‘Setting the Scene for World Heritage’ conference review

Conference, Conference Tower of London, DCMS Minister, Events, News, Planning, Uncategorized, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK

WHUK 2018 lowres-6656

The World Heritage UK annual conference for 2018 is now a happy memory with much learned, experiences and knowledge shared, networks renewed and new friendships forged over two days in October. The historic Tower of London, in the shadows of its neighbouring 21st century high rise glass skyscrapers, was the perfect place to discuss the ‘setting’ of the UK’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and our thanks go to Historic Royal Palaces for hosting the event and providing some memorable behind-the-scenes tours.

The conference attracted over a hundred participants, including Michael Ellis, the Under Secretary of State and his team from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), colleagues from Historic England and the heritage agencies of the devolved nations (who also provided country overview presentations), university academics, heritage consultancy professionals, representatives of most of the UK’s 31 World Heritage Sites, delegates from Bermuda, Germany, Malta and a delegation from the China Academy of Urban Planning Design.

The Minister’s words were very supportive of the work of World Heritage UK and he re-stated the Government’s commitment to heritage protection. This backing will be important when the UK World Heritage Site Review, being carried out by World Heritage UK President, Chris Blandford, is published in 2019, and a summary of progress on this review work formed part of the busy conference programme.

Delegates also heard fascinating insights into case studies where the settings of World Heritage Sites were being challenged, in particular by tall buildings at the Tower of London, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and in Liverpool, by road development at Stonehenge, nationally significant infrastructure projects and changes in agricultural policy in the English Lake District and a variety of issues in the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, including wind turbines, industrial and housing developments.

There were interactive sessions too, with a Question Time style panel and the popular 5- minute ‘elevator pitches’ which provided short but insightful contributions that were received well by an enthused audience.

As usual the conference’s additional activities were epic, including a wide range of short behind-the-scenes tours both at the Tower of London and at the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Sites, a speedy clipper trip on the River Thames and a jolly conference dinner at the Old Brewery in Greenwich.

Feedback from delegates has been 100% positive on the overall experience of the conference via the 39% of feedback forms received. Speaker’s presentations and other arisings from the event will be uploaded to the World Heritage UK website in due course.

We are already planning and looking forward to next year’s conference which will be hosted in Llangollen by the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site in North Wales. In the meantime, the next event will be a technical workshop on ‘Education in World Heritage Sites’ which will take place at Big Pit, Blaenavon on 19th and 20th February 2019

Do sign up to this blog to receive further updates on World Heritage UK activity www.worldheritageuk.org/blog

Photo credits: Sam Rose

Controversial World Heritage conference expected at the Tower of London, 15th and 16th October 2018

Conference Tower of London, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, News, Planning, Stonehenge, Uncategorized, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK
Tower and tall buildings (2)

Tall buildings and the Tower of London UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just one of many controversial issues regarding the ‘setting’ of World Heritage Sites to be considered by speakers and delegates at the 4th World Heritage UK Annual Conference on 15th/16th October 2018.   Photo credit: Historic Royal Palaces

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.

DCMS line up

A new team at DCMS – and World Heritage UK have met the boss

News

DCMS Changes

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.

Sam Rose

5/8/16