World Heritage UK in China

News, World Heritage Sites

In March 2017, WH:UK Vice-Chair Tony Crouch was invited on a ‘high-level’ British Council delegation to China. Here is his report.

The rapid urbanisation of China and the sheer size of the country marks it as one of the most fascinating societies in the world today. In the past 40 years, the number of people who have migrated from the Chinese countryside to cities is twice the population of the USA. Global recognition of China’s cultural heritage has seen a similar growth and after ratifying the World Heritage Convention in late 1985, China now has 50 inscribed sites and is hot on the heels of world leader Italy with 51.

The purpose of our week-long visit was to encourage cultural heritage collaboration between the UK and China. This was inspired by China’s 13th Five Year Plan which includes cultural heritage protection as a priority and at the same time in the UK the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are encouraging the heritage sector to explore international opportunities to showcase our world class heritage protection expertise. My colleagues on the delegation were Alexandra Warr (Senior Advisor, Historic England), Debbie Dance (Director, Oxford Preservation Trust), Alison Richmond (Chief Executive, Institute of Conservation) and Humphrey Welfare (Chairman, Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site Partnership Board and Trustee of the Churches Conservation Trust). We were expertly organised by the super-efficient Katherine Peringer from the British Council.

It’s a twelve hour flight from London to Beijing. Having taken-off at 4:30pm, by midnight UK time the eastern sunrise was already appearing through the aeroplane windows, so we effectively skipped a night and confused the body–clock. Landing in Beijing, the long, cold, dry winter had turned any grass a parched sandy-brown colour and cars and building windows were covered in a film of dust reminiscent of high-pressure English summer weather conditions. The city traffic was heavy and the air was thick.

Our first visit was to the Forbidden City, the imperial palace off Tiananmen Square, in use from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty (1420-1912). 16 million annual visitors now make this the world’s most visited museum. (The British Museum, ranked 3rd, has 6.8m). These visitor numbers for the Forbidden City have jumped from 7.5m in 2015 and demonstrate the astronomical rise in Chinese domestic tourism. We visited at the end of the day and had the privilege to take crowd free photographs, but if there is one area where our Chinese colleagues undoubtedly have greater experience it is in dealing with huge visitor numbers. Access to all areas in the Forbidden City seems good, so it will be an on-going challenge for managers to prevent erosion of surfaces and other issues associated with such immense footfall.

The Forbidden City, Beijing. A rare tourist free photo of what is now the most visited museum in the world.

The following day, our second visit was a 1 hour 20 minute drive north-west out of the city to the Great Wall at Badaling Pass. This is the most popular section of the 13,170.69 mile (21,196.18 km) long wall to visit. The wall was constructed over a 2,000 year period, with the Badaling section constructed circa 1505 (Ming dynasty).   The wall divided the Chinese farmers to the south from the raiding nomadic Mongols of the north. The invention of firearms later decisively tipped the balance in favour of the defending Chinese.

We met the director of the Badaling Wall in a room which had previously received over 500 state leaders. Since this 3km section of wall was opened to the public in 1958, a 30 year conservation and restoration period ensued, funded by central and local government. Over 200 million people have since visited this section and un-surprisingly conservation and administration are now wholly supported by admission fees (40 RMB = £4.69 per adult). Pre-1990’s 30% of visitors were from overseas, but that number has since fallen to 10% with overall numbers rocketing to 8 million a year now. As of 3 years ago, ticketing measures cap maximum numbers on the 10-20 days per year when numbers can reach 100,000 per day. Modern facilities here have been sensitively located, with the large car and coach parks discreetly positioned. There are gift shops and cafes, but fewer than expected as under Chinese government regulations the museums are not permitted to financially profit from these. Visitors are encouraged to these managed sections, with ‘wild’ stretches of the wall closed to the public and trespass is illegal because of the safety risks to visitor and the uncontrolled impact upon the monument.

13m RMB has recently been invested in a new ‘monitoring centre’ which we were shown. This includes a scale model of the wall and a bank of monitors from the 296 cameras which cover the 3km section. Cameras are prevalent in China but in all the conversations I have had with Chinese nationals nobody has expressed this as a problem and they focus on the safety of such surveillance. This was the first of several occasions where we saw a very ‘hi-tech’ approach to monitoring of cultural monuments.

