17 Current and future context – Progress and Challenges
20 Our commitment
This report has been prepared by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The following partners have contributed to this statement:
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Department for Children, Schools and Families
Department for Communities and Local Government
The Crown Estate
The Department of Energy and Climate Change
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Department of Health
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Defence
Introduction and Overview
The Vision: That the value of the historic environment is recognised by all who have the power to shape it; that Government gives it proper recognition and that it is managed intelligently and in a way that fully realises its contribution to the economic, social and cultural life of the nation.
The Government believes that the historic environment is an asset of enormous cultural, social, economic and environmental value. It makes a very real contribution to our quality of life and the quality of our places. We recognise that while some of today’s achievements may become tomorrow’s heritage our existing heritage assets are also simply irreplaceable. We realise the importance of understanding, conserving, and where appropriate, enhancing the markers of our past. We believe in encouraging a wider involvement in our heritage, in order to ensure that everyone, both today and in the future, has an opportunity to discover their connection to those who have come before.
Aside from its inherent cultural value, the historic environment also has an important role to play in helping Government to achieve many of its broader goals. It can be a powerful driver for economic growth, attracting investment and tourism, and providing a focus for successful regeneration. Alongside the best in new design, it is an essential element in creating distinctive, enjoyable and successful places in which to live and work. Heritage can be a significant focus for the local community, helping to bring people together, to define local identities and to foster a new understanding of ourselves and those around us.
The historic environment even has a role to play in assisting us to meet one of the greatest challenges we face for the future. By promoting the inherent sustainability of historic buildings and their surroundings and by learning from them and the other types of evidence left by the low carbon economies of the past, we can make real progress in helping to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
To fully realise all this potential, however, it is vital not only that those who actively manage the historic environment, but also all those who have the potential to impact on it, recognise the contribution it can make to our collective aims.
At the same time we must recognise that change is inevitable. While it is right to provide protection and support for our past, this must be managed intelligently, with an appropriate balance of priorities and an understanding of what could be gained or lost.
For Government this work starts, but does not end, with our statutory responsibilities for heritage protection; the designation and consent systems for heritage assets, and the management of the planning process. In shaping places, Government at all levels must give priority to creating high quality environments for those who use them, developing and implementing policies which seek to retain local distinctiveness and give due weight to the obligation to protect, enhance and promote the historic environment. At the same time it is also important that the public sector continues to invest in our own significant historic estate, recognising the impact we have on quality of place, and our responsibility to provide examples of good practice to others who own and seek to develop historic places.
Nevertheless, caring for our heritage is not something that we could, or should try to do alone. Government does have a significant role to play in setting strategic priorities while English Heritage provides expert advice to assist Government in carrying out its responsibilities, and a number of publicly funded bodies look after, and open to the public, historic properties which are the responsibility of Government. However the vast majority of our heritage is owned and cared for by others, including private individuals, faith communities and charitable bodies, so achieving our aims requires strong and effective partnerships. This is something to which we are firmly committed.
This document is intended to help Government to realise its vision for the historic environment, and to assist us in working jointly with others to achieve our aims. In it we set out our understanding of the value of the historic environment, and the many roles that Government and others can play. We consider the key opportunities for future involvement and the challenges we must address. Our analysis of these challenges and opportunities has led us to six broad strategic aims that we should strive to meet.
Strategic aims for taking us forward
1 Strategic Leadership: Ensure that relevant policy, guidance, and standards across Government emphasize our responsibility to manage England’s historic environment for present and future generations.
2 Protective Framework: Ensure that all heritage assets are afforded an appropriate and effective level of protection, while allowing, where appropriate, for well managed and intelligent change.
3 Local Capacity: Encourage structures, skills and systems at a local level which: promote early consideration of the historic environment; ensure that local decision makers have access to the expertise they need; and provide sufficiently skilled people to execute proposed changes to heritage assets sensitively and sympathetically.
4 Public Involvement: Promote opportunities to place people and communities at the centre of the designation and management of their local historic environment and to make use of heritage as a focus for learning and community identity at all levels.
5 Direct Ownership: Ensure all heritage assets in public ownership meet appropriate standards of care and use while allowing, where appropriate, for well managed and intelligent change.
6 Sustainable Future: Seek to promote the role of the historic environment within the Government’s response to climate change and as part of its sustainable development agenda.
What do we mean by
the historic environment?
The physical legacy of thousands of years of human activity in this country is all around us in the form of buildings, monuments, landscapes and sites. It is a legacy of trade, population movement, architectural and artistic endeavour, economic, political and social development and the use of natural resources from prehistory to the present.
