Thanks to the generous support of these sponsors, World Heritage UK is able to keep the costs of delegate’s attendance affordable at its latest conference ‘Setting the Scene for World Heritage’, at the Tower of London, 15th and 16th October 2018. This is the 4th annual conference of the charity organisation and it promises to be the most compelling yet, not just for the prestigious venue in the city of London but also for the controversial nature of its subject matter. Development in and around World Heritage Sites is often in the news and here will be discussed such topical places as Stonehenge and its road issues, plans affecting the sites in Liverpool and London with tall buildings and other factors, plus many more examples from around the UK and its Overseas Territories. The event is already attracting international interest so best secure your tickets soon to avoid disappointment. You can register for the conference here
Welcome to World Heritage, Joe Perry! The Peatlands Partnership has just appointed Joe as their World Heritage Site Officer to take forward the idea of The Flow Country in Sutherland and Caithness becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS).
Joe is moving to the Highlands from Glasgow where he been working as a Project Manager for an environmental tour and experiences company that aims to connect young people in Scotland with our natural and cultural heritage. In addition to an honours degree in history, he has an MSc in Environment, Heritage and Policy.
The Flow Country is an area of deep peat, dotted with bog pools, that blankets much of Caithness and Sutherland. The Flow Country is the largest expanse of blanket bog in Europe and covers about 200,000 hectares. A recent academic study has described The Flow Country as being “the best peatland of its type in the world”. The idea that the Flow Country could be inscribed as a World Heritage Site has been investigated by The Peatlands Partnership for some time and the area has been on the UK’s Tentative List of WHS since 1999. A World Heritage Site Working Group was set up by the Partnership in 2017 this short-life working group is independently chaired by Mrs Frances Gunn of The Highland 3rd Sector Alliance and will have a fixed purpose to develop and submit a Technical Evaluation to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by the summer of 2019.
A Technical Evaluation is essentially a scaled-down version of a ‘nomination’ (application) to UNESCO and is assessed by an independent panel. Whilst it is the Peatlands Partnership’s aspiration that The Flow Country becomes inscribed as a World Heritage Site, it is DCMS which will decide whether the case is sufficiently robust to nominate the site to UNESCO.
A considerable amount of work is required to complete the process and Joe Perry has been appointed to assist the Working Group in delivering this.
The Working Group has to carry out three main tasks which will take up to 18 months to complete:
- Develop a boundary for the proposed WHS in consultation with a wide range of community and other interests.
- Carry out an extensive community consultation covering all aspects of what a WHS could mean to local communities.
- Complete all the reports and information required to support the Technical Evaluation and submit this to DCMS in the summer of 2019.
Chair of the Working Group, Frances Gunn, said “In the past we have relied solely on a number of partners fitting this work in alongside all their other duties and so it’s a great step forward to have a Project Officer in post who can dedicate all their time to taking the World Heritage Site proposals forward, especially an all-important community consultation across Sutherland and Caithness.”
Frances added “I am particularly grateful to Highland Council who will act as host employer for Joe and I’m also delighted that we have funded this post from both the public and private sectors. The post is generously supported by Wildland Limited, RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and The Highland Council.”
Nicole Wallace, Highland Council’s Environment Manager pointed out “Highland Council is happy to help the Peatlands Partnership take the proposals for UNESCO World Heritage Site status forward and I look forward to Joe starting work on this exciting project next month.”
“We shouldn’t let the fact that the Flow Country has been identified as the best peatland of its type in the world pass us by. A Flow Country World Heritage Site would not only be an enormous accolade for the area and the many organisations, land managers, crofters and farmers who have maintained this area for generations but it would also bring many positive development opportunities and undoubtedly some challenges too.”
The Peatlands Partnership
The Peatlands Partnership includes: Scottish Natural Heritage, Highland Council, Forestry Commission (Scotland), RSPB Scotland, Plantlife Scotland, The Environmental Research Institute, Northern Deer Management Group, Flow Country Rivers Trust, The Highland Third Sector Interface and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. It also liaises with local community groups, the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate and the North Sutherland Community Forest Trust.
The Partnerships is chaired by Professor Stuart Gibb of the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso and Highland Council’s representative on the Partnership is Nicole Wallace, Head of Environment.
