IHBC Annual School 2008
Historic areas: managing the spaces in between
The germ of an idea about the 2008 Annual School dates back to a boat trip round Plymouth Harbour during the 2006 school. A chance remark was made that the south east branch would be interested in organising a future school. At that time a venue for 2008 had not been agreed and beyond liverpool in 2007 there were no branches volunteering for the privilege. The remark soon became a firm suggestion and the south east branch formally agreed to organise the school at its AGM in September 2006. IHBC council agreed to the branch’s offer in december 2006. As for the theme of the school, it was considered that instead of concentrating on the large urban regeneration schemes of Plymouth and liverpool, the school should look at setting, context and landscape – the spaces in between.
An annual school committee was formed and set about booking the venues for 26 to 29 June 2008. The University of Surrey in Guildford was selected as the main venue. The difference to previous schools was that the IHBC national office took care of booking speakers for the day school and also took on the majority of administration (including bookings, payments and tour selection). This, as every school organiser will confirm, was a great help. The committee was left to arrange the talks and tours for Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The programme was developed, coaches booked and tour guides arranged. The two Johns from (or in one case formally from) Guildford Borough Council (John davey and John Townsend) have to be thanked for arranging the Guildford tours on Thursday and Sunday,
and the visit to Caterham and the Spike. Chezel Bird of the Conservation Studio coordinated sponsorship. The school started with a choice between a number of guided tours around Guildford (medieval, post-medieval, High Street highlights and the Wey navigation). These provided a good introduction to what makes up the special character of Guildford. The alternative was the IHBC’s first fringe school. This was a fascinating selection of talks from students and early career professionals who had entered the Gus Astley awards, and others.
delegates came back to the university for the presentation of the Astleys, the student awards in memory of Gus Astley. John davey gave a talk on the development of Guildford. This was followed by a reception where by kind invitation we were privileged to gather in the historic setting of the Royal Grammar School.
The day school followed – more of which appears in the following pages. In her keynote speech Baroness Andrews spoke about communities creating places, and the importance of heritage in the wider planning and regeneration agenda. She was pleased to see a positive gender balance in the profession. The day school was a departure from the normal format, with a mix of lectures and workshops, to avoid having a full day in the same lecture theatre, and to give delegates a wide choice of practical or specialist seminars.
The annual dinner was held at Farnham Castle, a place with a strong identity and character. Historical associations and nearly continuous occupancy make
the Bishop’s Palace at Farnham Castle one of the most important buildings in south east England. A mixture of architectural styles – primarily early Norman, Tudor and restoration – could be seen in the complex of scheduled monuments, and Grade I and II listed buildings. Karen Jones, the after-dinner jazz singer, had a memorable identity and character.
Saturday was taken up with the study tours, starting with brief introductory lectures in the morning followed by visits to either Bramshill and odiham, or to Caterham Barracks and the Spike. Here was the opportunity to visit places, and see what was important and significant to users and the local community. There was an interesting contrast between Bramshill, a Grade I Jacobean mansion under pressure from its use as a police college, and odiham, a small market town with a very special character, under threat from what was perceived to be inappropriate developments and changes. Caterham and the Spike were examples of regenerating places using strong community participation.
For the more energetic, Saturday evening provided an opportunity to let off steam (or simply prop up the bar) with a barn dance at the Farnham Maltings. The successful school ended with about 50 delegates visiting the Watts Gallery and Chapel on Sunday morning. The subject of a BBC Restoration programme, both buildings are a testament to fine craftsmanship. This was a golden opportunity to see the gallery prior to a major facelift and renovation programme.