It is easy to identify the historic environment with iconic buildings and monuments, the cathedrals and castles of tourist guidebooks. These are rightly important to us and are of special interest to many people, but they are only a small part of the historic environment. Our history is equally reflected in the homes of ordinary people, in the street plans of historic towns and cities, in farm buildings and factories, in our public places, the landscapes we have created, and sites beneath our seas.
Many of the most significant heritage assets are given specific protection through our national systems of listing, scheduling, designation and registration. Some are also recognised internationally as World Heritage Sites and others are locally designated. It is also true that some heritage assets are not currently designated, but that should not necessarily be taken as an indication of their lack of significance.
At the same time we recognise that our sense of ourselves and our place in history does not derive solely from the historic environment as we describe it above. Our heritage embraces much more: from the smallest preserved objects of our past to historic ships and trains, and our intangible heritage of folklore, skills, traditions and biodiversity. All of these things are of significance and deserve to be cherished. While this statement does not seek to address these forms of wider heritage, it is important to note that the Government supports efforts to sustain them and make them accessible to everybody. We continue to value the advice we receive in all such areas, from bodies ranging from the Advisory Committee on National Historic Ships, which operates national registers of the most significant vessels and advises Government on all related matters, to the Treasure Valuation Committee which was established to provide independent scrutiny of valuations of finds of treasure that museums wish to acquire from the Crown and to advise the Secretary of State on related matters.
The value of the
Investing in heritage makes good sense. The historic environment includes some of our most important cultural artefacts which offer economic, environmental, social and personal benefits and can play a significant role in providing for sustainable development.
In May 2009 the Government published World Class Places – The Government’s strategy for improving quality of place.
In it we stated that:
“Quality of place matters in many ways....Bad planning and design and careless maintenance encourage crime, contribute to poor health, undermine community cohesion, deter investment, spoil the environment and, over the long term, incur significant costs.” 1
The strategy identifies four elements of quality of place, one of which is the treatment of historic buildings and places.
“High quality places ....understand the value of and make the most of their historic environment – of the infrastructure and buildings that past generations have bequeathed them.” 2
Indeed, evidence suggests that 9 out of 10 people agree that when improving local places, it is worth saving their historic features.3 The Government would like all places to be attractive, valued, safe and sustainable, with a good mix of facilities, services and opportunities, a strong sense of identity, ample green space, a lively public realm and good community life. The historic environment clearly has an important role in this and should be seen as a vital contributor to improving the quality of place, and quality of life, for all.
Heritage contributes to prosperity by providing employment and training at every level, adding value to many developments and acting as a vital component of our tourism industry. A well cared-for historic environment is one of the keys to making a locality attractive to people, encouraging the retention of skilled workers and attracting inward investment.
Heritage can act as a catalyst in helping towns, cities and rural areas to regenerate and transform to modern needs. In areas of economic change and industrial decline, historic buildings have provided a focus for schemes and projects that have helped to trigger wider regeneration. They have been usefully adapted for cultural purposes, like art centres, galleries or museums, and flexible accommodation has been created for housing, small businesses, social enterprises, creative industries, charitable organisations and a range of other occupiers.
Investing in the historic environment can also encourage local growth by providing jobs, maintaining and enhancing skills and encouraging the use of local materials and services. Conservation and heritage offer employment at a variety of levels, with great potential for developing professional and craft skills. These jobs tend to be distributed across the country, as our heritage is, reflecting the need for specialist local knowledge in vernacular materials, archaeological and construction techniques.
And of course heritage is also a key strength of England as a tourist destination, attracting both domestic and international visitors whether to historic town centres, faith buildings, homes and monuments, parks and gardens, the National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or the legacies of our industrial past, seen in the diverse range of heritage assets associated with our canals and rivers. Heritage tourism directly accounts for £4.3 billion in GDP and 113,000 employees in the UK. Including historic green spaces this figure rises to £7.4 billion and 195,000 employees, making the sector larger than car manufacturing and advertising.4
Norwich 12 is an initiative by the Heritage Economic & Regeneration Trust (HEART), to transform 12 fragmented, often competing and separately managed venues into a co-ordinated cultural heritage destination, showcasing the development of the English City over the last 1000 years. Delivering co-ordinated education initiatives, promotion, events, regeneration schemes and pioneering the use of new technologies, N12 has secured wide-ranging economic, social and cultural benefits. These have included a Dragon Festival generating 55,000 visits over a month, a promotional guide which won the Creative East Award for Best Factual Publication 2009, Conservation Management Plans for all venues – a unique achievement in the UK; the use of cutting edge virtual reality modelling, web site and Bluetooth delivery information systems and a wide span of education projects from adult evening classes, through student bursaries to projects with local schools. One of the UK’s finest urban collections of individually outstanding heritage buildings spanning the last millennium can now function as a genuinely effective driver for economic, social and cultural regeneration.
