properties.

The seventh annual show will feature more than 100 specialist suppliers showcasing products and services.

A spokesman for the Listed Property Owners’ Club said: “We are delighted with the response to the previous shows and we already have more exhibitors joining us for the next show.”

The Listed Property Show brings together the industry’s best – all under one roof at London’s Olympia – and there’s no other event like it. It’s a unique opportunity for a stress-free one-to-one conversation with Conservation Officers, who will happily talk you through any hypothetical plans you may have about altering or extending your home. The event will also include architects
and planners, window and door manufacturers, craftsmen and ‘caring’ builders, as well as practical demonstrations.

More than 100 of the UK’s leading experts will be at the show to give advice and guidance. Many will be giving practical demonstrations, including woodcarving, lead work, plasterwork and window and door manufacturing. There will also be interactive talks by, amongst others, English Heritage.

Other exhibits includes the Charles Brooking Collection of architectural details, the Georgian Group, Salvo, Estate Management and architectural historians, as well as many commercial suppliers of products suitable for period homes.

                         Entry to the show is free when applied for in advance; get your free invitation from or via email Alternatively ring 01795 844939

If you own a listed property or are thinking of purchasing one, you can’t afford to miss this!

Did you know? 
There are 450,000 listed properties in the UK / 92% are grade II listed / 5.5% are grade II* listed / 2.5% are grade I listed / 38% of listed properties are domestic dwellings / 15% of listed buildings are pre-1600 / The show will have over 100 exhibitors / Exhibitors range from historic tapestries and flooring solutions to conservatories and roof tiles / The Listed Property Owners’ Club has more than 19,000 members


For further information or images, call Jo Dennis on 01795 844939

August newsletter

August Newsletter


Director's Message

Welcome to our new look old look newsletter! We have responded to members who much preferred our previous article-style, rather than link-style newsletter, and so happy reading! This is a very full edition – there are several consultations to participate in and much to update you on. In particular please do look at the article on the Listed Buildings Consent consultation - we have only until the 23 August to respond. You can also see the results of the VAT campaign below – while Government made some concessions it was not the result we had hoped for but I hope you will be heartened to read that we have not given up – there is a new campaign to cut the VAT to 5%. Your support would be extremely welcome!

You will see we have more events on Practical Localism and Neighbourhood Planning in September, and we are repeating our popular Social Media course on September 18 in Oxford. We are also repeating our successful Community Asset Transfer Seminar on November 13 in Burslem, at the rather beautiful and historical School of Art, due to requests to hold it somewhere more northerly. So I do hope we will see you all again soon! Until then I hope you are enjoying the 2012 Olympic Games as much as we are in the office – coffee breaks are spent around the live-stream cheering on our Great British athletes. We have so much to be proud of culturally and historically – what could be more inspiring than seeing Bradley Wiggins receiving the gold medal in front of the backdrop of Hampton Court? I am so inspired I am off this week to volunteer at the mountain biking in Hadleigh Park, another wonderful site near to the historic Thames Gateway, where 19,000 spectators are expected each day. I hope each of you have found something to inspire you culturally over the period leading up to and including the Games – in spite of some concerns over traditional tourism and traffic infrastructure over this period is it a marvellous time to be British and we have really shown the world what we are made of – let’s make the most of the legacy that is to follow for our historic towns and cities!

Latest news

STOP PRESS: Reforms to Listed Building Consents system – consultation – please respond!

As part of the Penfold Review of Non-Planning Consents, DCMS has been working with CLG on proposed reform of the heritage-related non-planning consents. Some have already gone into the ERR Bill, but Government has committed to consultation on other possible reforms. The proposed changes may affect the management of the historic environment; please take this opportunity to respond to the consultation here. The consultation period ends on the 23 August so there is not much time.

The consultation sets out four options for change: a system of prior notification; a system of local and national class consents; a ‘certificate of lawful works to Listed Buildings’; and the replacement of local authority conservation officer recommendations for LBC by those made by accredited agents. The consultation also seeks views on enforcement mechanisms for buildings which have been put at risk through neglect, such as Repair Notices and Compulsory Purchase Orders; particularly those that have been on the Heritage at Risk Register for some time. Read more>>

To help organisations respond to the consultation within the short time frame, English Heritage will be hosting two identical briefing and discussion events on the 9 and 16 August at 1 Waterhouse Square, Holborn, between 2 and 4pm. Anyone wishing to attend is asked to contact with a preferred date.

National Planning Policy Framework

On 20 June the HTF, sponsored by Terrence O’Rourke Ltd, held a lively and timely conference on the topic of The National Planning Policy Framework: Planning for Growth in Towns and Historic Cities. This well-received event was held in historic Salisbury, and included speakers from English Heritage, Terrence O’Rourke Ltd, the Historic Towns Forum, Chichester Cathedral, Winchester City Council, Winchester Civic Trust and Salisbury Civic Society.

While the Government’s new agenda affects all aspects of planning, a particular challenge is how to reconcile a pro development national policy framework with the conservation of those qualities of our historic towns and cities that make them successful places in which to live, work and play. See the event presentations here. A conference report will be available shortly. Please check back!