Joe Perry Project Coordinator, Flow Country World Heritage Site Working Group
Brigid Primrose Secretary: The Flow Country World Heritage Site Working Group,
c/o Scottish Natural Heritage, Great Glen House, Inverness.
Ian Mitchell Secretary: The Peatlands Partnership,
c/o Scottish Natural Heritage, The Links, Golspie.
0300 067 3110
Hi, my name is Valentina Sabucco, a post-graduate student from Newcastle University on a placement at the Durham Cathedral UNESCO World Heritage Site.
World Heritage UK is currently preparing a bid to apply for a Heritage Lottery Fund Resilient Heritage grant and I am helping to organise a survey for your input to help guide the application. Will you help me?
World Heritage UK aims to become a more sustainable and resilient organisation, improving our professional skills and offering the chance for everyone who is interested and passionate about heritage to bring his/her contribution to the organisation.
For this purpose, the following questionnaire has been designed to help our organisation identify its strengths and reveal areas for improvement. The survey usually takes only two minutes to be completed.
We would really appreciate everyone’s participation as we do value your feedback and we would like to build on your comments towards the next steps towards a more resilient future.
The link to the short questionnaire is: HERE
World Heritage UK is pleased to announce that registration is now open for its 4th Annual Conference, ‘Setting the Scene for World Heritage’, taking place at the Tower of London UNESCO World Heritage Site on the 15th and 16th October 2018. Please note the change of date from previous announcements, made to accommodate the very best available facilities at this prestigious venue.
The link to the registration webpage is https://www.eventbrite.com/e/setting-the-scene-for-world-heritage-tickets-46877370477?
UNESCO World Heritage Sites are the historic wonders of the world and the jewels in the crown of any nation. The United Kingdom is blessed with 31 of them and each year World Heritage UK celebrates these gems with a conference. The theme for this year’s event will be ‘Setting the Scene for World Heritage’.
Many of our World Heritage Sites are facing management issues, not only from within their boundaries, but from external pressures beyond, which can be hard to control. Here, delegates will look at the setting in which a World Heritage Site exists, issues with buffer zones and examining how best to deal with Outstanding Universal Value in the margins.
We will be looking in detail at controversial urban examples from Liverpool, Edinburgh and London, but will also examine contentious cultural landscapes such as Stonehenge, natural World Heritage Sites and those with issues on the coast.
The Minister for the Arts, Heritage and Tourism, Michael Ellis MP, has accepted our invitation to speak at the conference and he will be joined by Colonel Richard Harrold, Director of the Tower Group, Simon Hickman from Historic England, urban designer Pete Swift from Planit IE and Rob Burns from Urban Design and Heritage as confirmed speakers so far.
The conference will be delivered in association with Historic Royal Palaces and with support from Historic England and Border Archaeology. We expect to continue the success of previous years with an exciting programme of speakers and side events – perhaps an evening boat trip on the River Thames and behind-the-scenes tour at the Tower of London. More detail on these to follow.
There are only 150 tickets available for this conference, including a small allocation at a reduced rate for students and Voting Members of World Heritage UK. You are advised to book early to avoid disappointment.
It’s all smiles at the Ministry this morning as World Heritage UK President, Chris Blandford, and Chair, Tony Crouch, meet with Michael Ellis, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
All good on the day World Heritage UK publicly announces that it will undertake the first review of all 31 of the UK’s World Heritage Sites.
This will be the first time that a comprehensive picture of how the UK’s World Heritage Sites are protected and managed has ever been undertaken. The review is being led by WHUK’s President, a leading international heritage expert. The review will focus on key management problems and issues at the sites, which range from Stonehenge and the Giants Causeway, to Edinburgh New Town and Liverpool’s city centre. It will investigate new options for sustainable management of sites, for public and private sector partnerships, and for improving benefits for local economies, stakeholders and investors.
The process has already started, with in-depth interviews with site managers and stakeholders across the country. Visits have been made to 19 of the 27 ‘onshore’ sites so far, with the other remaining sites scheduled over the next few months.
Sponsorship for the review has been secured from: Historic England; CADW, Wales; Historic Environment Scotland; Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, and others.
It is anticipated that the final report will be completed in late autumn 2018, for sharing with the sites, government and other partners.