The restored wall at Badaling offers iconic views and is in a good condition. Perhaps of more interest to us as conservation professionals was a visit to an unrestored section, showing a rammed earth bank with a derelict brick lining to it, overgrown by grass. Humphry (as an archaeologist and Hadrian’s Wall expert) was in his element here, spotting construction similarities with the Roman defences.

The iconic view of the Great Wall of China at Badaling Pass

The less well-known image of the wall in a pre-restored state, close to Badaling.

Tuesday was our ‘conference’ day at Peking University. The university has a delightfully landscaped campus of lakes and trees, providing an oasis of calm in the big city with the peace shattered only by the boisterous Azure-winged Magpies. The UK and Chinese experts ran through a series of presentations followed by an in-depth question and answer session. In academic terms, there seemed little to separate the conservation philosophies of the two countries. The archaeologists found much common ground over areas such as re-burying artefacts to aid their preservation. The conservators also found few differences, with the Chinese particularly strong in applying new technology. If there was one thing missing it was discussion over conservation of historic urban areas. I suspect that conservation of ‘ordinary’ historic domestic housing has been a casualty of mass urbanisation, but with a need to house a population of 1.386 billion people China will inevitably have had to make practical choices.

There were also unexpected similarities between our approaches; with for example the use of volunteers in Chinese heritage protection demonstrated as was an increasing level of community involvement. One action which the British Council, Historic England and WH:UK took away was to produce a quick guide to the conservation bodies in the UK and China. The range of government departments and ‘NGO’s’ in the respective countries can be bewildering and mapping these out would be useful. Other messages (opportunities?) of relevance to WH:UK were that China appears to have a conservation skill shortage in areas such as intangible heritage and a real desire to collaborate in training on aspects such as industrial heritage.

On Tuesday evening we attended a reception at the British Embassy in Beijing. It was my first visit inside an overseas embassy and a fascinating insight into how things work. We were warmly welcomed by the Ambassador, Dame Barbara Woodward, who is the first female UK ambassador to China. Amongst the guests present was British Museum Director, Dr Hartwig Fischer, in Beijing to open the touring ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’ exhibition.

On Wednesday we left Beijing to fly (2:15 hours) south-west to the city of Xi’an, in Shaanxi province. This province was the home of many emperors and is rich in cultural relics. Xi’an is again a big city housing 8.76 million and the journey from the airport to the centre passed by many suburbs clustered with new residential tower blocks. Our centrally located hotel was also high-rise, with our rooms on the 24th floor being nowhere near the top.

Modern urban China. A view over central Xi’an, showing the high density urban planning and the ubiquitous residential tower blocks.

East of Xi’an (a 40 minute drive) is the site of the Terracotta Warriors (inscribed in 1987 under the less memorable title ‘Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor ‘). The first remains were found by farmers digging a well in the early 1970’s on non-descript grassland and what they found turned out to be one of the most outstanding archaeological discoveries of the century. Nearly 8,000 full scale models of an army are located in a series of pits, aligned in authentic battle formation and facing east to protect the Emperor’s tomb from attack from that direction. The figures include archers, horses and infantrymen and show a remarkable level of individual detail. They were contained in a pit, covered over with a wooden beamed roof, and then buried. The roof has since collapsed but it served well to protect the archaeology.

The warriors are displayed in situ on a 2km square site covered by several vast aircraft hangar type buildings. I didn’t know what to expect but the initial entry into the building and the sheer size of the collection spread before you is truly breath-taking. There are also many museum cases showing the more intricate pieces and the story of the excavations, so the level of interpretation is high. The income from admission fees has enabled expansion of the site and this is an attraction where the visitor can easily spend half a day or more. The UNESCO symbol is proudly and prominently incorporated into the building in a very innovative way (see the photo at the start of this report).

The warriors are a small part of a much larger network of 190 funerary monuments and objects from these are housed in the Shaanxi Museum. There are two outstanding ‘must see’ collections here. The first is a buried hoard, consisting of a pair of urns, each containing jewellery, coin and decorative items of exquisite craftsmanship. What is of equal interest to the contents is the mystery surrounding the hoard. Hoards are usually buried hurriedly at times of conflict, but here each urn was so carefully packed that curators struggled to re-pack them and the inside of the lids carry a detailed inventory of the contents. The burial was close to the imperial palace and one of the 3 main suspects is the Emperor’s treasurer who unsuccessfully tried to flee the palace during a revolt, was prevented from doing so, unwisely joined the revolt and was executed once the Emperor regained power. Sometime in the middle of this did he find time for some careful packing and digging?