Community Right to Challenge comes into force

Communities will now be able to bid to take over local services. A Community Rights website has been launched to give people more information about the new powers and opportunities available to them. Practical help and guidance for those wishing to use the Community Right to Challenge is now available on the Community Rights website. A dedicated phone line for support is also now available on 0845 345 4564. Read more.

On 31 May the HTF, sponsored by partners, Bircham Dyson Bell, held a successful and vibrant event focusing on Community Asset Transfer. Prominent speakers from the HTF, Bircham Dyson Bell, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, the Asset Transfer Unit, the Association of Preservation Trusts, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, the Church’s Conservation Trust and Oxford Preservation Trust explained the legalities and practicalities of community asset transfer under the Localism Act, and what this could mean for communities wishing to take over capital assets. The event was so popular that we will be repeating it on November 13 at the Burslem School of Art. Watch this space! View the presentations here.

VAT Campaign – Addressing borderline anomalies – section 7 – 'Approved alterations to listed buildings'

By now you will probably be aware that in spite of u turns on pasties and caravans, the Government refused to back down on proposed changes to the VAT relief on approved alterations to listed buildings. As a result, the zero rate of VAT on approved alterations to listed buildings will now be removed from 01 October this year following an amendment to the Finance Bill that was approved by MPs on 03 July.

Although the Government made two significant concessions, the campaign, ultimately, was unsuccessful. The concessions were:

  • The Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme was extended to cover repairs as well as alterations, and was increased by £30m, which the Government says will provide 100% compensation to listed places of worship; and
  • Significant improvements in the transitional arrangements designed to protect projects already underway, whereof owner who have applied for Listed Building Consent before 21 March 2012 will still be eligible for the zero rate until 01 October 2015;

Government defence to the relief cut ignored the robust evidence put forward by the Heritage Sector. The HTF campaigned on your behalf, working closely with the Federation of Master Builders, the Heritage Alliance, the IHBC, and many others, and were joint signatories on prominent letter to the Chancellor, the Times, and the Telegraph, among other communications.

Thanks to all of you who joined in the movement with letter to MPs and so on – the fight is not yet over and  although we have lost a battle there is  a new main campaign to Cut the VAT (5% on all residential repair, maintenance and improvement work) – the HTF is on the website as a supporter. Please show your support also and visit the Cut the VAT website.


Debbie Dance, HTF's Chair, spoke at the 2012 China-UK Cultural Heritage Forum in China, on 'Heritage and Tourism' by highlighting the contribution heritage and historic towns make to the UK economy. Read more >>

High Streets and Town Centres

HTF invited to contribute to DCLG publication

The HTF was recently approached to advise and contribute content to the new DCLG publication, Re-imaging urban spaces to help revitalise our high streets. Two prominent members of the HTF Executive, Steven Bee of Steven Bee Urban Counsel, and Brian Human, of BRH Associates, obliged and you can read the results by clicking on the link above.

Ipswich is awarded Purple Flag status

The Ipswich Society (HTF members) have announced that Ipswich has been awarded Purple Flag status for their night time offer. Purple Flag is the new accreditation scheme that recognises excellence in the management of town and city centres at night, and is a good measure of a successful night time economy. Congratulations to Ipswich, and to the Community Safety Partnership, which has been instrumental in achieving this award.

Second wave of ‘Portas Pilots’ announced

A second group of towns in England have been selected to run pilot schemes based on the Government-commissioned Mary Portas report on improving high street vitality. Read more>>

On 23 March, the HTF, sponsored by Bircham Dyson Bell, held a well-attended (and somewhat heated!) event in light of the changes suggested by the Portas review. Retail, the high street review and the revivification of historic cores included high profile speakers from CLG, New Anglia LEP, Lincoln BIG, ATCM, VisitEngland, English Heritage, CgMs, Land Securities, HTF, Plus Urban Design, the British Parking Association, the LGA, Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners and focused on the perennial issue of the future of the high street within historic cores. View the presentations here.


The Canal and River Trust (CRT) has now officially launched, marking the largest transfer in the UK state-owned infrastructure to the charitable sector, with over 2000 miles of canals, rivers, reservoirs and docks in trust for the people of England and Wales. It brings together the third largest collection of Listed structures in the country, as well as the museums, collections and archives of the former Waterways Trust.

266m transport boost for green growth and infrastructure

Towns and cities across England are set to benefit from major transport schemes boosting green growth. Read more>>

Speaking to HRH The Prince of Wales

Vanessa Gregory, a staunch and long-serving HTF member, had the honour to give a speech to HRH The Prince of Wales and guests at St James's Palace in May 2012 to the Prince's Foundation. You can view Vanessa's speech here.

HTF Director invited to Jubilee Garden Party

On 29 May 2012 Noël James, HTF Director, attended the Royal Jubilee Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. She was invited to meet our Patron, HRH Price Charles the Prince of Wales, whereupon they discussed the work of the Forum, and how the Forum could work together with the Prince’s built environment charities. Noël reports that she was ‘utterly charmed, rather star struck, and even a little smitten’, while being thoroughly impressed by the scale of the event, the beauty of the surroundings and the dignity and style of the Royal Family. Although not planned, she also had an impromptu chat with the Duchess of Cambridge about hats and shoes, which apparently was ‘equally satisfying’.