Norwich 12 was funded through the Treasury’s Invest to Save Budget, with the support of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
In addition to their economic benefit, adapting existing buildings to new uses can be the most environmentally sustainable option for development. When managed well, using what is already there can be both environmentally more efficient and result in high quality schemes which retain a uniquely valuable sense of character. Where materials for historic building and landscape conservation can still be sourced locally, development also supports local industries and their communities. This again helps to secure local investment and lower transport costs.
Investment in historic buildings can be an energy efficient option, saving the energy associated with demolition, the creation and delivery of materials, the building process and waste disposal. One quarter of our existing building stock dates from before 1919 and represents a considerable carbon investment in its own right. No-one would claim that retaining existing buildings is automatically the best choice. But there should not be a presumption that new build will be better. Research has demonstrated that it is possible to make cost effective improvements to historic buildings which save energy without damaging their appearance and contribution to the quality of the local environment. The options available in each case should be examined thoroughly and with the full range of relevant professional advice.
Engaging Places is a DCMS-supported initiative that champions teaching and learning through all aspects of the built environment, from grand historic buildings to the streets and neighbourhoods in which we live. It has been designed to help deliver the new secondary school curriculum, and supports initiatives including ‘Learning outside the classroom’ and ‘Find your talent’. It is being delivered as a joint project by English Heritage and CABE, and is supported by a national partnership of leading cultural and education organisations. In January 2009 Engaging Places launched a major new online teaching resource, http://www.engagingplaces.org.uk/. Schools can use this website to access a nationwide directory of organisations and venues, including architecture centres, museums and historic buildings. They can search for high quality resources and materials by curriculum theme or whole school issues, and can access case studies from teachers.
By supplying a focus for civic activity and offering opportunities for learning and recreation the historic environment can also be the foundation for more engaged and active communities. At its most basic, in providing distinctive local features and a tangible link to the past, the historic environment is often central to local identity in both urban and rural areas. Local environments which offer a range of attractive and accessible public spaces, including local heritage, also encourage people of all backgrounds to enjoy them, creating places where people come together and mix. Taking this one step further, by encouraging people not just to enjoy, but also to involve themselves in the management of historic places and make active use of
them for their own benefit, we can help to create a sense of ownership in the locality and so help to strengthen local communities. There are benefits for the individual too. Studies have shown that active involvement in cultural activities can offer a physical or emotional benefit to those taking part.5 The historic environment can also be used to enrich formal and informal education and life-long learning, and for children in particular, OFSTED research has shown that learning outside the classroom offers real educational benefit.
Liverpool Duke Street / Rope Walks
The transformation of the Rope Walks, Liverpool, an area in the very heart of the city, is an example of a highly effective Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme and evidence of the power of conservation-led regeneration. The area is of immense townscape interest and is protected as a conservation area and since 2004, as part of the Liverpool World Heritage Site. Having once been a thriving manufacturing and commercial area close to Liverpool’s docks – second only to London as the most important port in the British Empire in the 19th century – the area entered decline in the 20th century as the nature of both manufacturing and commerce changed. It suffered high vacancy levels and physical dilapidation. In 2000, the year the THI scheme began, many of the buildings were close to collapse or in ruins. The fortunes of the area are now turning full circle. £15m has been invested in the regeneration of the Rope Walks £7.5m from HLF, English Partnerships and the European Regional Development Fund and the rest levered in through private sources. “The local population has increased from some 100 – 200 people to several thousand and the area is now a thriving creative quarter in the city.” CABE case study www.cabe.org.uk/casestudies/liverpool-rope-walks
18 buildings brought back into use, including listed warehouses & houses.
6000m of building repair
2400 m22 of residential space brought back into use (or 85 rooms)
4600 m2 of non-residential space brought back into use
A number of gap sites were filled creating 3,500 m2 of residential space and 7,500m2 of non-residential space.