The Agate Cup from the hoard, in the shape of an Ox with a gold mounted mouth.

The second outstanding collection is of wall paintings from the numerous surrounding imperial tombs. Once the underground tombs are opened the process of decay can be rapid and many paintings have been carefully removed (together with the top layer of plaster) and conserved. These provide a remarkable insight into the everyday life of the royal court. They show a highly sophisticated multi-cultural society and differ from western funerary art in that they do not portray death or religious messages connected with it. Instead they show smiling figures happily engaged in every day past-times and a range of wild creatures including the ever-present dragons. Every other wild creature depicted is known to us today apart from the dragon. Why has this mythical creature found such a stronghold in folklore? Was there ever such a creature?!

The Shaanxi cultural heritage and Great Wall) provide much for the Chinese people to take national pride in. In the UK we view much of our ancient history, such as the Roman period, as belonging to that of another culture or invading force. In China there seems to be a more direct ancestral connection between past and present generations, and the affirmation that China has always been a great nation with a strong cultural identity.

We visited the laboratories of the Shaanxi Museum and saw the painstaking conservation work to save the wall paintings. One painting takes a team of four conservators six months to complete. Of credit to the curators (and government) is a decision not to open the Emperor’s tombs themselves. These are believed to contain the most valuable remains including fabrics and possibly parchments, but they are being left sealed until such time as conservation technology advances and provides better preservation methods.

In Xi’an we took part in a second conference and gave (and listened to) our same presentations again. As before there were multiple television cameras present and we had heard that our visit was widely covered on media and social media. Chinese society has widely embraced the smartphone and the whole country appears to communicate (and increasingly pay for goods) through the ‘WeChat’ app!

On Friday, our final (and very different) offer was provided by the Xi’an Daming National Heritage Park. This is, as the name suggests, a city park with a heritage theme. From the air it looks like New York’s Central Park, a vast 3.5 square km open rectangular area surrounded by high rise buildings. It was the site of a former Tang Dynasty imperial palace for 220 years and is one of 33 inscribed sites forming the Spice Road serial World Heritage inscription. None of the archaeology appears to be visible and a huge gate house has been reconstructed, so in this respect the levels of integrity and authenticity are low for an inscribed World Heritage Site. To compensate for this, a wide range of interpretation methods have been employed including an Imax cinema, an open-air scale ‘model-village’ of the site, museum collections, a replica gate house and a World Heritage Centre showing other sites. There is obviously some sensitivity about the clearance of the city settlement that took place to create the park, when a significant number of people were re-housed. The on-site exhibitions contain displays of the shanty-town conditions in which the residents previously lived as part of the justification for the approach.

Daming National Heritage Park must rank as one of the more unusual World Heritage Sites on the list, but as part of the Silk Road and the necessity to tell the whole story of that route it makes sense and can be seen as an essential component of the series.

Even with a packed programme and privileged access, a week in China can of course only scratch the surface. We heard some fascinating presentations, with topics including the challenge of preserving the stunning ethnic rural villages in the face of mass rural de-population. There is so much to be done here and it would appear that professional cooperation between the UK and China may well be a growth industry. Having been schooled in the UK and growing up with world maps showing the UK at the world’s centre, a trip here is an eye-opening education that the East is (an historically has always been) a true world super-power.

My thanks go to the British Council (Karen and Kaci) for their superb organisation and to my colleagues for their excellent company. There will be follow-up work to come, of which this report is a small part. If any WH:UK members wish to contact me to discuss any UK/China opportunities I would be more than happy to discuss this.

Presentations from WH:UK Technical Workshop, Bath, March 8th 2017

Bath 2017, Events, News, Workshop, World Heritage Sites


This meeting was aimed at World Heritage practitioners and took place in Bath Cricket Club, on 8th March 2017, with an evening social meal the night before.  Its focus was on the UK planning systems in respect of World Heritage Sites – seeing if there was a ‘dovetail or disconnect’. The day looked at the different systems, and discussed a very wide range of case studies in terms of impact on World Heritage Sites.  The event also had a couple of workshop sessions to look at issues and solutions – and the intention is that we can use this information to start to develop a position paper for government in respect of World Heritage and the Planning system. This post gives the presentations and other information from the event.

