August 2014 Newsletter

August 2014 Newsletter

Director’s Message

As I walked into work today I was struck by the amount of traffic. Being predominantly a walker and cyclist I’m rarely stuck in traffic jams, and don’t always see the tailbacks and congestion (mind on other things, like the beautiful buildings I am so lucky to work near). But it seemed so much worse today. Perhaps the weather has had an effect, people on holiday and so on, and it is the eight of tourist season but how sustainable is it really? And even with some really good Park & Ride facilities, I know that Oxford at least, has real parking issues. I won’t even attempt to address them here, but they can impact on resident experience, visitor experience, tourism, retail, and many other areas. To that end, Kelvin Reynolds, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the British Parking Association, has written for us our guest blog for this issue, on some of the ideas the British Parking Association has had around the parking issue and safety. Please do contact us at the HTF or Kelvin direct at the BPA if you have anything to add to the debate.

Enjoy the rest of your glorious summer (notwithstanding the rain!) and I hope you enjoy this issue.

Park Mark® is 10! Safer Parking for everyone.

Imagine if you will arriving at an unfamiliar town or city by car: how do you decide where to park? What do you look for? Somewhere convenient? Somewhere cheap or free? On street? Off-street in a car park? How do you know it's safe?

Park Mark® is the brand of the UK Safer Parking Scheme, launched in 2004 by the BPA who operate the Scheme and is probably the most successful vehicle crime reduction Scheme in the world. It is certainly one which has contributed to a very significant fall in vehicle related crime in the UK over the past 10 years. When choosing where to park, motorists should look out for ParkMark® car parks which means they are Police accredited parking and comprise quality management, appropriate lighting, effective surveillance and a clean environment. They can also search for their nearest Park Mark® car park using the dedicated Scheme website found at

So what has this got to do with Historic Towns? Well my experience has taught me that parking is a means to an end, it is the first and last impression of my ‘destination’; it needs to be good if I’m to contemplate returning there again and again. This is especially true in the retail and commercial world where [hopefully] my custom is valued. It is equally true when I visit an unfamiliar town or city, park at a rail station, or simply spend a day at leisure maybe visiting a historic town. It's an old cliché but the old ones are the best: ‘You only get one chance to make a good first impression!’

Equally important is my need to feel intuitively safe and welcome wherever I choose to park and seeking out ParkMark® supports my desire to achieve that.

Park Mark® is as much about reducing the fear of crime as it is in reducing actual crime in car parks, and ensuring that car parks and properly designed and managed. Practitioners involved in the design of the public realm and who will help to deliver the renaissance of our historic towns and cities must strive to provide parking facilities and controls which balance the need for accessibility to these places with the requirement to preserve or indeed restore the original characteristics that attracted the journey in the first place!

At the BPA we work closely with a multitude of local authorities, businesses and other organisations who deliver parking services throughout the UK. Our aim is simple: ‘Excellence in Parking for All’ and we seek to educate our members in promoting best practice and sharing knowledge. We also work with other organisations and are pleased to be associated with Historic Towns Forum which is a full member of our Parking Forum. The Forum, a multi-agency ‘think tank’, comprises a number of organisations with whom we explore and share information about the way in which parking is enforced, provided, serviced and maintained. I look forward to continuing a conversation with you in the coming months through your newsletter and would welcome any feedback. Please write to me at

Kelvin Reynolds is the Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the British Parking Association.

Latest news

Heritage Alliance Heroes awards

The Heritage Alliance Heroes awards 2014 are now open for applications. The scheme is intended to celebrate the outstanding contribution to society made by heritage volunteers in England. The award scheme is open to all Alliance member organisations and their members. Applications should be submitted by 15th September.
Read more

The Power of Heritage – Heritage Alliance manifesto

The Heritage Alliance has launched its manifesto – The Power of Heritage, which it hopes will influence the political parties in the run up to the general election in 2015. The Alliance appeals for 12 changes national legislation and policy so that the benefits of heritage-social, economic, educational and environmental-can be realised. Top of the Alliance’s list is a reduction in VAT from 20% to 5% for works to buildings in residential use. The Alliance also calls on all political parties to support Historic England and to review how well it is working in partnership with others.
Read more

Infrastructure Bill included in Queen’s Speech

The Queen’s Speech delivered in Parliament on 6th June set out the Coalition Government’s proposed legislation for its final year of office before the election in 2015. Included in the speech were:

  • The Infrastructure Bill to bolster investment in infrastructure and reform planning law; (more on this below)
  • The Governance of National Parks (England) and the Broad Bill to introduce direct elections to National Parks ;
  • The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill to give smaller businesses access to public procurement contracts

Full details of the Queens Speech are available on the Government web site:
Read more

Details of Infrastructure Bill announced by DfT

The Department for Transport has announced further details of the proposed Infrastructure Bill announced in the Queens Speech. The bill is intended to provide £2.6 billion to boost the economy over the next 10 years by:

  • Improving the funding and management of major roads
  • Streamlining the planning process for major projects
  • Protecting infrastructure from invasive plants and animals
  • Supply house building
  • Make it easier and cheaper to register land and property
  • Helping communities become stakeholders in renewable energy projects.