“The completed scheme has created a coherent high quality network of streets and public spaces with a strong local identity. They have also helped to stimulate inward investment with numerous private conversions and new build residential and commercial developments bringing activity to a previously neglected part of the City.” CABE
At its heart however we should never forget that our historic environment is a vital cultural asset which needs to be appropriately protected, supported and explored for the benefit of this and future generations. In common with other cultural artefacts many of the buildings, landscapes and archaeological sites that make up the historic environment can be highly valued in and of themselves. They may simply have outstanding aesthetic appeal; they may represent important works by leading architects, designers or artists; they may embody significant innovations in design or technology or represent important primary evidence of a phase of our history. But they all help to tell us where we have come from and give us a sense of who we are.
Spitalfields: archaeology, regeneration
and public benefit
Archaeological excavations in Spitalfields in London E1 were commissioned by the Spitalfields Development Group under PPG16. The work, carried out by Museum of London Archaeology, yielded important discoveries including 10,500 Roman and medieval burials, valuable research about more recent burials, 50 buildings including the medieval priory of St Mary Spital and evidence across 1.5 hectares of diverse 16th-19th century neighbourhoods including French Huguenots, Irish and Jewish settlers.
However, it was the imaginative approach to stakeholder engagement and inclusion which captured public imagination. The developers and archaeologists celebrated the archaeological discoveries in ‘real time’, creating opportunities for school tours, multi-media displays about archaeology, and a visitor centre on site that attracted 27,000 visitors in 24 weeks.
Thousands of local children, families, businesses and special interest groups – including groups initially against the development – actively participated in unearthing the historic and contemporary identity of Spitalfields. Community ownership of those stories was key, and the developers commented that the cumulative success of the stakeholder engagement programme was one of the single biggest factors in turning around local opinion.
The role of Government
and our Partners
Central Government has an important role to play in realising the potential of our heritage assets. By offering political leadership and pursuing policies which recognise their impact on the historic environment, the Government can make a significant positive contribution. As a funder, developer and owner of the nation’s public buildings, public land, and other heritage assets, the Government can directly demonstrate good practice, and as a legislator it can seek to ensure that our system of heritage protection is effective, proportionate and fair.
But while central Government sets national policy, much of the system relies on local government. It is local government that has a crucial role in master planning, designing and maintaining local areas, buildings, parks, streetscapes and other public spaces. Through their local development frameworks, local authorities are responsible for producing a vision for their area which responds to local character and opportunities. The vast majority of planning applications and heritage consents are determined at a local level in accordance with the local development framework, and it is the local authorities and the National Parks and Broads Authorities who must ensure that the public benefits of our historic environment are fully realised through the decision-making process. It is here too that enforcement largely takes place.
But important as its role is, Government, whether central or local, cannot act alone. The full potential of the historic environment can only be realised if we work closely with our partners and the wider community throughout the public, private, and voluntary sectors. Central government funds English Heritage to be its expert adviser on the historic environment but English Heritage also provides information and advice to the public and supports local authorities in managing the heritage assets in their care through information, guidance, training and specific advice on planning applications relating to the most important listed buildings. Another significant resource for our heritage is embodied in the third sector heritage organisations which possess a wide range of highly specialised knowledge. Much of this expertise is offered on a voluntary basis through the heritage protection regime and other advisory roles and through skills training. The third sector can also play an active role in local place-making in other ways. For instance, building preservation trusts are often the catalyst for local regeneration projects that respond sensitively to community needs and can generate significant commercial investment.
Of course Government and its partners themselves own and open to the public a number of historic buildings ranging from major visitor attractions such as Stonehenge and the Tower of London to redundant churches. These are looked after by arms length bodies with particular expertise including English Heritage, Historic Royal Palaces and the Churches Conservation Trust. But a large proportion of the historic environment is actually in charitable or private ownership, and while there are some significant historic estates, many listed buildings and structures are modest in scale and owned by people of relatively limited means. It is important that Government continues to recognise the role that all owners play in caring for the nation’s heritage.
Kennet & Avon Canal Restoration
The Kennet & Avon Canal forms a 140 km long waterway link between the River Thames at Reading and the city of Bristol. Opened in 1810, the canal was closed to through navigation in 1955. Over the next 30 years the canal was gradually restored by a partnership comprising British Waterways, the riparian local authorities, the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and local businesses. Despite reopening in 1990, substantial work was still needed to secure the long term sustainability of the canal. The development and approval of a £25 million restoration project in 1996, supported mainly through the Heritage Lottery Fund with supplementary funding from existing partners, has helped to achieve this sustainability.