Final programme

The final programme for the event can be found here: Final programme


Please remember that the copyright of presentations and content lies with the authors, so please contact them should you wish to use any material contained therein. 


Overview of the planning system and planning policy:

1 Don Gobbett Planning Overview

2 Hilary Jordan Planning Policy

How decisions on development proposals are made at local level

3 Rebecca McAndrew Blaenavon case study

4 Nick Bishop Lichfields – Cornish mining case study

Looking wider – national policy and working with national bodies

5 Henry Owen-John Heritage Impact Assessment and other stories

6 Jenny Bruce Edinburgh case study


Heading towards solutions:

National case study – National Infrastructure project

7 Sam Rose Navitus Bay case study

Local Case study – SPD development

8 Anna Irwin Pontcysyllte case study

Attendees list

The final participant list is available: Delegate list 8th March 2017


Feedback will follow shortly


Our thanks to Lichfields, Historic England and Bath and NE Somerset Council as meeting sponsors, and to all speakers and participants for coming along and making it such an enjoyable and stimulating event.

World Heritage UK: Chair’s update


Dear friends of World Heritage in the UK

Having successfully got past a dark and dismal January, I thought it a good moment to do a quick update.


Firstly, the Winter 2016 / 2017 World Heritage UK newsletter can be downloaded here. This is a growing publication and my thanks Chris for pulling it together.

Members of WH:UK automatically receive this when it is issued (so apologies to many of you for the cross posting), and have the opportunity to contribute appropriate stories and information… an excellent reason to join up if you haven’t done already.

Bath Technical meeting

March 8th is the date for this year’s technical workshop, with a focus this time on issues around planning and how it is approached in the UK in respect of World Heritage Sites.  We know that this is a huge subject, and we may only scratch the surface at this meeting, but we would like to use this to start to develop a Position Paper to put to Government around the issues that World Heritage Sites face.  Numbers are looking good, but there are still plenty of places so please book up here.  The event is very good value, especially so for members… (another excellent reason to join up).

World Heritage Day 2017

Those of us in the business know that World Heritage is woefully known and understood in the UK, even though many of our Sites are world famous and all are globally important.  World Heritage UK is committed to remedying this, and one simple thing we can all do to try to make more of World Heritage Day, April 18th, to raise profile of the Sites and the concept of World Heritage more generally.  In 2017, the theme is “Cultural Heritage & Sustainable Tourism”, chosen in relation to the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. We are looking at a plan involving events, social media and the website, and will get back to you as we progress more, but if you have ideas about how we as a community can do this well, or want to help do it, please send them to Chris at

Give as you live

As we are a charity, we need to raise funds to supplement our membership fees so that we can do more to support World Heritage Sites.  One way of doing this is through charity-giving shopping websites, and we have recently signed up to ‘Give as you live‘  Basically, it is a portal for a load of online stores, including John Lewis, Argos, M&S etc, and also a price comparison website.  Any purchase you make from any of these hundreds of store and services, which started at will generate a commission for World Heritage UK, as long as, when you sign in, you identify World Heritage UK as your chosen Charity.  So, in essence, it is free and very easy to use, has all of the online stores you might use anyway, might even save you money, and supports your Charity at the same time.  What’s not to like!  Please do sign up here and start shopping… thanks.


Finally, in order to make the most of World Heritage UK we are always looking for volunteers to help with specific tasks. At the moment, I would really value someone with a bit of experience with WordPress to take on a role with the Website, and make to more up to date and exciting!  We could also benefit from someone who can support Chris with the Facebook side of things, and start to make good links between Sites – to complement the excellent work our Twitter volunteer Coralie is doing. Please do let Chris know if you have a bit of time and want to help in any capacity, and I’m sure we can match your skills to a role.

Many thanks and I hope to see you soon at one of our meetings,

Best wishes

Sam Rose (Chair of World Heritage UK)


Practical and conceptual challenges with conservation in the 21st Century – call for provocations!

News, Opportunities

Practical and conceptual challenges with conservation – call for provocations!

Daisy Sutcliffe, who coordinated the Arts Programme for the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, and her colleague Phil Nicholson are keen to invite provocations from those working in conservation for their upcoming session Visualising the Conserved Anthropocene at the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers conference later this year.