The Prince of Wales Medal for Philanthropy – nominations open

Nominations are now open for The Prince of Wales Medal for Philanthropy. Inaugurated in 2008, the medal is awarded to five individuals or couples every year, and recognises a sustained contribution to the nation’s cultural life, either over a period of time, or as a major gift. The deadline for nominations is 06 September.

Walk the World with the Olympics

As part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad's Discovering Places campaign, join the challenge to find international connections which take you around the world without leaving the UK and put your local town on the map. Find out more >>

Can you help?

The HTF has received a request to let members know that an interesting collection of architectural books is for sale. The collection had belonged to a parish priest, late in the Diocese of Peterborough, and has now been catalogued for sale by his son. Architecture was his lifelong passion, and the library is extensive. The seller is avowed not to sell the collection by foot to second-hand book buyers and wondered if any HTF members might be interested in the collection. You can view it here.

The West Berkshire Heritage Forum, in conjunction with HTF members West Berkshire Council, have agreed in principle to undertake local listing of its heritage assets under the provisions of its Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework. The Heritage Forum is hoping to do this is a novel way, by recruiting a Selection Panel of eminent outside experts in various fields who will adjudicate on the merits of each proposal to list an asset. The Heritage Forum is asking HTF members if they would nominate someone local to West Berkshire with the appropriate qualifications and experience to serve on the panel. If you are able or would like to nominate someone, please contact the HTF in the first instance at

New project seeks to understand the value of culture

This AHRC-funded project, directed by Professor Geoffrey Crossick, recently Vice Chancellor of the University of London, seeks to address exactly what makes culture of value to societies and individuals. Defining what makes culture of value and how it shapes our lives, our places, our work, our thoughts and our feelings has been a topic of continuing interest to those who work in any of the cultural sectors, including heritage. It has never been an easy topic to define. The project will aim to define aspects of this through the collection of robust evidence, and in so doing shape policy and stimulate public debate.

For more information contact Philip Pothen on 01793 416022 The HTF will be sharing its views; particularly around how culture and cultural values shape place-making.

Design Council CABE – new programme launched to support community-led design

Design Council CABE is looking for potential partners to help with their Design Your Neighbourhood programme, which aims to help communities improve design in their neighbourhoods. Design Your Neighbourhood will work by linking local groups with local design support partners with expertise in architecture, planning, design and engineering.

If you would like to enter an expression of interest to be a design support partner you will need to be: a non-profit organisation; based in England; able to provide professional expertise in architecture, planning and/or design; and have the capacity to work with a local community group on a planning and design project between September 2012 and March 2013. Support partners will receive grant funding from Design Council CABE up to a value of around £10, 000 in order to work with a nominated community group. Read more>>

Civic Voice appoints new Director

Civic Voice has appointed Steve Graham as its new interim Director. Steve will work part-time for Civic Voice for the next 6 months. Steve has considerable experience in award-winning sustainable development, as well as working previously with the UN, the WWF, and on policy work with DEFRA.

Chair of Civic Voice, Paula Ridley, is ‘looking forward to working with Steve’, and is ‘delighted that his wide experience of the sector and enthusiasm for our work will give Civic Voice the best possible chance of a stable future.’ Steve added that he is ‘very much looking forward to working with the Board and members in taking Civic Voice to the next level and feel it’s a real privilege to be asked to fulfil the role of Director.’ The Historic Towns Forum wishes Steve all the best in his quest to continue the sterling work of Civic Voice. More here>>

Do you need training in fundraising? The Heritage Alliance could help you!

The Heritage Alliance and the Institute of Fundraising are working together to find the best ways to provide support, information and training for the heritage sector in fundraising. They would be grateful if you could take the time to fill out this short online questionnaire. For further information, please contact , The Heritage Alliance’s Philanthropy Programme Director.

New Website for Heritage Open Days

See the lovely new HOD website for information on this year’s Heritage Open Days (6-9 September). More here>>

Archived Regional Development Agency information

In accordance with Government policy, all Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) closed on 31 March 2012 and were abolished on 01 July 2012. Prior to this, RDAs transferred a range of assets, liabilities, functions and activities – including ongoing project responsibilities – to other public sector bodies. To find out where to access this, and the transferred legacy of economic information, read more>>

Events and seminars

Practical Localism

10 September, Leicester; and 24 September, London

We are holding two afternoon seminars that will look at the practicalities of Localism almost a year since it became law. What is the connection between a Neighbourhood Forum and a National Plan, a Local Plan, and a Neighbourhood Plan? Who is responsible for it? Should you be involved?

Social Media

17 September, Oxford

We are offering an all-day course to help you and your organisation get the most from social media. Used correctly, social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin can be extremely effective marketing tools. Easy step by step processes will show you how to participate fully in the social media revolution. With more and more people ‘joining the conversation’ now really is the time to get engaged and make social media work for your organisation. Click here to book a place


You can view HTF responses to past consultations here.