Full details of the intended bill are on the Government web site:
Read more

Tourism Council to be set up

A ‘Tourism Council’ is to be set up by a partnership of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and representatives of the tourism and hospitality sector. The Council will work to improve skills, increase the quality and quantity of jobs, and boost enterprise across the industry. The Council will be made up of 22 members representing Government, transport, hospitality, entertainment, travel and accommodation. Members so far include VisitBritain, VisitEngland, Whitbread, Easyjet, and John Lewis. Its first meeting was held in July.
Read more

NHPP consultation report

English Heritage has issued the report on the findings of the consultation on the next version of the National Heritage Protection Plan. Key points of the report include:

  • Broad support for a unifying framework that identifies the most important things to be done, and 56% of online respondents felt that  it was clear what the current plan aimed to achieve
  • General agreement that the right opportunities, threats and priorities for heritage had been identified
  • Need for more clarity of roles and responsibilities of the organisations
  • People and organisations would like to find out more about how to get involved
  • Presentation and language of the NHPP needs to be clearer.

The next NHPP 2015-2020 is being developed by the independent advisory board and should be published later this year.
Read more

Ministers advise on protection of bowling greens

Ministers from the Department for Communities and Local Government have written to all English councils highlighting measures that can be taken to protect green spaces including bowling greens, following a debate in Parliament. The measures referred to include: the powers to list land or buildings as Assets of Community Value; the NPPF statement that existing open spaces, sports and recreation buildings should not be built upon unless an assessment demonstrates that there is no alternative; and the provisions for Local Green Space designation.
Read more

Wolfson Prize shortlist

The five shortlisted entrants for the 2014 Wolfson Prize on proposals for new garden cities have been announced. They are:

  • Barton Wilmore led by James Gross
  • Chris Blundell, Director of Development and Regeneration at Golding Homes
  • David Rudlin of URBED
  • Shelter
  • Wei Wang Partners

The winner will be announced in the early Autumn. Read more

Historic Environment Scotland Bill passes first stage

The Historic Environment Scotland Bill completed stage 1 of its progress through the Scottish Parliament on 19th June. The bill includes the setting up of Historic Environment Scotland which brings together the functions of Historic Scotland and RCAHMS.
Read more

Scottish National Planning Framework 3

Scotland’s third National Planning Framework (NPF3) has been launched by Planning Minister Derek Mackay. The Framework and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) will together shape long term economic development and local planning policy in areas such as transport, town centres, energy and infrastructure.
Read more

Increased powers for Scottish Communities

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, which was published in June, is intended to make it simpler for communities in Scotland to take over public sector land and buildings. The existing community right to buy will be streamlined and extended to cover all parts of Scotland by 2020.
Read more

Museums and Heritage Awards

The 2014 Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence include:

  • The Victoria and Albert Museum as Best of the Best
  • The Netherlands National Archive for the International award
  • Haslemere Education Museum as Project on a Limited Budget
  • The Mary Rose Trust for Restoration or Conservation.

Read more

HMRC drops plans to prevent charities being set up to avoid tax

HM Revenue and Customs has announce that the Government no longer intends to introduce new legislation to prevent charities being established to avoid tax. Instead existing and recently introduced powers will be used to challenge and deter abuse of charitable status.
Read more

The Planning Awards 2014

The inaugural Planning Awards for 2014 are now open for entries. The awards will be made for outstanding achievements in planning work by local authorities, consultants, developers, lawyers, voluntary and neighbourhood groups and all other key players in the planning system. The deadline for entries is 27th August. Read more

National Heritage Ironwork Group gains charitable status

The National Heritage Ironwork Group (NHIG) has been granted charitable status by the Charity Commission. The object of the charity is to advance public awareness and knowledge of heritage ironwork. It recently issued its Conservations Principles for Heritage Forged and Cast Ironwork.
Read more

Ministerial reshuffle

The changes to ministerial responsibilities announced by the Prime Minister in July included several relating to environmental, planning and housing matters. In particular Liz Truss replaced Owen Paterson as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and Brandon Lewis was promoted to Minister of State at DCLG combining responsibilities for planning and housing. Full details of the changes are on the Government website.
Read more