How does the way that ‘Nature’ is considered ‘other’ or opposed to ‘Humans’ affect your work?

How does the current state of geopolitics impact on the way that conservation is practiced in your field?

How could visualisations that address these assumptions help to conserve our environments in the anthropocene, and help to support your work?

You don’t need to be academic or speak in academic language, in fact we hope that the session will question this format and be able to make further links between those who primarily think about conservation and those who practice conservation daily. For those who are not planning to attend the conference or might find a trip to London prohibitive, we can offer a live video link, and there is the possibility that we may be able to negotiate limited guest passes for the conference on the day of the session.  If you are interested, please follow the instructions below, and, with apologies, please note the short deadline of next Monday, 6th February.

Call for Provocations: RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2017: ‘Decolonising geographical knowledges: opening geography out to the world’. London, 29th August – 1st September 2017

Visualising the Conserved Anthropocene 

Convenors: Daisy Sutcliffe (The University of Glasgow), Philip Nicholson (The University of Glasgow)

Sponsored by: Postgraduate Forum (PGF)

‘Conserving’ our environments in the Anthropocene throws up new conceptual and practical challenges, not least that the organisations that are charged with supporting this conservation such as UNESCO, the IUCN and WWF were set up by Western cultures in the mid-twentieth century. Here, the environment was largely framed within a classical geopolitical, modernist thinking with humans at the pinnacle of a hierarchical structure with responsibility for an appropriate stewardship of a Nature conceived of as other. As numerous commentators have observed, the Anthropocene has challenged the ‘rootedness’ of philosophical debates on a life well lived, instead placing emphases on material ontologies of exposure and vulnerability, symbiosis and depredation. Furthermore, it has exhausted established modes of visualising Nature, from photos of doomed polar bears, maps showing the borders of inscribed sites of conservation, to the transects that reveal a geological archive. What are the implications of such material ontologies for ‘visualising’ the Anthropocene? How might new modes of visualisation be developed for the Anthropocene and how might these be applied to conservation policy and practice? This session will explore these fraught, yet productive, tensions between the Anthropocene, conservation and visualisation, with an emphasis on work in progress.

We invite provocations reflecting on some of the challenges of conservation and visualisation of environments in the Anthropocene. We ask, how might these new modes of visualisation be productive for the conservation of environments in the Anthropocene?

Such provocations might include, but are not limited to:

•       Insights from artist residencies
•       Curating the Anthropocene
•       New approaches in geographic information science
•       Creative Geo-visualisations
•       Field encounters across disciplinary and cultural boundaries
•       New or novel institutional structures
•       Experimental and interdisciplinary approaches to conservation

Contributors will have up to 10 minutes to outline their provocations. We welcome presentations in the form of traditional papers but also encourage alternative formats such as PechaKucha style, photo or video essays, short film screenings, performances etc. These will lead to a facilitated discussion.

Please submit title, name & affiliation and an abstract of no more than 250 words to and Daisy Sutcliffe by Monday 6th February 2017.


Daisy Sutcliffe

Researcher, Evaluator, Facilitator and Producer, engagement with nature / heritage / arts
+44 7811 379105

Blenheim Palace “under wraps”

Conservation, News, Uncategorized

Blenheim Palace has embarked on a major £350,000 restoration project on its historic North Steps entrance. The steps, which are an integral part of the Oxfordshire baroque Palace, have been welcoming millions of visitors for almost three centuries.

Recent survey work showed the stone steps are slowly spreading apart and moving downhill away from the main structure. Exploratory excavations revealed they were originally constructed on top of a mix of compacted stone rubble, earth and mortared brickwork. Over the centuries lime mortar between the bricks has been eroded and the infill base settled, this combined with gravity has resulted in the steps moving away from the Palace.

A team of specialist stonemasons will painstakingly remove the existing step and Portland flagstones, before reinstating the underlying substrate. Each step and flagstone will then be thoroughly inspected to see it if requires and repairs and, if necessary, replacement.

While work is taking place the area has been wrapped in a 56 metre long and seven metre high banner featuring a photographic representation of the North Steps. Special viewing windows and platforms have also been created so the public can see the restoration work taking place.

 The restoration project began in December, 2016 and is anticipated to be completed by mid-May, 2017. While work is taking place the steps will be out of action to visitors, however special viewing windows and platforms have been created so the public can see the restoration work taking place.