By 2005, the restored canal had generated an increase in visits of 22% compared with the 1995 baseline, with expenditure by these visitors increasing by 59% to £31 million per annum over the same period. The number of boats based on the canal grew by almost 40% to over 1,400. The restoration delivered an additional 385 recreation and tourism-related jobs in local economies along the canal, in addition to the 700 or so jobs that were safeguarded by the scheme. Between 1995 and 2005 around £400 million investment in waterside developments took place, particularly in the Reading area, creating around 2,700 jobs in canalside offices and retail developments. The restoration has also been welcomed by communities along the canal corridor. In interview surveys of local people, 91% said that they felt that the restored canal made their part of England special, with 55% visiting it more frequently since it was restored. Further information about the Kennet & Avon Canal and its restoration can be found on the websites of British Waterways (www.britishwaterways.co.uk/south-west/) and Kennet & Avon Canal Trust (www.katrust.org/).
Current and future context
– Progress and Challenges
The past decade has seen some excellent progress in the way Government and its partners value and manage the historic environment, and in public participation and support for heritage.
For many, heritage has become an increasingly popular leisure time activity. The Government’s mass participation survey Taking Part has shown that around 70% of all adults make an active choice to visit historic places every year. Heritage Open Days attracts around 1 million visitors every September, making it England’s biggest and most popular cultural event, and National Archaeology Week has become a two week festival of archaeology featuring over 600 activities. Membership of both English Heritage and the National Trust has never been higher at 687,000 and 3.6 million respectively, and the historic environment can also boast an exceptionally large and active voluntary sector. There are almost half a million historic environment volunteers giving over 58 million hours annually and over 850 civic societies and 300 Building Preservation Trusts.6
The public and private sectors alike have responded to this level of interest in our heritage. Since Government designated it as one of the lottery ‘good causes’ in 1994, the Heritage Lottery Fund has been able to support over 30,000 projects at a cost of £4.3 billion.7 Many of these have been led by community organisations across a wide range of heritage. Through its other agencies and bodies, Government has also made significant direct investment in the care and conservation of the nation’s most important heritage assets, with local authorities taking the lead for those of local significance. As just one example, Defra has recognised the important link between landscapes and their associated historic rural features through its successful agri-environment schemes, including Environmental Stewardship, which is administered by Natural England and means that the rural historic environment benefits from the EU’s Rural Development Programme. Since 2001 around £90 million from the RDPE has been invested in a wide range of rural conservation and refurbishment projects from protection of buried archaeological sites to the restoration of historic farm buildings. Furthermore, since 2002 the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund has provided around £30m for historic environment projects relevant to quarrying and marine dredging. This has included a significant contribution to archaeological research.
Charitable and private investment also continues to make an immense contribution, including support for heritage at risk. Heritage organisations benefitted from £225 million in private investment in 2008-9, which accounts for over half of all individual giving in the UK’s cultural sector.8 And where Government through strategies like World Class Places has increasingly come to appreciate the importance of the historic environment to quality of place, many private investors and developers have drawn a similar conclusion. Most contemporary development takes place within a historic context, and rather than seeing this as a constraint on design creativity, a growing number of successful developments have made effective use of pre-existing and locally distinctive heritage assets to create more imaginative schemes and attract further investment. It was a creative private conversion of 349 19th century terraced houses in Salford for example that won the 2008 Housing Design Award, and a private, voluntary and public sector partnership that was responsible for the transformation of a disused prison on the historic site of Oxford Castle into an award-winning, mixed-use scheme. As a major funder of archaeology, the commercial development sector has also contributed to important research into the often hidden remains of our rich past, and enhanced public education about it. Together, public and private investment has made an enormous contribution to an urban renaissance in our historic city centres. In cities like Bristol and Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle, imaginative investment has brought good urban design, great architecture and sensitive renovation together to breathe life back into our urban environments.
And more people are choosing to live in the heart of our older cities as a result. While neither Bristol nor Birmingham for example have seen any growth in their overall populations since 1991, their city centre populations have, in contrast, grown by 10% and 39%.9
When Shoebury Garrison closed, it offered a major opportunity for regeneration in an area of deprivation as its assets included a significant number of listed buildings, a conservation area, a nature reserve and a magnificent coastal setting. However, many of its historic buildings and its sea defences had fallen into decay.
The barracks and buildings of Shoebury Garrison were developed from the 1850s and the site still played an important defensive role in both World Wars. The historic barracks were built in a horseshoe shape around a parade ground and are an excellent example of the efforts made to reform and improve barrack design during the 19th century.