HLF seeks new Chair

The Heritage Lottery Fund has launched a campaign to recruit a Chair to lead both the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The current Chair, Dame Jenny Ambramsky, is due to step down in August.
Read more

Civic Voice campaign to promote local heritage lists

Civic Voice, with the support of English Heritage, has launched a campaign to promote the adoption of local heritage lists by local authorities. A series of workshops, seminars and conferences on local heritage listing are taking place in:

  • Peterborough 19th July
  • Hull 26th July
  • Birmingham 29th July
  • Nottingham 16th September
  • Blackpool 25th September
  • Canterbury
  • 25th October.

Read more

Local planning authorities to lose powers if too many appeals lost

Local planning authorities could have powers taken away if more than 20% of their major planning decisions are overturned at appeal. This is one of the measures included in the criteria which the Government intends to use to ‘designate’ local planning authorities whose performance it judges to be unsatisfactory. If a local authority is designated then planning applications could be submitted direct to the Planning Inspectorate.

Read more

CPRE campaign to identify disused land

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is inviting members of the public to identify unused property in their local area. This follows a report earlier in the year that the Government’s planning reforms are unnecessarily damaging the countryside and failing to prioritise the reuse of brownfield land and regeneration of urban areas. The new digital campaign will run for six months.

Read more

Government rejects Environmental Audit committee advice on charging for carrier bags

The Government has chosen to exempt smaller businesses from the requirement to charge for carrier bags despite a recommendation from the Environment Audit Committee that there should be a system of universal charging, as there has been in Wales since 2011. The Government also intends to exempt paper bags from the charge, thus allowing any retailers who wish to avoid the charge to switch to paper, and even though paper bags from fast food are one of the most common items of litter.

Read more

Shale gas licences bidding commences

The bidding process for licences to explore potential for shale gas extraction has commenced. The licences will initially give permission only exploration but could lead to permission for extraction in appropriate areas, subject to planning permission being granted.
The Government has also announced that new planning guidance will be issued making clear that permission should be granted for extraction in AONBs, World heritage Sites, National Parks and the Broads only in exceptional circumstances.

Read more

Events and Seminars

Neighbourhood Planning – how to do it with heritage 13 August, Oxford – LAST CHANCE TO BOOK!

There are now around 1,000 Neighbourhood Plans being prepared around the country and heritage is a significant issue for many of them. HTF Chair, Dave Chetwyn, will facilitate a practical workshop to show how to deal with heritage through the Neighbourhood Plan process. Dave is Managing Director of Urban Vision Enterprise, Planning Advisor to Locality, author of the Locality Neighbourhood Planning Roadmap Guide and he has acted as a neighborhood plan independent examiner. Dave will be joined by speakers from DCLG and local case studies now putting their plans into practice.

Book here


Historic Built Environment Seminars Oxford 2014 – October 14 – FREE EVENT

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.

The first of these took place on 25 February, and was a full house, and a resounding success, featuring David Lock, of David Lock Associates (and ex- Milton Keynes Development Corporation Chief Planner) on New Towns and Masterplanning. This was followed on June 03 by Elain Harwood from English Heritage, on The building of the English New Towns, and was a riveting and lively canter through the history of the New towns movement.

Seminars begin with wine and nibbles at 7pm, followed by the seminar and discussion at 7.30pm. The event will finish at 9pm. The remaining seminars are as follows:

14 October Peter Larkham, Birmingham City University, on Conserving the post-Second World War reconstruction: a contentious idea

These are free events. Register here or register online
Please do join us!
Read more

Forthcoming Historic Towns Events – these will be online shortly

Retail and Tourism in Historic Towns - 15 October – Poulton-on-Fylde, Lancashire

We are currently planning a Retail and Tourism in Historic Towns event in Wyre, for October, with support from VisitEngland, English Heritage, Wyre Council and Revive & Thrive and Blue Sail. Ask for details here

Annual Conference – 25 November – Chester

Our Annual Conference this year will be held in the Chapter House at Chester Cathedral in November, and will focus on Growth Issues in Historic Towns. The event is supported by Donald Insall Associates and speakers include Donald Insall Associates, Chester Renaissance, English Heritage, HTF, and others. Ask for details here

Partner Events

Talking Townscapes Gordon Cullen walk – 11 August Today) 6.00pm - London

Would you like to come on a celebratory walk from the Tower to Westminster on Monday 11 August from 6.00pm?  It is a walk to mark the life and influence of Gordon Cullen, architect, illustrator and visual urbanist (b. August 1914).