Roger File, Property Director said: “We’d like to apologise to our visitors for any inconvenience this restoration project will cause, however it is crucial we undertake this type of conservation work to help preserve and protect Blenheim Palace for future generations to enjoy and experience”

.“The work will also provide a fascinating opportunity to gain an insight in to how the original builders created part of this extraordinary structure,” He added.

In 2011 Blenheim Palace completed similar restoration work on the South Front Steps which were also moving away from the Palace. The restoration proved incredibly successful and has offered a template for the current restoration project.

Built in the early 18th century as a monument to celebrate Britain’s victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession, the Palace is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. It was officially designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.


Awards, Celebration, News, Planning, Uncategorized

Liverpool- John Hickey-fryLIVERPOOL has become the UK’s first “Heritage Role Model” – after being chosen to help spearhead Europe’s biggest drive to develop historic city centres.

Liverpool is one of ten cities – and the only one in the UK – to successfully bid for 10 million euros of Horizon 2020 funding to examine how cities can use heritage as a powerful engine for economic growth.

Liverpool City Council is to receive just over 400,000 euros from the prestigious ROCK programme (Renewable Heritage in Creative and Knowledge Economies) which will be used to promote the city’s unique assets and develop community engagement around its Mercantile World Heritage Site (WHS) – the results from which will help create a new European strategy.

ROCK funded activities will include initiatives to increase participation such as a citizen/youth board, volunteer programmes and social and wellbeing projects hosted at the Grade I listed St George’s Hall, which will celebrate the 10 anniversary of its £23 refurbishment in April.

This will be coupled with new digital interpretation panels and ‘way finder’ signage to connect the historic waterfront (including the newly established RIBA Centre at Mann Island) to key historic and cultural assets such as the Town Hall, St George’s Hall and the wider St George’s Quarter.

The funding, which is to be to be approved by Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet in February, coincides with a five year review of Liverpool’s WHS which found that £427m has been invested in heritage buildings with a further £245m on site and in the pipeline.

The survey found that 18 listed buildings situated within Liverpool’s WHS have been refurbished/brought back into use since 2012 with council financial assistance, such as the Aloft Hotel, the award-winning Central Library and Stanley Dock. Similar schemes to a further 19 listed buildings within WHS are currently on site.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Receiving this European funding is a huge coup for Liverpool and demonstrates how highly the city is internationally regarded in the way it protects its heritage.

“This funding will allow us to invest in radically improving our marketing and interpretation of our key heritage assets to residents and visitors, which will help further fuel our global appeal and booming tourism economy. 

“The collaboration with such prestigious partners will also provide an invaluable opportunity to exchange best practice with other historic cities such as Athens, Bologna and Lisbon and will put us at Europe’s top table for heritage development.”

It is hoped ROCK heritage pilot activity will form the basis for more substantial initiatives to build on ‘best practice’ across partners, increase heritage participation in all age groups, and improve inclusion and wellbeing.

Knowledge exchange and mentoring will take place across all cities on best practice deployment of sensor technology to monitor and conserve Heritage assets.

The 32 partner project, overseen by the city of Bologna, includes expert representation from UNESCO, United Cities and Local Government (UCLG), European Universities Association (EUA), and URBACT and is the largest of its kind in the H2020 programme.

It is regarded as the pinnacle of international heritage research, the results of which will form the basis for a future European wide strategy linked to RSI3 smart specialisation.

Technical Workshop: Planning for World Heritage Sites – dovetail or disconnect? Bath, 8th March 2017

Bath 2017, Education, Events, News, Planning, training, Uncategorized, UNESCO, Workshop, World Heritage Sites



Tickets for this technical workshop are now available  HERE


Planning for World Heritage Sites – dovetail or disconnect?


10.00 Introduction

10.15 Overview of the planning systems (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), to include:

  • planning policy and development management
  • who makes decisions about what
  • the underlying philosophy of the planning approach to development

10.30 Planning policy at national and local levels, to include, for each level:

  • why planning policies are important for World Heritage
  • where to find planning policies on World Heritage
  • what policies exist already?
  • can policies be totally prescriptive?
  • who makes policies – the roles of civil servants/local authority officers and ministers/elected local authority members
  • how to influence decision makers

11.00 Questions

11.10 Coffee

11.25 How decisions on development proposals are made, to include:

  • o   Who makes decisions – the roles of local authority officers and members, central government inspectors and        ministers
  • o   How decisions are made
  • o   What planners need to know when making decisions
  • o   How to influence decision makers
  • o   Heritage impact Assessment
  • o   OUV and “significance” – lessons from the Chacewater, Cornwall appeal decision

12.10 Decisions that threaten World Heritage Status, to include:

  • the role of the State Party
  • which Government departments do what
  • who advises the World Heritage Committee?
  • the role of ICOMOS
  • how is the decision for Reactive Monitoring made?
  • what is the process of Reactive Monitoring?

