‘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

World Heritage UK conference sponsors support Tower of London event

Conference, Conference Tower of London, Conservation, Culture, Events, London, News, Planning, Uncategorized, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK

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

World Heritage UK responds to draft National Planning Framework

Advocacy, communications, Conservation, consultation, Culture, DCMS Minister, News, Planning, Publications, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK

WORLD HERITAGE UK’S RESPONSE TO DRAFT REVISED NATIONAL PLANNING FRAMEWORK FOR ENGLAND

 

cityscape St Pauls and The Shard

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

World Heritage UK Welcomes Change of Mood on Liverpool’s World Heritage Site

Advocacy, Announcement, Culture, Liverpool, News, Planning, Uncategorized, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK
800px-Liverpool_skyline,_closeup

Liverpool World Heritage Site Credit: Wikipedia commons

 

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.

See also: https://lbndaily.co.uk/world-heritage-uk-backs-liverpools-push-preserve-world-heritage-status/

https://www.placenorthwest.co.uk/news/heritage-body-takes-up-liverpools-case/

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.

Planning Inspector supports WHS setting

Bath 2017, Conservation, Management Plan, News, Planning, Uncategorized, UNESCO, Workshop, World Heritage Sites

BATH SKYLINE FROM ZION HILLThe green setting of Bath is a key attribute of Outstanding Universal Value

Following the World Heritage UK Technical Seminar on planning and World Heritage on 8th March, you may be interested in this recent (18 April 2017) appeal decision from Bath. In dismissing the appeal for 20 dwellings within the WHS, the inspector was convinced by the Council’s policy documents including the WHS Management Plan and the need to protect open hillsides as part of the OUV. We know from discussion in the technical seminar that comparable examples from different sites are considered useful and this example also provides some validation of Bath’s ‘Setting Study’ approach, another hot topic!  The decision can be found here. Please feel free to contact tony_crouch@bathnes.gov.uk for any further detail. 

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

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

Introduction

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

Presentations

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. 

Morning

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

Afternoon

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

Feedback will follow shortly

Acknowledgements

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.

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

THE LATEST IN A SERIES OF TECHNICAL WORKSHOPS ON PLANNING, PRODUCED BY WORLD HERITAGE UK:

bath-credit-martin-pettitt

Tickets for this technical workshop are now available  HERE

DRAFT PROGRAMME FOR 8TH MARCH 2017

Planning for World Heritage Sites – dovetail or disconnect?

MORNING SESSION – HOW DO THE UK’s PLANNING SYSTEMS WORK?

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

AFTERNOON SESSION – WORKSHOP SESSIONS TO IDENTIFY ISSUES AND IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED

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

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

Saltaire Plan wins Royal Town Planning Institute Award for Planning Excellence

News
The recently revised Saltaire World Heritage Site Management Plan has won the RTPI Yorkshire Planning Excellence Award 2015. The Award was made at the annual RTPI Annual Lecture in Leeds Civic Hall on July 23rd.The award is made for “excellence in a project which shows originality, regional significance and leadership”. Bradford’s entry – the revised World Heritage Site Management Plan for Saltaire was judged on issues such as sustainable development, good practice, community involvement and planning content.Winning this award is a clear demonstration of the quality of the work being done to manage this prestigious World Heritage Site for the people of Saltaire, Bradford, the UK and the World.

The Plan was approved by Bradford Council’s Executive Committee back in December 2014 and by the Government and UNESCO early this year.

Council Officers are working towards all the Plan’s projects and goals for improvements in the World Heritage Site in the short term and for up to 30 years ahead. The Plan contains all the relevant planning policy, practice and guidance for residents, businesses and developers wanting to develop their property or land in or near the World Heritage Site.