Repair and re-use of the Garrison’s historic buildings was a major element of a planning brief which, following public consultation was prepared jointly by the MoD and Southend Borough Council. The brief was the basis for the site’s disposal in 2000 to Gladedale Homes and required a mixed development of housing, employment, leisure and community uses; a substantial public park, nature reserve and other open spaces; a heritage centre and cycle routes.
Outline planning permission was granted in 2002, and most of the historic buildings on the site have now undergone high quality refurbishment and been brought back into residential use. Sympathetic contemporary new housing by several architects, including Hawkins Brown, has also been built while the original openness of the parade ground and the Garrison’s cricket pitch has been restored. The completed work has successfully created a mixed and highly distinctive neighbourhood, with the sensitive insertion of new development to complement the existing historic character of the site.
Although much has been achieved in recent years, both in terms of public engagement with the historic environment and recognition of its significant contribution to quality of place, it would be true to say that challenges remain.
Loss and Decay of Heritage Assets. The continuing prevalence of heritage at risk of decay or loss, whether in the form of buildings, monuments, sites or landscapes, is an ongoing cause of concern. We have had success in addressing this issue, with 48% of buildings on English Heritage’s 1999 baseline buildings at risk register now secured for the future. However there is evidence to suggest that those which remain on the list are the most challenging to adapt for new use and will require substantial investment. Much hidden archaeology within landscapes and under the sea also remains at risk from intensive farming or fishing practices and from the effects of climate change.
Maximising the potential of the historic environment in new development. The contribution of heritage to quality places is still challenged by some. In recent audits of new private sector housing, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) noted that too many new developments still missed opportunities to take advantage of existing heritage, with the result that they had a ‘could be anywhere’ quality about them.10 And while there is much evidence to show that working with locally distinctive heritage can create schemes that are popular and sell well, there are still some developments where the debate between maintaining existing buildings or creating new ones remains contentious.
Ensuring flexibility of the historic environment to meet new challenges. New and emerging policy concerns also require fresh thinking. Housing pressure in the South East and demographic changes including an aging population will require built environments that are designed and managed to meet a variety of needs. There is an ongoing challenge in seeking to identify and care for our rich legacy of historic homes, schools, hospitals and other civic buildings in a manner which is compatible with contemporary living and the delivery of modern services. In seeking to meet this challenge it will be important to recognise the value of our heritage and try to identify sustainable, self-financing uses for it whilst acknowledging the community needs for a fit for purpose environment.
Training and skills. Significant investment and partnership working supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Heritage Training Group, together with the relevant Sector Skills Councils is doing much to address shortages in some skills areas. However there is still much to be done to ensure a skilled workforce for the future of the historic environment, including encouraging diversity.
Climate Change. Perhaps the biggest long-term challenge we face is that of climate change, with the Climate Change Committee suggesting that in order to meet our long term targets, we will need to virtually eliminate emissions from households and the Household Energy Management Strategy, published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Department for Communities and Local Government making it clear that the scale of the challenge will require action across the board. The historic environment can be part of the solution we seek, but too often it is still believed to be at the heart of the problem of energy consumption. The real relationship is a complex one, and more research is needed to explore how people operate within buildings, historic and otherwise, and to understand their actual energy performance. There is a need for more sophisticated tools for measuring energy use in traditional buildings and for assessing the true value of adaptive changes, and in some cases a need to create more suitable alternatives. At the same time we must consider how best to mitigate the impact of already occurring climate change on the historic environment. Often this will involve trying to find solutions that both mitigate and adapt to climate change that keep the integrity of the historic environment intact. There will be hard decisions to make in the future, for example in defining the point at which conservation is unfeasible in areas subject to coastal erosion, and in considering how best to ensure all homes and buildings across the UK play their part in cutting demand for energy and reducing carbon emissions.
Economic Downturn. Current economic conditions offer both challenges and opportunities. A tight financial environment can affect the flow of funding and difficult conditions may mean that owners are less well placed to invest in the appropriate care and maintenance of their properties. But the need to restrict expenditure may also provide an incentive to consider adapting and improving what we have instead of assuming that a new build approach is the best option.
The Vision: That the value of the historic environment is recognised by all who have the power to shape it; that Government gives it proper recognition and that it is managed intelligently and in a way that fully realises its contribution to the economic, social and cultural life of the nation.
As we have seen, progress has been made in achieving our vision, but challenges remain. This final chapter sets out the Government’s strategy for building on past success in order to meet our shared goal.
As set out at the start of this statement, our analysis of the challenges and opportunities we face has led to six broad strategic aims that we have set ourselves for the future.