Publications and toolkits

The Value of England’s Past – new research by the London School of Economics and English Heritage proves value of Conservation areas

Houses in conservation areas sell at a premium and show a greater appreciation in value than those in other areas. This is even after adjusting for the effects of the kind of property involved and where it is located. These are just some of the findings of the first, rigorous, large-scale analysis of the effects of conservation areas on house prices in England, recently published by English Heritage. For full details of the research click here. For further information please contact: beth.mchattie@english-heritage or

Government changes how it consults with stakeholders and the public

New guidance on Consultation Principles has been published by Government, and will replace the previous Consultation Code of Practice. This will take effect from the autumn. Read more>>

Two publications launched on placed-based approach to local distinctiveness

English Heritage and City of Lincoln Council have launched two reports, 'Plans in Place: Taking a local approach to character in Lincoln', and 'Historic Townscape Characterisation - The Lincoln Townscape Assessment: A Case Study' that together outline a local approach to capitalising on the inherited character of places. Read more >>

Community asset tools by Locality

Locality has launched two new online tools to help local people understand and use the new rights relate to community assets contained within the Localism Act 2011. The Place Station enables users to map land and buildings that are of value to local residents, and encourages private sector practitioners to offer support to help get projects started. The Building Calculator offers communities the professional knowledge to calculate the long-term costs of a building. It uses the most up-to-date buildings component data, and employs the Whole Life Costing methodology used by surveyors and construction professionals. This easy-to-use tool enables communities to plan ahead for future building maintenance and replacement costs. Read more>>

Engaging places

Engaging Places is a web-based resource that provides a variety of teaching materials, lesson plans and is vital in supporting built environment education across the UK. They would like your help to make the web resource more user-friendly. You can do so by completing this short survey.

English Heritage Guidance

Historic Environment Local Management: English Heritage Guidance.

DCMS: Taking Part Survey – England’s survey of leisure, culture and sport

The latest results from the Taking Part Survey show record levels of engagement since the survey began in 2005/6. The survey reveals that 74.3% of adults visited a heritage site in the last year. This is an increase of 3.6% since 2010/11, with just under a third reporting they visit a heritage site at least three or four times a year. Read More>>

HTF membership

We invite professionals working in the historic built environment to join the membership. We welcome the following new members to HTF:

  • The Kenilworth Society
  • Tim Murphy
  • The Theatres Trust
  • WRS Insurance Brokers
  • Bysouth Consultants

If you would like to join us, please visit this link to our website for membership benefits.


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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Sent from: Historic Towns Forum, P. O. Box 22, Bristol, BS16 1RZ; Tel: 0117 9750459

HTF comments - Consultation on new opportunities for sustainable development and growth through the reuse of existing buildings

Response form:  Communities and Local Government

New opportunities for sustainable development and growth through the reuse of existing buildings: Consultation

We are seeking your views to the following questions on the proposals to support sustainable development and growth through encouraging the reuse of empty and redundant existing buildings where the original use was no longer required or appropriate.

How to respond:

The closing date for responses is 11 September 2012.

This response form is saved separately on the DCLG website.

Responses should be sent preferably by email:

Email responses to:

Written responses to:

Saima Williams
Consultation Team (Wider change of use)
Planning Development Management Division
Department for Communities and Local Government
1/J3, Eland House
Bressenden Place
London SW1E 5DU

About you
i)    Your details:


Noël James



Name of organisation
(if applicable):

Historic Towns Forum


PO Box 22, Bristol, BS16 1RZ


Telephone number:

0117 975 0459

ii)   Are the views expressed on this consultation an official response from the organisation you represent or your own personal views?
Organisational response                                                                                                   X         
Personal views                                                                                                                           

iii)  Please tick the box which best describes you or your organisation:
District Council                                                                                                                            
Metropolitan district council                                                                                                      
London borough council                                                                                                           
Unitary authority/county council/county borough council                                            
Parish council                                                                                                                       
Community council                                                                                                                    
Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB)                                                                                
Professional trade association                                                                                                 
Land owner                                                                                                                        
Private developer/house builder                                                                                    
Developer association                                                                                                     
Voluntary sector/charity                                                                                                     X

(please comment):



iv)  What is your main area of expertise or interest in this work
(please tick one box)?
Chief Executive                                                                                                                          
Member of professional or trade association                                                                         
Planning policy/implementation                                                                                              
Environmental protection                                                                                                   X

(please comment):

The HTF works across sectors to promote conservation and prosperity in historic towns and cities.

Would you be happy for us to contact you again in relation to this questionnaire?
Yes X  No 

The Historic Towns Forum (HTF) welcomes this consultation and the opportunity to contribute its views.

Considering the Policy Background, the HTF:
  1. agrees that there are benefits in greater flexibility (para. 7) and that changes in business and society make the review appropriate (para. 9); but
  2. in addressing changes of use it is not only the impact on the neighbourhood that is important (para. 8), there may be good planning reasons for wishing to retain the premises in the original use or at least manage the change, see Q 8 below.