Chris Blandford, World Heritage UK President, said: ‘Collectively Britain’s World Heritage sites are the crown jewels of our national heritage and we need to look after them much better than we currently do. Before we can start to advise government, UNESCO and others on future management we need to find out exactly where the problems are and what the solutions might be. This is what the review aims to do’
Tony Crouch, World Heritage UK Chairman, said: ’We are delighted that Chris is bringing his immense practical knowledge and skill to this task, which we see as central to our job in advising and encouraging government and site managers to take our World Heritage responsibilities seriously. We know that some sites are very well managed, but others are more problematic and may lack all the resources needed for quality management’
Professor Ian Wray, World Heritage UK Vice Chairman, said: ‘The UK’s World Heritage sites are central to Britain’s island story and, since Britain had such an important role in international events, to world history and heritage. They are the sleeping giants of our national heritage and of our national ‘soft power’ and cultural tourism’.
WORLD HERITAGE UK’S RESPONSE TO DRAFT REVISED NATIONAL PLANNING FRAMEWORK FOR ENGLAND
The Government’s planning policies for England are set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The Government has recently announced its intention to revise the Framework and has consulted on a draft revision. World Heritage UK (WH:UK) responded to the consultation.
As a State Party to the World Heritage Convention, the United Kingdom is required to protect, preserve, present and transmit to future generations its World Heritage Sites. It does this primarily through its planning systems. In the last 18 months, WH:UK has been working to suggest how the UK’s planning systems could be improved further to meet these responsibilities. It based its response to the Draft Revised National Planning Policy Framework largely on this work.
In its response, WH:UK pointed out that England’s World Heritage Sites include a wide range of historic monuments and past industry, landscapes, townscapes, and natural and ecological features. Therefore they will be affected by many of the policies in the NPPF. They cannot be treated as a single homogenous entity.
The full text of WH:UK’s response can be found under Correspondence and Consultations on its website Response to draft NPPF May 18 – resubmission final.
The key points in WH:UK’s response are:
- Recognition. WH:UK welcomes the recognition given to the protection of World Heritage Sites in various places in the Draft Revised NPPF. It urges that, in due course, such protection should be enshrined in primary legislation.
- Development Plans. WHUK strongly disagrees with the proposed changes to the nature of the “development plan”. The Draft Revised NPPF states that, while local planning authorities will be obliged to produce a plan that addresses the strategic priorities for their area, there would be no obligation on them to produce more detailed policies in a Local Plan. However Local Plans contain the very policies that currently protect, preserve and help present World Heritage Sites. They cover issues such as good design, the type of development that is or is not acceptable at or adjacent to World Heritage Sites, the protection of Sites’ settings and/ro buffer zones and the promotion of conservation. It cannot be assumed that local authorities will voluntarily produce local plans. If they do not, this would severely weaken the effectiveness of the planning system in helping to deliver the State Party’s obligations on World Heritage Sites.
- Pre-application engagement. WH:UK welcomes the continuing support for pre-application engagement. It has encouraged its members to be more actively involved in decision-making processes and recognises the value of early dialogue.
- Economic value of World Heritage Sites. WH:UK suggested that the NPPF should recognise the economic value of World Heritage Sites both locally and nationally.
- Good design. WH:UK strongly supports the encouragement of good design. It does not agree that it would be acceptable for increased densities to overrule local character and history, including the surrounding built environment and landscape setting. Such an approach could threaten the Outstanding Universal Value of a World Heritage Site or its setting and/or buffer zone, all as interpreted by policies in the respective local plan or plans.
- Green Belt. Similarly, while WH:UK understands the need to make best use of urban land and to protect the Green Belt, it is important to appreciate that this policy approach can threaten the Outstanding Universal Value and/or setting/buffer zone of some World Heritage Sites by increasing development pressures within urban areas. This is a question of priorities, which the Revised Draft NPPF does not resolve. Instead it states that development in Green Belts may be approved in “very special circumstances” while “Substantial harm or loss of …World Heritage Sites should be wholly exceptional.” WH:UK believes that, given their worldwide importance, World Heritage Sites should take precedence over Green Belts, and therefore there may be circumstances where it would be appropriate to review Green Belt boundaries to relieve development pressures at or adjacent to World Heritage Sites.
- Natural World Heritage Sites. WH:UK is seriously disappointed that the chapter on conserving and enhancing the natural environment does not recognise or set out policies for England’s natural World Heritage Site (the Dorset and East Devon Coast) or any such sites that may be inscribed in the future. The existence of such sites is recognised only in a footnote in the chapter on conserving and enhancing the historic environment, and then no indication is given as to whether the policies applicable to World Heritage Sites in that chapter apply to natural sites. Nevertheless, WH:UK warmly welcomes the new reference in the first paragraph of that chapter to World Heritage Sites, which provides a clear signal in respect of the Sites’ importance.
