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
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
Jodrell Bank Observatory has been chosen as the UK’s nomination for World Heritage site status in 2019, Heritage Minister Michael Ellis announced today.
The Observatory, part of the University of Manchester, is home to the Grade I Listed Lovell Telescope and is a site of global importance in the history of radio astronomy.
Founded in 1945, it is the earliest radio astronomy observatory in the world still in existence and pioneered the exploration of the universe using radio waves.
The UK currently has 31 World Heritage Sites, with The Lake District having been inscribed in 2017.
In order to be inscribed as a World Heritage Site, nominations must show that they possess Outstanding Universal Value, which transcends borders.
The nomination will now be formally assessed by the International Council of Sites and Monuments before the World Heritage Committee decides whether it will join the likes of The Great Barrier Reef, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China as a designated World Heritage Site.
Jodrell Bank is the only site in the world that includes evidence of every stage of the post-1945 development of radio astronomy. As well as the Lovell Telescope, it also includes the Grade I Listed Mark II Telescope and the Park Royal building, which was the control room for the Transit Telescope, whose detection of radio waves from the Andromeda Galaxy confirmed that the Universe extends beyond our own galaxy.
Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said:
“Jodrell Bank played a central role in transforming our understanding of the Universe and is therefore a site of global importance.
“The nomination process for UNESCO is rightly thorough but I believe Jodrell Bank deserves to be recognised.
“The diverse heritage of the UK is world renowned and the observatory would be a worthy addition to our list of World Heritage Sites.”
Professor Teresa Anderson, Director of Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre said:
“The Jodrell Bank Observatory, and Lovell Telescope in particular, have become icons of science and engineering around the world and we’re delighted to reach this milestone. We have been preparing the case for nomination for inclusion of Jodrell Bank on the World Heritage list for several years now and we look forward to showcasing its rich scientific heritage on the international stage.”
Professor Tim O’Brien, Associate Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, said:
“Jodrell Bank really is an iconic site and institution, not just here in the northwest of England but to people around the world.
“It is the one remaining site, worldwide which has been a working observatory from the very first days of radio astronomy to the present day. It’s important that we protect its rich heritage as we celebrate its current and future work.”
Last year the Government announced it will award £4 million to Jodrell Bank to help fund its new interpretation centre project, promoting the historically significant scientific work.
World Heritage UK’s Chair and President have met with John Glen, the Under Secretary of State for the Arts, Heritage and Tourism at Whitehall in London. Sam Rose and Chris Blandford introduced the Minister to the goals of World Heritage UK and a range of issues were discussed. One of the significant outcomes was an invitation to meet with a senior representative of Visit Britain, a meeting which will take place next week.
Seen here with one of Visit Britain’s ‘GREAT Britain’ campaign posters, the UK’s 31 globally recognised UNESCO World Heritage Sites should fit nicely into this theme.
Since the arrival of Teresa May as Prime Minister there has been a lot of change at Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). The Secretary of State is now the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, who was formerly at the Home Office.
Whilst most other members of the team have changed, the World Heritage community is lucky to have continuety in the form of Tracey Crouch MP, the junior Minister with the brief for Heritage and Tourism, and we look forward to continue working with her over the coming years.
Brexit Round table
Over the last two weeks Site Coordinators have been asked for their views on how they think the referendum result may impact on WH Sites and their management. This was in order to put together a briefing paper in advance of round table discussion about this issue between the Secretary of State and the Heritage Sector.
We were lucky enough to be offered a place around the table for the meeting, as part of a group that included the National Trust, Historic England, English Heritage Trust, Historic Houses Assocation, Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Royal Palaces, Heritage Alliance and the Churches Conservation Trust.
So it was in that rather exulted company that I attended the session on Wednesday armed with the views of our membership. The round table was a useful exercise – collectively we expressed our percieved challenges, notably around losing funding, concerns over European designations and movement of people with necessary skills. We also presented some opportunities, particularly around the potential for new collaborations and the heightened role that the Heritage Sector can play in presenting the UK and in ‘soft power’ diplomacy.
The Secretary of State was relaxed and interested, and sees the importance and value of Heritage. Along with her colleague Lord Ashton (two ministers for the price of one!) we hope that they are able to use our messages around the cabinet table, in committees and in both houses. I also hope that this is just the start of an enhanced dialogue with government, and I will keep you up to date.
Our briefing paper is available to download from this page – go to the bottom under Brexit discussions. Please do continue to send Chris or I your examples to collate – the Secretary of State offered us an opportunity to email further thoughts at the end of the meeting, so if we have useful evidence or constructive comments we can send it her way.
World Heritage UK response to Culture White Paper
Dear members and supporters
In response to the Culture White Paper published last month, World Heritage UK have put together a letter to Ed Vaizey MP, the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy. We are aware that there is no longer an official consultation period for this White Paper, but in the interests of being part of a listening government, we are hopeful that the Minster will take into account what we have written.
The letter, and our original submission to the process, can be found here. The essence is that whilst we feel that it is a positive move to put World Heritage in the Paper, and to aim to “set a global standard in the stewardship of World Heritage Sites“, there is a missed opportunity to provide some much needed support for the UK Sites to reach that high quality standard that the Paper aspires to, and further therefore be able to provide the expertise needed to support Sites overseas.
As such we have requested a discussion with the Minister about how some of the proposed Cultural Protection Fund can be used for this purpose.
We would welcome your comments, and if you feel the urge to write as individual Sites, please feel free to quote from the letter.
With best wishes
Sam Rose, on behalf of World Heritage UK
Chair of Trustees
We have rather belatedly caught up with the Culture White Paper process, and although the consultation seems to have been mainly in 2015, we have been assured by DCMS that as long as we get a letter to Ed Vaizey by the 3rd week of Feb, our views will be included.
There is little clarity as to what the White Paper actually is. It seems to be more of a discussion, prior to a document, which is in itself no bad thing, and is set out around the following 4 themes:
1) Places: how culture helps to create places that are attractive and vibrant and how we will support places that want to use culture to drive development and regeneration. This section will cover how heritage is protected, managed, and made accessible; the diversity of heritage; heritage’s contribution to the economy and general wellbeing and the benefits of strategic investment in heritage.
2) People: how culture benefits people in their individual and everyday lives, how we will improve access and participation, and use culture in wider social agendas, such as education, health and well-being. This section will cover heritage participation; heritage education programmes; the sector’s digital offer; and heritage crime.
3) Funding: how government will help and support cultural organisations to increase philanthropy and access funding from new sources, and reform public bodies to ensure they are fit for the future. This section will cover Heritage at Risk; grant schemes; the role of the HLF, new ways of working and opportunities for philanthropy.
4) Cultural Diplomacy: how culture contributes to the UK’s international reputation and soft power and how we will build on the current position to ensure that culture continues to support and contribute to our trade, exports and influence. This section will cover world heritage sites; underwater cultural heritage; the promotion of the value of cultural heritage; Britain’s heritage in the media; the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict and Illicit trade.
Whilst we (WH:UK) tried to get a place at a round table at the back end of 2015, this was not possible, and in fact most comments seemed to be invited through twitter and their blog. You can find more details at:
and a cursory google search (other search engines are available) will produce submissions etc.
So in order for WH:UK to write a meaningful letter, we need your input, and unfortunately, we need it quickly. If you are able, please could you write succint comments about the role that World Heritage Sites (as opposed to, but linked with, the whole heritage sector) can play in the four themes above. We will then distill this into something appropriate for a ministerial letter.
Please send your submissions to email@example.com and the deadline is the end of next Monday (8th) please.
World Heritage UK
Chair of Trustees