In the Legal Background there is a presumption that defined uses should be grouped within in the same class (para. 11) and the review does not question this.  This may be open to challenge as the nature of some activities change, see Q11 and Q12.  To this extent there is a case for saying that the review has missed that chance for a more fundamental look at the Use Classes Order – the narrowness of the review with its focus on rural issues reflects this.

Turning to the Policy Context, the HTF supports the conclusions set out in paragraphs 19-22.

In relation to the Proposals for Change, the HTF:

  1. supports the proposal to double the allowance to the creation of two residential units above shops (para. 23);
  2. notes the intention to support the development of new schools through the planning system (para. 24); and
  3. supports broadly the effectiveness of the four main categories plus sui generis (para. 25), but see Q 11/12 below.

ii) Questions
Please refer to the relevant parts of the consultation document for narrative relating to each question.
Question 1: Do you think there should be permitted development rights for buildings used for agricultural purposes to change use to:

  1. Class A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services), and A3 (restaurants and cafes),
  2. Class B1 (Business) and B8 (storage and distribution),
  3. Class C1 (Hotels)
  4. Class D2 (Assembly and Leisure)

Yes X  No 


This is supported in principle subject to:
1.  firm regulations embodying the proposed limitation to apply only to existing buildings at the date of this consultation and after ten years for new buildings;
2.  clear limitations on the permitted extent of Class A1 uses; and
3.  adequate safeguards to protect historic environment assets from changes that would damage their significance – listed building and Conservation Area consents would still apply, but locally listed building might slip through the net and should be protected.

Question 2: Should thresholds and limitations be applied to reduce the potential impact of any permitted change of use?
Yes X  No 


Changes to A1 use poses two main challenges:
1.  many agricultural buildings are large and this relaxation of the UCO must not facilitate significant out of town retail development in conflict with the NPPF; and
2.  in rural areas existing retail provision needs to be taken into account.
(i)  Does the proposal provide shops for the community where they don’t currently exist?
(ii)  Would the proposal threaten the viability of existing local/village shops?

Both 1 and 2(ii) might be addressed by the application of thresholds (e.g. size constraints) and limitations (e.g. range of goods sold).  This needs to be the subject of further empirical research and analysis before national standards are adopted; or should be signposted as discretionary matters for the local planning authority to include in its Local Plan.

On a matter of detail, where changes are allowed controls over signs and advertising must be maintained.  Uncontrolled proliferation would be particularly damaging in rural environments.

Question 3: Are there circumstances that would justify a prior approval process to allow the local planning authority to consider potential impacts?
Yes X  No 


This should be something that the local planning authority can specify through its Local Plan.  This would allow it to be tailored to local circumstances.  Cases where prior approval should be required are:
1.  all retail uses, see Q1;
2.  buildings subject to heritage/conservation designations, e.g. AONB, National Park, Conservation Areas, listed buildings, locally listed buildings, indeed these designations should probably be excluded, see Q1 above and Impact Assessment  below; and
3.  there is a conflict with the Local Plan.

Question 4: Do you agree that the size thresholds for change of use should be increased?
Yes    No 


The HTF would like to see some empirical evidence on this, e.g.
1.  What size of unit is usually involved in a cou application?
2.  What size units are businesses looking for?

There is a question as to whether or not this should be set nationally as demands and needs may vary from area to area.  Should thresholds be set locally through Local Plans?

Question 5: If so, is 470m2 the correct threshold, or should the increase in the limit be larger or more modest?
Yes    No 


See Q4.

However, 470 sq m = 21.7m x 21.7m over one floor and say 10 fte employees for business park type uses, which probably sounds about right?

Question 6: Do you think there should be permitted development rights to allow for the temporary use of buildings currently within the A, B1 and D1 and D2 use classes for a range of other specified uses for two years?
Yes    No X


Encouraging the uptake of vacant premises is right in principle, but the HTF has concerns about the suggested relaxation.
1.  Given their potential for adverse impacts on the surrounding community, especially in residential neighbourhoods, the relaxation should not extend to A4 (pubs and bars) and A5 (take-aways).
2.  For the same reasons, D1 (non residential institutions) and D2 (assembly and leisure) should be excluded.
3.  Two years is too long:  in the event that any particular use gives rise to problems two years would be an intolerable imposition on the community; a maximum of one year would be more appropriate.

Prior notification would help to provide a check on undesirable uses within permitted categories, but A4. A5, D1 and D2 should be excluded from the start.

It is unclear from the consultation what powers the local planning authority would have to bring under control a problem use that was taking advantage of flexibility allowed under this relaxation of the GDO.  This need to be made explicit.

Question 7: If you agree with the proposal what uses do you think should be allowed on a temporary basis?