- Heritage Impact Assessments. WH:UK strongly encourages the use of Heritage Impact Assessments to help local planning authorities determine development proposals, and considers these should be mentioned in the NPPF.
- Development within World Heritage Sites. WH:UK supports of the proposed retention of the requirement on local authorities to “look for opportunities for new development within World Heritage Sites…to enhance or better reveal their significance;” while recognizing that not all elements of a World Heritage Site will necessarily contribute to its significance.
- Minerals development. World Heritage UK welcomes the continued protection of World Heritage Sites through the provision of landbanks of non-energy minerals from outside these areas as far as is practical. However that protection should also be applied to areas that form part of the setting and /or the buffer zone of Sites, as interpreted by policies in the respective local plan or plans. Also the text addressing the issues on oil, gas and coal exploration and extraction is very weak in relation to heritage issues. In this respect, WH:UK advocates a similar approach as for non-energy minerals.
Author credit: Donald Gobbett, World Heritage UK Board Member
Blenheim Palace will be alive to the thunder of hooves and the clash of lances on shields as it hosts the Knights of Royal England’s Jousting Tournament from May 5th-7th. Visitors will be transported back in time to a medieval tournament; complete with authentic tilt yard, royal box, falconry, archery and hand to hand combat.
Recreating the glorious jousting matches of Britain’s past, knights in shining armour will take to the field on their noble steeds in a momentous display of bravery and skill beneath the spectacular backdrop of Blenheim Palace. Knights and horses will be costumed with chainmail and steel armour for the period 1200-1250. The knights will be using 14-foot-long lances and riding at full gallop. There will be approximately 15 participants all dressed to assume their part in this authentic and thrilling re-creation of the Tournament.
The weekend will be packed with historic action and family friendly entertainment, from thrilling falconry displays to ‘have-a-go’ archery. For the younger children there will be baby dragons to meet and the chance to join the Dragon Procession. Hatched from a small dragon sanctuary in the Welsh Marshes, these delightful creatures are very friendly and well mannered, although a dragon is never entirely predictable… Families can enjoy food, refreshments and tournament treats on the South Lawn along with a medieval stand with lots of historically themed goodies.
The Blenheim Estate is no stranger to genuine jousting tournaments. In 1389 John, Earl of Pembroke, was killed in a jousting accident while a Christmas guest at the old Woodstock royal palace.
WHAT: Spring Jousting Tournament at the Blenheim Palace UNESCO World Heritage Site
WHEN: May 5th-7th
WHY VISIT: Knights on horseback, battles, falconry displays, dragons, archery and much more!
ADMISSION: Park & Gardens ticket required: Adult £16.00, Child £7.40, Family (2 Adults & 2 Children) £43.00
The Peatlands Partnership and the Flow Country proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site Steering Group wish to appoint a Project Coordinator to take forward the Technical Evaluation for submission to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in 2019. The post has been advertised by Highland Council on My JobScotland where you can find more details at https://www.myjobscotland.gov.uk/councils/highland-council/jobs/world-heritage-project-co-ordinator-114206 .
Every April the City of Bath World Heritage Site celebrates its unique heritage and the reasons for the city’s World Heritage Site status with a free community event. Bath World Heritage Day takes place on Sunday 22 April from 11am-3pm on the lawn in front of the iconic Royal Crescent. The star attraction will be the expert Roman re-enactment group, The Ermine Street Guard, who will be setting up a Roman camp for visitors to explore and demonstrating Roman military tactics. As well as watching the action, visitors can chat to the Roman soldiers and investigate how Romans lived through original objects from the city’s Roman Baths collection.