1. Strategic Leadership:
Ensure that relevant policy, guidance, and standards across Government emphasize our responsibility to manage England’s heritage for present and future generations.
Committed and consistent leadership at all levels of Government is essential if we are to realise the full potential of the historic environment.
We are committed to raising the profile of our heritage. Government leadership on the historic environment must be stronger and more consistent at national, regional and local levels. Elected leaders and public sector decision makers do not always take the effect of their decision-making on the historic environment into account or appreciate its role in securing wider positive outcomes. Public sector performance regimes could do more to encourage investment in the historic environment.
To this end, we will encourage policy and decision makers at every level of Government to consider how the historic environment might assist them in meeting their aims and objectives, and to explore the benefits it can bring. We recognise the competing priorities that leaders face but we ask them to seek creative uses for their heritage assets and to take active steps to resolve any conflicts which arise between their responsibility to our heritage and other goals.
2. Protective Framework:
Ensure that all heritage assets are afforded an appropriate and effective level of protection, while allowing, where appropriate, for well managed and intelligent change.
The UK has one of the most effective heritage protection frameworks in the world, but there is a need to make it work more efficiently and transparently. Since the publication of “A Force for Our Future”, the Government’s 2001 statement on the historic environment, a consensus has grown that the protection and management of heritage assets can be carried out in a way that is clearer, simpler and more closely aligned with mainstream environmental management regimes such as planning.
In close partnership with English Heritage, the Government’s process of Heritage Protection Reform (HPR) is modernising the way central and local government, English Heritage and other partners, most importantly owners, protect and conserve our historic environment. We have developed new ways of working together in order to manage heritage assets, and we are seeking to create greater clarity about what is seen as important and why, and more transparency in the decision-making process. Some elements of reform require primary legislation and we have prepared draft legislation which has been subject to Parliamentary scrutiny. Government remains committed to implementing the necessary legislation.
Our new draft Planning Policy Statement (PPS) for the historic environment and its associated guidance, which will replace the current Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) 15 and 16, will give greater clarity to all involved. We have published a Planning Circular to provide updated policy guidance on the level of protection and management required for World Heritage Sites. In addition the marine planning system introduced under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) will clarifies the Government’s objectives for the future management of the marine environment, and direct decision-makers and users towards more efficient, and sustainable use of our marine resources, including the marine historic environment. The Marine Policy Statement will provide guidance to decision makers and we expect the Government’s vision and key principles for the historic environment to be reflected in this document.
The Government is committed to implementing the European Landscape Convention (ELC) and wishes to embed ELC requirements further within UK policy and practice. A fundamental principle of the ELC is that an understanding of landscapes everywhere should help guide and frame spatial planning and land management
It is important that as we develop new policies, guidance and procedures they afford heritage assets an appropriate and effective level of protection.
3. Local Capacity:
Encourage structures, skills and systems at a local level which: promote an early understanding of heritage in the context of development; ensure that local decision makers have access to the expertise they need; and provide sufficiently skilled people to execute proposed changes sensitively and sympathetically.
Many of the decisions that affect the historic environment are made at a local level, and more could be done to ensure that local authorities have the structure, skills and systems in place to encourage an understanding of local heritage in the context of development and to make sure that local decision makers have the support they need. In particular, there is enormous advantage to all concerned in ensuring that changes affecting the historic environment are recognised and addressed early in the planning process. However in too many cases the impact on heritage assets is only considered at the last minute, when adjustments are more challenging and expensive to make. New planning policy will encourage early consideration of heritage, but local authorities need to implement structures which make this happen, the right systems and processes, and staff with appropriate skills who are fully integrated into the development management system.
Through World Class Places Government has said that we will work with English Heritage, CABE, the HCA and others to strengthen support for local authorities in place-making.
4. Public Involvement:
Promote opportunities to place people and communities at the centre of the designation and management of their local historic environment and to make use of heritage as a focus for learning and community identity at all levels.
Good stewardship of our heritage is a responsibility we all share. We all have a duty to hand on the cultural legacy we have inherited to future generations in good order and to ensure that it is better understood and valued.
In order to achieve this we want to provide the public with a much stronger sense of ownership in the historic environment. We believe this will help people to take an increased pride in their local area and will help us to achieve many other government aims in terms of strengthening local communities.
In order to make it easier for owners to understand the unique features of the heritage in their care English Heritage will update their databases of designated assets, making older entries more comprehensive and descriptive where appropriate and easier to use. This additional information will enable owners, advisors, and decision makers alike to manage the balance between protection and change. Supplementing and supporting this work will be the new Principles of Selection which will set out in detail the criteria we will use in making decisions regarding new designations, providing increased transparency for all involved.