12.40 Questions

1.00     Lunch and group photo


The aim of the afternoon session is to identify what is going well and what needs to be improved and is everyone’s opportunity to have their say. It will be split into two parts, first looking at national issues and then local government issues, and to hear about some specific examples.

1.30     Introduction

1.40     National and international issues

Possible issues to discuss

  • are the overall planning systems fit for purpose in relation to World Heritage?
  • is anyone monitoring the effectiveness of the planning systems?
  • are national policies sufficiently robust?
  • are World Heritage Sites sufficiently valued?
  • how can state reporting and the Reactive monitoring process be improved?

2.40     Local issues

Possible issues to discuss:

  • is anyone monitoring the effectiveness of the planning systems?
  • are local policies sufficiently robust?
  • are World Heritage Sites sufficiently valued?

3.40     Summing up and closing remarks, to include:

  • summary of gaps/suggestions from workshop sessions
  • next steps, including production of a position paper

4.00     Close and depart

New Tour for 2017 at Blenheim Palace

Arts, Conservation, Events, News, Opportunities, Uncategorized, World Heritage Sites

Discover the real ‘Behind the Scenes’ at Blenheim Palace, in a fascinating limited edition new tour for 2017. ‘Restoration & Conservation’ will be the theme of the guided tours which will begin in the New Year as part of the extended opening season experience offered to visitors at the Oxford World Heritage Site.

The ‘Restoration & Conservation’ tour will be exclusively available from 9 January – 8 February 2017, running twice per day excluding Sundays. The new tours will tie in to the annual deep clean of Blenheim Palace which will now be on full to visitors during this period. The tour will give an in-depth look into what is being done in each of the State Rooms.

The new tours will look at two very important aspects of running a 300 year old Palace, including restoring a piece of art, building or tapestry to its original condition, as well as the preservation and repair of the historical and cultural site and its artefacts. The tour will also examine the theme of renovation, exploring how Blenheim Palace must also modernise and remain as a comfortable family home and appealing to visitors.

From the necessary continuing restoration of the ‘Capability’ Brown Cascades and Bladon dams, work which will total approximately £2m when completed to keeping the Palace safe for its inhabitants and visitors, the tour will look at which projects are undertaken, when and why.

The fascinating tour will also look at the most impactful projects including The Eyes in 1928. Painted for the 2nd wife of the 9th Duke, Gladys Deacon, these have a great visual impact on visitors. Exposure to the elements over 80 years had caused the painting and plaster work to degrade to a point where they were barely visible. 

From clocks to paintings each piece of work often requires specialist and niche attention, with specialists sought from all over the world to complete the painstaking tasks of restoring priceless pieces of history.

The job of cleaning the China collection used to fall to the 10th Duchess and her unfortunate administrator, Archie Illingworth – he used to dread the call, ‘Mr Illingworth, today we are going to clean the China!’  The Duchess would wash the China and it was Archie’s responsibility to dry it.

 One of the recent renovations is the Bouchain Tapestry, the priceless 18th century tapestry depicting one of Britain’s most important military victories is 25ft wide and almost 15 feet high. The giant wall hanging is made of wool and silk and was woven in the Brussels workshop of the Flemish weaver, Judocus de Vos.

Part of a set of 10, the tapestries are the most accurate and detailed contemporary records that exist of the campaign, not least because the 1st Duke, John Churchill, provided accurate battle plans and portraits of the principal characters. After being painstakingly removed from the walls of the Palace’s Second State Room, the tapestry was carefully rolled up before being transported back to the city it was originally created in for renovation. It took a year to completely renovate!

From keeping the rain out, Blenheim Palace has over 7 acres of roof, to protecting ceremonial robes, the Marlborough;s Coronation Robes were beginning to deteriorate in the sunlight, there is must to learn and lots of exciting facts to discover.