A1 – A3, B1, C3

Question 8: Do you think there should be permitted development rights to allow hotels to change to residential use without the need for a planning permission?
Yes    No X


This is certainly a valid question.  Looked at from the narrow perspective of land use impacts, while the change from a dwelling to a class C1 use is properly a matter for control, the reverse change is generally far less contentious, if only because potential impacts on amenity are normally likely to be acceptable. 
However, there are other considerations around policies towards tourism.
1.         The Government supports measures to develop and promote a successful tourism industry as a contribution to national prosperity (Government Tourism Policy, DCMS, March 2011).
2.         The policy specifically supports destination management as a way of developing and improving the tourism offer.
3.         Recent work by VisitBritain has highlighted the importance to destination management of planning the services and infrastructure on which the industry depends (Principles for Developing Destination Management Plans, July 2011).  There is a strong case for arguing that a diverse stock of accommodation, including small local hotels and guest houses, is important in meeting visitor expectations and ensuring broader economic and environmental sustainability.
4.         It is therefore important to plan for the visitor accommodation on which the industry depends.  To take two extreme cases, this will be equally true where: the retention of viable accommodation across a range of types supports a successful local tourism industry; or managed reduction of the accommodation stock is necessary to remove non viable surplus stock and improve the overall quality in the best locations.
5.         Effective management of the stock of accommodation will be achieved best by locally specific Local Plan policies, not by the blunt instrument of removing the need for planning consent to change the use.

There is established good practice on this locally driven approach, e.g. Hastings (see  and Eastbourne (

The HTF concludes that the proposed change is not desirable.

A question: Would this apply to pubs offering accommodation and thereby add to the pressures for change of use and hence loss that pubs are already facing?

Question 9: Should thresholds and limitations be applied to reduce the potential impact of any permitted change of use?
Yes X  No 


What are the impacts that thresholds and limitations would seek to reduce?  Impacts on amenity or impacts on the tourism industry or both?  Again consider two extremes.
1.  The change of use of small hotels/guest houses/B&Bs, say less than 10 rooms:  the amenity impacts could be limited, but the impact on the diversity of accommodation on offer could be significant.
2.  The change of use of a large central hotel, say 50+ rooms: there could be a significant impact in terms of the demand for services and residents’ car parking; and at this scale the change could seriously undermine the accommodation stock where the overall supply is limited.

Similar impacts, and others too, could be identified within and beyond this range.  It is difficult to see how thresholds and limitations could be applied nationally, as the issues will arise area by area and case by case in any given locality.  As we have argued in Q8, planning change should be managed through the Local Plan, not through a national relaxation of the GDO.

Question 10: Are there circumstances that would justify a prior approval process to allow the local authority to consider potential impacts?
Yes X  No 


In the event that the Government proceeds with this proposal, prior approval should be sought wherever there is a Local Plan policy seeking to manage the quality and quantity of the accommodation stock.

Question 11: Are you aware of any updates or amendments needed to the descriptions currently included for the existing Use Classes?
Yes X  No 


A1 Retail Changes
The change of use between the sale of different types of goods within class A1 is well established and usually works well.  However, it poses problems where large non food premises in local and district centers change to the sale of food (as supermarkets) to the disadvantage of local traders and the distinctiveness of the area.  This might be addressed by having a limit beyond which such a change would require specific planning consent.

Blurring of A1 & A3
The blurring of distinctions between some A1 and A3 uses can pose problems.  Establishments such as Café Nero, Prêt a Manger etc. increasingly have a mixture of retail, takeaway and café trade and it’s frequently unclear into which category they fit.  This raises concerns that a property may be given consent as a café but over time owners may seek to prove that there is an established take away use, which might be difficult to resist.  Is this in practice a problem and if so how might it be addressed?

Question 12: If yes, what is the amendment, and what is the justification?

Any changes related to Q11 need to be based on empirical studies to establish the nature of the issue, identify clear options and ultimately set out robust criteria.

Question: Impact Assessment
Do you have any comments on the assumptions and analysis set out in the consultation stage Impact Assessment? (See Annex 1)

See also the further specific questions within that Impact Assessment
Yes X  No 


1.  There does not seem to be compelling evidence that the relaxation will increase the level of desirable change taking place.  There is a serious risk that it will encourage undesirable changes, e.g. the introduction of new uses that morph over time into something that is contrary to sound planning.

2.  The balance of advantage in relation to costs for local authorities is unclear.  The impact assessment appears to underestimate the costs of:
(i) dealing with prior notification cases; and
(ii) monitoring and enforcement, which will be essential to ensure that the potential problems identified in 1 above do not get out of hand.
Moreover, the loss of hotels and guest house to residential will involve a loss of business premises with the potential reduction in business rate income to the public purse.

3.  In terms of broader economic impacts, there is a concern that the relaxation of change of use from hotels to residential will encourage businesses to cease (or be forced to cease in the case on leased/rented premises) for short term capital gains.  This is not in the best interest of the local and national economy in the medium to longer term.

4.  The HTF welcomes the intention to exclude listed buildings and scheduled monuments from the PD relaxation (para. 51), but believes this should go further and extend to AONBs, National Parks, Conservation Areas and  locally listed buildings, see Q1 & Q3.

 Thank you for your comments.