Writing in the Architectural Review, Gordon Cullen encapsulated the concept of visual coherence and organisation of our urban environment, under the theme of ‘townscape’.  He wrote a seminal book with the title Townscape published in 1961. Some have argued that many of his ideas and observations were not sufficiently robust, others have seen him in better light, as a significant contributor to visual urbanism, architectural history, and urban design as well as an accomplished illustrator.

Along the route, there will be stops to discuss (photograph & sketch) themes that Cullen described in ‘Townscape’ that encapsulated his arguments that visual coherence and organisation of buildings, streets and places contribute on a human scale to the civility of our cities. The walk is free but Talking Townscape would welcome donations to a fund to create an annual 3-day Talking Townscape Festival each August and an on-line platform to publicise walks and events to celebrate Cullen’s life and work.
Register here

Civic Convention 2014

Civic Voice will hold its fifth annual convention, in Canterbury, on the 24th and 25th October.
Read more and book here

Heritage Open Days 20th anniversary

Heritage Open Days will be held throughout the country from Thursday 11th to Sunday 14th September. This will be the 20th year of the open days when thousands of buildings, sites and gardens which do not otherwise have public access are opened for free.
Read more


HLF major funding awards

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded a total of £72m to six major sites in England:

  • Canterbury Cathedral
  • Nottingham Castle
  • Bath Abbey
  • Beamish Open Air Museum
  • Blackpool Museum
  • Plymouth History Centre

For this and other recent HLF funding news, see below.
Read more

New VisitBritain CEO brings strong digital and commercial skills

Christopher Rodrigues, our Chairman, today announced the appointment of Sally Balcombe as our next Chief Executive Officer, following a competitive appointment process and with the full support of all board members.
Read more

£5m to repair First World War memorials

A fund of £5m has been set up to help conserve and protect war memorials. The fund has been established by a partnership of Civic Voice, English Heritage, War Memorials Trust, IWM and DCMS.
Read more

Icon funding for conservation

The Institute of Conservation (Icon) has established a fund to provide grants for professional development for mud career conservators. Grants will range from £300 to £900 and between and 20 will be awarded each year.
Read more


Northern Ireland Planning Reform

A consultation is underway on the proposed introduction of a two tier planning structure in Northern Ireland. It is intended that local councils will be responsible for developing their own local development plan and determining the majority of planning applications with only regionally significant applications being determined by the Department of the Environment. The consultation period will end on 20th August 2014. Read more

Housing Strategy for Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Executive has proposed that for the first time development of new housing of five or more units should include an element of social housing. The new obligation is part of the proposed Housing Strategy for Northern Ireland. The Department for Social Development is consulting on the proposed policy and the suggested level of contributions.
Read more

Good Practice in Planning Consultation

English Heritage is undertaking consultation on Historic Environment Good Practice Advice in Planning. EH has published 3 advice notes on good practice relating to

  • The Historic Environment in local plans
  • Decision Taking in the Historic Environment
  • The Setting of Heritage Assets.

It is inviting comments on the 3 notes from those engaged in the planning system as it relates to the historic environment. The consultation period ends on 5th September.
Read more

Publications and Toolkits

Planning Practice Guidance published online

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has launched the final ‘alpha’ version of the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) online. This is accompanied by a list of previous planning practice guidance documents that are superseded by the guidance.
Read more

Loss of local authority conservation staffing THAT NEW ONE IN NEWSLETTTER FOLDER

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

IHBC Research Note - VAT and Heritage

The Institute of Historic Building Conservation has issued a research note on ‘Policy regarding VAT and historic buildings’. The document can be downloaded from the IHBC web site.
Read more

Environmental Audit Committee report on HS2

The Government’s Environmental Audit Committee has issued its report on HS2 and the Environment. The report recommends that the Government should aim higher than its objective of no net biodiversity loss and says that it has significant work to do to demonstrate that it has put the “mitigation hierarchy” at the heart of its approach. The report includes a comprehensive set of recommendations.
Read more

GB Tourism Survey 2014

The tourism survey figures for March 2014 have been published by Visit England. The number of trips, nights away and spend were all lower than in March 2013. However, the Easter holiday was later this year and the weather for the early months of the year was exceptionally wet and unsettled. Full details of the survey are on the Visit England web site.
Visit Britain has also published a report giving details of the effect on tourism of factors including the UK and international economy, weather and exchange rates
Read more  and more

Study of High Street performance

The University of Southampton has published a report on recent trends in high street performance. It shows that there has been a modest revival in some high street activity, especially for specialist retailers such as artisan bakers, butchers and tea and coffee merchants.
Read more

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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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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