What: New Restoration & Conservation Tour at Blenheim Palace

When: From 6 January – 28 February 2017, running twice per day excluding Sundays

Why Visit: Discover the intricate processes of historical restoration and modern conservation whilst maintaining the heritage of the Oxfordshire World Heritage Site.

Price: Palace, Park & Garden ticket required, Adult £24.90, Concession* £19.90, Child £13.90


Seasonal message from Sam Rose

News, Uncategorized, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites

sam rose 2015Dear World Heritage UK members and supporters

This has been the first full year for World Heritage UK and I think we can safely say that it has been busy and successful.  January kicked the year’s events off with an excellent Technical Meeting on Management Planning in Edinburgh.  Not only did it include a useful set of presentations and workshop sessions, but the Burns Night supper went down very well, and some people even braved the torrential rain for a short field trip on the Tuesday morning.   Our thanks go to our outstanding hosts, Historic Environment Scotland.

This was followed by an excellent one-day seminar at the Tower of London in collaboration with ALVA about challenges and opportunities facing World Heritage; highlighting perhaps the degree with which we as World Heritage Sites would benefit from collaborating across the sector.

June brought the first summer Networking Meeting, hosted superbly by the National Trust at Giant’s Causeway.  The mixture of field trip, evening meal, general meeting and presentations worked well, and it was a pleasure to see another of the UK’s natural sites.

Caernarfon was the venue for the second annual World Heritage UK conference in October, which, from all the feedback, was every bit as good as the first one in Saltaire.  The mixture of case studies, high-profile speakers (young and old), field trips and an evening reception at Penrhyn Castle made for a very popular and useful event.  We are particularly grateful to Cadw for their support for this event, and also to Gwynedd Council and the National Trust.  We will be looking to maintain the high standard next autumn at Ironbridge – dates to be confirmed shortly in the new year.

Finally, in collaboration with the Institute of Fundraising and their Giving to Heritage scheme, we held the first of what we hope to be an ongoing set of training events in subjects that you say you need support  – in this case fundraising.  This was followed for some people by a House of Lords reception to celebrate 30 years of World Heritage Sites in the UK.  World Heritage UK were identified as a key partner by Historic England, and it was a useful event for profile raising.

In terms of profile and advocacy, we have managed to get ourselves around some ‘important desks’, including that of the new Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, in respect of ‘post-Brexit’ issues. We produced a useful paper in that respect which is available on our website.  Locally,  World Heritage Sites have, as ever, been promoting the values and importance of World Heritage, particularly those seven that were given the status some 30 years ago.

There are many more things I could say but I won’t bore you any further – it is Christmas after all – apart from to say that I hope we are doing what you, as members, need.  This is your organisation, you are the members, so please do let us know what you think.

As for next year, we are confirming the programme for the year which will start with a Technical Meeting about World Heritage and Planning in Bath on March 8th.   We will also be looking to join Sites up better around 2017 World Heritage Day (April 18th), and hopefully make a bit of splash about it.  More details will follow as we get into the new year. 

Finally, if you are not a member and would like to be, or knows someone/an organisation who would, please get in touch with Chris on  It is important to build our membership, after all, World Heritage is for Life, not just for Christmas.

 Have a really great festive season, and all of the very best for 2017

Very best wishes

Sam Rose and the Board of Trustees

World Heritage UK

Save-the-date: Planning Technical Workshop 8th March 2017

Education, Events, Network meetings, News, Opportunities, training, Uncategorized, UNESCO

Save-the-date  Planning Technical Workshop

We are pleased to announce the date and location of the next World Heritage UK Technical Workshop, which as a result of Member feedback, will explore further issues around Planning and World Heritage Sites.

Save the date:

Date: Wednesday 8th March 2017 (evening networking social event on the 7th likely)

Venue: Bath Cricket Club (website here)

Bath Cricket Club is located at the recreational heart of the City of Bath World Heritage Site, with spectacular views across the ground taking in the spires of Bath Abbey and St Johns Church to the city and beyond. The club is 5 minutes from both Bath Spa railway station and the newly re-refurbished bus stations with car parking alongside the clubhouse.

Further details on the programme, tickets, accommodation etc. to follow.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Tony Crouch, Don Gobbett and Chris Mahon

World Heritage UK Technical Workshop Team