Scotland's Towns Conference - Creating New Stories for Scotlands Towns

Scotland's Towns Conference - Creating New Stories for Scotland's Towns - 07 November 2012

As the highlight of Scotland's Towns Week, this year’s Scotland's Towns Conference will be the perfect gathering for everyone with an interest in Scotland's towns and high streets.

Timed to capture and test the outcomes and ideas from the first meeting of the Scottish Government’s Towns Review Group, we anticipate attendance, this year in particular, will be a priority for national and local government politicians and officers and key stakeholder and representative bodies; all responsible for the influence of policy and strategic delivery across Scotland’s towns.

Scotland Towns Partnership hope that you will join them in participating either as a delegate or in taking up one of a range of commercial opportunities, designed to make your organisation synonymous with Scotland’s towns – you can sponsor, exhibit, put an insert in conference packs and this year, for the first time, run a fringe event.

For more information and to book see:





Heritage and the High Street - IHBC North West Branch, 17 October

IHBC North West Branch - Day Conference

at Liverpool Medical Institute, 114 Mount Pleasant Liverpool L3 5SR
on Wednesday 17th October 2012


According to a recent report by Deloitte, the future of High Streets in our towns and cities will consist of mainly coffee shops and internet kiosks- with 4 out of 10 shops closing in the next 5 years! this will be the direct effect in the change to consumer buying trends as shoppers move from traditional methods of shopping such as visiting the high street to on- line shopping.
This conference will address these and other challenging issues on how we can protect our historic environment and adapt to survive these changes by bringing together the retail sector to provide vitality and diversity with local authorities so as to create stability and regeneration.

By exhibiting at this event you will have the unique opportunity to present your company to an influential and professional audience from both the private and public sectors.  Delegates include Architects, Planners, Conservation & Development Officers, Engineers and Designers who are involved in the care and conservation of the historic built environment, and are at the forefront when the buying decisions and recommendations are made at both local and national level.

Please find information attached regarding the upcoming Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) one day Conference on Wednesday 17th October 2012.

Stand space size/ cost options (all prices exclude vat.) 
2m x 1m stand space @ £295          3m x 1m stand space £365
Please note- the exhibition will be for one day only – Wednesday 17th October 2012.

There is also an opportunity to have your company brochure included in the delegate packs which will be given to all delegates attending the event.  This facility is available at £90 for exhibitors or £125 for non exhibitors, (Up to 25gms per item. Heavier weights are acceptable however, a small add-on charge may be required.).

The attached leaflet contains all you need to know about the event, including the exhibition floor plan, facilities, prices, the delegates and the programme of events.

Exhibitors are recommended to make full use of the free delegate place included in the cost of the display. This special offer will enable an exhibitor representative to attend the conference sessions, receive refreshments and, of course, establish or renew useful contacts.

To reserve your stand space booking or should you require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me direct on any of the following: Tel: 01462 896688, Fax: 01462 896677.   Email:

Call to lobby Government on reversal of Heritage Tax

HTF agree completely with Loyd Grossman, Chairman of The Heritage Alliance’s excellent letter to The Times calling for a reversal of the budget measure to withdraw the zero VAT concession on approved alterations to listed buildings. The letter can now be viewed  on the Heritage Alliance website at

As Loyd says, the Chancellor has conceded that the proposal would inflict huge damage on historic places of worship. It is clearly in the long term interest of the country to retain the zero rating for all building types and for all owners.

Now that the pasty tax, the caravan tax, and the charity tax have been over turned, this is a critical time for the heritage sector.  We urge you to bring pressure to bear on any contacts you have in Westminster or Whitehall. Please see below the parliamentary briefing already sent by The Heritage Alliance to 85 or so MPs:

Withdrawal of VAT relief on approved alterations to Listed Buildings: briefing 3

29 May 2012

The Heritage Alliance believes the Government’s rationale for withdrawing VAT relief from alterations to listed buildings is fundamentally flawed.

We are calling for the VAT exemption for approved alterations to listed buildings to be retained, irrespective of building type or ownership.

The Government’s rationale is flawed because:

1.    Our Freedom of Information request reveals lack of evidence

The evidence for the Budget proposal to remove the zero rate of VAT over approved alterations to Listed Buildings is inadequate, and misleading over the level of abuse.

HMRC’s reply to our FoI request reveals:

  • their evidence consists of a sample of just over 100 cases (out of 29,000 listed building consent decisions 2010-11). This inadequate sample has been used to imply that this significant EU concession is unnecessary for heritage purposes
  • HMRC is unable to substantiate the Government’s  assertion that this ‘loophole’ is being abused to get tax relief on swimming pools, admitting “HMRC does not hold information on the breakdown of the total number of alterations by the type of alteration or by the number of swimming pools that have been installed”. This mischievous assertion has misled the debate by implying widespread abuse.

The evidence base justifying the Government’s proposal has been found to be lacking in substance and rigour, and its unsubstantiated press lines to be disingenuous.

2.   The consultation process for such a fundamental change of policy is inadequate

The consultation process is a far cry from usual Government Code of Practice. Instead of three months, the initial consultation deadline of 4 May (six weeks) was extended only to 18 May (eight weeks).