Along with celebrating Bath’s Roman past there will be the opportunity to find out more about the city’s Georgian heritage. The Mayor of Bath’s Honorary Guides will be leading free walks around the Upper Town and shorter guided strolls along the Royal Crescent. The National Trust will be celebrating 25 years of looking after Ralph Allen’s landscape garden at Prior Park. Volunteers from the Herschel Museum of Astronomy will have solar telescopes to allow visitors to safely view the sun. There will also be the chance to do fun space-themed activities and dress up at the famous Georgian astronomers, William and Caroline Herschel. No. 1 Royal Crescent is offering free admission to Bath and North East Somerset Discovery Card holders on the day, with the opportunity to meet costumed characters and handle 18th Century objects. To appreciate one of Bath’s Georgian gems, visitors are invited to view Bath’s Assembly Rooms, which opened in 1771 to offer entertainment for fashionable visitors to the spa city. The rooms will be open free of charge from 10.30am-5pm.
Bath World Heritage Day is a great opportunity to find out the latest news from major heritage projects in the city. Teams from Bath Abbey Footprint, the Cleveland Pools Trust and Minerva’s Owls of Bath will be at the event to demonstrate their initiatives. The exciting plans to open Bath’s first World Heritage Centre and extended learning facilities for the Roman Baths through the Lottery-funded Archway Project will be on display.
Elsewhere in the city there will be an event at Sydney Gardens from 2-5pm to find out more about another of Bath’s Heritage Lottery Fund projects to improve and development the 18th Century Pleasure Gardens. There will be lots for visitors of all ages to see and do.
For further information visit www.bathworldheritage.org.uk/events where you can download the World Heritage Day leaflet and the Sydney Gardens Community Day flyer.
Liverpool’s World Heritage Site has been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites ‘in danger’ since 2012. UNESCO’s primary concern has centred on the tall buildings in the ‘Liverpool Waters’ development proposal, put forward by Peel Holdings, which was given outline planning permission in 2012. The perceived negative impact of these proposed tall buildings was on long distance views of the Liverpool skyline from the other bank of the Mersey. Of particular concern, it appears, were the tall buildings proposed for the former Clarence Dock site, which is within the World Heritage Site buffer zone.
World Heritage UK, the body representing all 31 UK World Heritage Sites, is aware that in response to UNESCO’s concerns, Liverpool City Council and Peel Holdings have together recently taken three positive initiatives to minimise the risk of Liverpool losing World Heritage Status and to ultimately take it off the ‘endangered’ list. These include a new high level task force to raise the profile of the World Heritage Site and address the concerns raised by UNESCO; a ‘Desired State of Conservation Report’ to set out their view of the city’s World Heritage status as it stands; and a review of the master plan for the Liverpool Waters area, where in fact no new development has actually taken place since outline permission was granted in 2012.
From its national perspective, World Heritage UK warmly welcomes all these initiatives and believes that they signal a genuine change of mood in Liverpool. On behalf of all of the UK’s World Heritage Sites, we ask UNESCO to open a process of constructive dialogue with the UK Government and Liverpool’s stakeholders, in the hope that this will lead to a change in the position they have previously taken on Liverpool’s World Heritage Site. We further hope that, as the ‘State Party’, the Government will fully engage with the process, thus enabling then to fulfil their international obligations and responsibilities under the World Heritage Convention for the protection and enhancement of the outstanding universal value of all the UK’s World Heritage Sites, not least Liverpool.
As Liverpool’s ‘Desired State of Conservation Report’ notes, there has been spectacular progress in restoring Liverpool’s historic buildings, in the World Heritage Site and beyond. The number of heritage ‘buildings at risk’ has been reduced to only 2.75% of the building stock – far below the UK national average. The restoration of the once derelict Stanley Dock for a new hotel and residential accommodation is a shining example of achievement and work in progress.
World Heritage UK has been briefed on the initial work on Peel’s revised masterplan for Liverpool Waters.
Chris Blandford, World Heritage UK President, said: ‘Whilst the revised plan is still at an early stage, we believe that it has the potential to deliver a far more coherent, sensitive and appropriate development form, one which better respects the Site’s outstanding universal value, and is better integrated with Stanley Dock and the adjacent Ten Streets regeneration area’.
Sam Rose, World Heritage UK Chair, said: ‘Cities grow and change, as they always have done, and there will always be conflicts and tensions in the protection of the outstanding universal value of urban World Heritage Sites. We see no situation that is not resolvable with early and constructive dialogue, and we encourage that now in the case of Liverpool. It would be a big loss for the outstanding heritage of the UK, and for the people and businesses of Liverpool if this iconic city was to lose its deserved global status’.
The UK has six World Heritage Sites that fall into the ‘cities’ theme, the largest and most complex three being Bath, Edinburgh and Liverpool.