At the same time we are working with English Heritage to review how best to focus its resources to increase public engagement with heritage protection through a more strategic approach to its research and designation activities.
5. Direct Ownership:
Ensure all heritage assets in public ownership meet appropriate standards of care and use while allowing, where appropriate, for well managed and intelligent change.
Government has a strong track record in looking after its own estate. The Government Historic Estates Unit (GHEU) at English Heritage is an invaluable source of advice and an important external check on the state of conservation and care, but as owners of a significant portfolio of heritage assets Government needs to send a clear message even in the current economic climate that our heritage remains a priority and that wise investment and early intervention will save costs over the longer term.
By adopting the GHEU’s recently re-issued “Protocol for the Care of the Government Historic Estate”, Government should seek to set an example for other owners in meeting appropriate standards of care and use for its heritage assets.
In some cases this may require a careful balancing of priorities. We understand the need to ensure that our estate is fit for the purposes required of it, and recognise that well managed and intelligent change may be required. If a site cannot be adapted to fit its original or a new Government purpose, we will follow Government guidance on the disposal of heritage assets.
6. Sustainable Future:
Seek to promote the role of the historic environment within the Government’s response to climate change and as part of its sustainable development agenda.
The Climate Change Act 2008 established the independent Committee on Climate Change and introduced legally binding carbon budgets. The Act commits the UK Government to achieving an 80% reduction on 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2050. An interim target of a 34% cut by 2020 has also been agreed. The Act additionally provides a statutory framework to adapt to the impacts of climate change by introducing the requirement for a UK Climate Change Risk Assessment and statutory national programme for England. It set up the Adaptation Sub-Committee to the Committee on Climate Change and introduced an Adaptation reporting power, enabling Government to require public authorities to report on adaptation.
In setting the strategic framework for action, it is the role of Government to strike a balance between acknowledging our responsibility to the unique and finite resource that our heritage represents and the need to adapt to the changing world around us. Climate change presents its own challenges for the historic environment, both in terms of reducing carbon emissions and in adapting to changes in climate that are already taking place.
In both of these areas the Government intends to lead by example: each Government Departments is required to produce an adaptation strategy and a plan for staying within the allocated ‘Carbon Budget’ for its estate and any share it has in the budgets for certain economic sectors. These include transport; homes and communities; business and the workplace; power and heavy industry; farming and land use; waste; and public sector estates and operations. Government will work with English Heritage and others in producing these plans.
Many managers of heritage assets are already informing our efforts and supporting environmental sustainability through their own research, by making appropriate adaptive changes and by encouraging the promotion of less carbon intensive forms of transport to specific sites, amongst other initiatives. Government, working with English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other partners will work to further understand the existing evidence base, promote approaches to emission reduction that are sensitive to the historic environment and develop adaptation responses which seek to ensure that the historic environment can adapt effectively.
Ultimately there is no doubt that climate change will be a key driver of future change, but the overall quality, diversity and distinctiveness of our historic environment needs to be recognised as it evolves and responds to new pressures.
Folly Farm, Stowey, Somerset-Refurbishment
and New Build Environmental Impact
The Avon Wildlife Trust has transformed an 18th century Somerset farm into a residential education centre in a way that makes it a leading example of sustainable development and conservation.
HLF awarded a grant of £2.5m to repair and convert the derelict farmhouse, barn and dairy buildings for visitor facilities as well as to restore the historic landscape. The finished centre offers a range of classroom and conference facilities.
In the repair and conversion of the existing farm buildings, reducing operational energy use has been balanced with a need to protect their historic interest. The thermal performance of the existing buildings has been improved by using sheepswool insulation in the roof spaces and under the flagstone floors. Low energy lighting and only essential electrical equipment has been installed. Heating is provided by a biomass boiler fired by wood pellets and solar hot water panels.
As a conservation project, many of the building materials which have been used – such as lime mortars – have naturally low embodied energy. The Trust has also sought to buy as locally as possible. The centre’s two new “eco-buildings” – designed not to need conventional heating systems or artificial lighting during the day – have been constructed with commercially produced rammed earth blocks and sedum roofs. Naturally bound bio-paints were used for internal and external decorating. These paints allow buildings to breathe and were chosen as an experimental alternative to lime wash and commercial trade paints.
DCMS would like to thank English Heritage for access to their images.
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