And the consultation does not comply with the first criterion of the Code, that “formal consultation should take place at a stage when there is scope to influence the policy outcome.”  Instead HMRC’s consultation document “VAT:  Addressing borderline anomalies” states: This consultation is being run for this shorter time as the legislation introducing the changes will be laid in the summer”, implying the outcome of the consultation is pre-determined.

These procedural shortcomings are particularly acute when considering that this decision is irreversible; this rare EU tax concession once lost can never be replaced.

3.   Strong consensus the impact will be greater than estimated

The clear consensus from the many letters and consultation responses copied to us is that the additional 20 per cent cost will have a much stronger adverse impact on desirable heritage work than the Government predicts - not only on the sustainability of our historic building stock but also on the level of construction work undertaken. Numerous schemes are being curtailed or cancelled, damaging not only our heritage but also local businesses and volunteer-led initiatives.

The Chancellor’s increase of £30m (to 2015) to the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme (17 May) concedes that the imposition of VAT will damage our heritage. It is nonsensical to recognise the damage to listed buildings in the hands of religious bodies, but not to those in the hands of community groups, small businesses and private owners. The Chancellor has favoured one building type but there are many other secular listed buildings, such as community centres and village halls, which face similarly acute challenges in raising money to give them a viable twenty first century lease of life.  Private owners also face higher costs for renovating listed buildings, and this renovation of our built heritage is very much in the public interest.  The Government’s proposal is an inadequate and inequitable ‘solution’.

4.  The public benefit of nationally designated heritage assets is ignored

The three per cent of buildings in this country that are Listed are, by definition, a public good. All owners of listed buildings take on responsibilities for the finest of our outstanding heritage on behalf of the nation, supporting economic growth through heritage led regeneration, tourism, construction and as a huge resource for the fast-growing creative industries. Whether they are congregations, local community groups, charities or private individuals, all owners deserve recognition. This is no time to be adding 20% to their costs.

This makes listed buildings unique amongst the categories of goods affected by this Statutory Instrument (hairdressers’ chairs, takeaway food, sports drinks). All our listed buildings are specifically designated as national assets for present and future generations. They should not be the victims of an HMRC drive for tidiness in their own internal operations.

For these reasons:

  • The Heritage Alliance calls for this Budget measure to be withdrawn
  • There should be no special treatment - the zero rate for approved alterations to listed buildings should be retained for all listed buildings, irrespective of building type or ownership.

CONTACT: For further information contact: Kate Pugh, Chief Executive, The Heritage Alliance 020 7233 0800 10 Storeys Gate, Westminster, London SW1P 3AY.


The Heritage Alliance is the largest coalition of heritage interests in England. Together its 92 members own, manage and care for the vast majority of England’s historic environment. Alliance members range from specialist advisers, practitioners and managers, volunteers and owners, to national funding bodies and organisations leading regeneration and access projects. Their specialist knowledge and expertise across a huge range of issues - regeneration and asset transfer - is a highly valuable national resource, much of which is contributed on a voluntary basis for public benefit. They are in turn supported by over five million members and thousands of local volunteer groups.

Two new publications offer a place-based approach to local distinctiveness

Congratulations go out to English Heritage and the City of Lincoln Council who have just launched two reports that together outline a local approach to capitalising on the inherited character of places. The documents are aimed at all people involved in place-shaping, including planners, developers, communities and third sector organisations.

Plans in Place: Taking a local approach to character in Lincoln demonstrates how a detailed knowledge of the inherited character can enhance the ways in which they are valued in the future. Using a series of 31 case studies Plans in Place shows how the Lincoln Townscape Assessment, a bespoke characterisation evidence-base for Lincoln, can be used in three key areas: Plan-making, Development Management and Community-led initiatives, including Neighbourhood Plans. Characterisation evidence, such as Conservation Area Appraisals, Townscape Assessments and Historic Landscape Characterisation, are held by the majority of local authorities and this report provides an inspirational insight, including 6 easy to use toolkits, into how their proactive use can be maximised to create and shape sustainable places.

Historic Townscape Characterisation - The Lincoln Townscape Assessment: A Case Study outlines the methodological approach used to document the inherited character of the places that make up Lincoln. It provides practical advice on how to create a detailed evidence-base for local character, building on the historic environment records held by most local authorities, and outlining the benefits such can deliver. The report also introduces the online interface developed to communicate the information identified through the Lincoln Townscape Assessment, which was short-listed for two E-Government Awards in 2010.

The good practice and project work outlined in the reports was recognised by the Royal Town Planning Institute in 2011, winning the Regional Award for 'Planning Process', and the 'Overall Winner' Award for the East Midlands. The Localism Act and the National Planning Policy Framework emphasise the need to build on the existing character and distinctiveness of places in planning future change. We hope that these reports will provide a useful insight into the approach being taken by the City of Lincoln Council and Partners to deliver these policy objectives.

The reports are available to view and download at A limited number of hard copy reports may be available from the City of Lincoln Council on request (please contact