The school managed to look at, and assess, a variety of places and spaces ‘in between’. These places all have their own character and identity. The character of Guildford, for example, developed over time through the vernacular process. There was no one person
trying to create or design it in line with a master plan. Transport limitations ensured that buildings and streets were constructed from locally sourced materials, and construction techniques restricted the range of building types. With industrialisation these local constraints were loosened and have now largely disappeared. local distinctiveness in places such as Guildford or odiham is now an issue of choice and design, rather than necessity.
very few new designed spaces have the qualities and character of historic places such as Guildford High Street. Such popular and busy places can be described as ‘good’ or attractive places – they are historic and have a delightful combination of buildings, floorscape, landscape and topography. Working in such historic places is at the core of the IHBC professional competencies. Managing these places is often overlooked as we concentrate on problems with individual buildings (issues such as buildings at risk, repair grants, listed building consents and correct mortar mixes). Having the opportunity to consider place and spaces was a worthwhile theme for a thoroughly enjoyable IHBC annual school.
Thanks go to the annual school organising committee of the south east branch, in particular Jo Evans, and to all tour leaders and guides, namely Mary Alexander, Matthew Alexander, Ivan Ball, Nigel Barker, Chezel Bird, Bramshill Police College, ollie Chapman, John davey, Julia dudkiewicz (the Watts Gallery), Graham Foster, Ken Grimmer (Royal Grammar School), david Harrison, Pete Mills, Elizabeth Mitchell, Richard Morrice, Fiona Newton, Matt o’Farrell, odiham Parish Council, the odiham Society, John Redpath (and volunteers at the Spike), Sean Rix and John Townsend.
David Kincaid
Annual Dinner
Annual dinner (Photo: Peter Mills)
Baroness Andrews
Keynote speech
million more older households than there are today, accounting for 48 per cent of the increase in the total number of households in England. The current credit crisis is affecting the ability to deliver this housing, but is not making the underlying problem go away. This is not simply about the number of homes, although the numbers are critical. It is also about smarter homes, which means designing and building homes to lifetime standards that are flexible, adaptable and environmentally efficient.
There are other challenges to address concerning how we can inspire and bring back to life communities that are in decline, such as the South Wales coalfield. The bottom-up regeneration of these coalfield communities has been particularly impressive. There are examples of amazing achievements by individual people and voluntary community groups in turning around places which were once known to the world for their role in the industrial revolution, but which are now virtually abandoned by a modern economy which depends on different sorts of skills.
Another example where heritage has opened the door to a better future is the recovery from dereliction of the Gorton Monastery (by Edward Welby Pugin) in Manchester. It was closed in 1989 but now, thanks to the dedication of a trust set up to support it, the building provides a venue for social and cultural events, exhibitions, conferences, community events and a base for small businesses.
At Tyntesfield the National Trust is trying out some new ways of working with local communities and young people. volunteering projects run by the trust include Wisdom which is based on a new idea of involving young people in looking after the house and the collections (the title expressing the idea that you do not need to be old to have wisdom). The trust is creating a centre of excellence for heritage and craft skills. At Tyntesfield it is incorporating training opportunities within the programme of works to restore the building so that students, apprentices and volunteers can gain first-hand experience in heritage craft skills. Their interest in skills development is driving one of the most interesting projects currently under way: the conversion of the victorian electricity generating house into a centre for learning, training and community outreach. The powerful combination of bursaries and apprenticeships can help tackle the skills shortage.
Baroness Andrews briefly discussed the forthcoming heritage protection reforms. The intention is that these reforms will make the historic environment a more important element of planning and local government. Planning is seen as one of the primary means through which local identity can be shaped. The reforms to the planning system the government is proposing are designed to change the culture of planning from a regulatory system to one that is a positive force for renewal and conservation. The Heritage Protection Review is aimed at creating a system of heritage protection that enables heritage to be at the heart of
Andrews: the
heritage protection
reforms will
make the historic
environment a more
important element
of planning and
local government.
(Photo: Fiona
Baroness Kay Andrews, parliamentary under secretary of state at the department for Communities and local Government, gave the keynote speech to the annual school, discussing the challenges we are facing and how government can influence them. Managing our heritage, including places and spaces, was central to addressing these challenges, she said.
People need to understand that heritage is part of the solution. Putting heritage and design quality at the centre of what we all do means using our buildings, streetscapes and landscapes to create and enhance character and identity. That makes sense whether we are talking about areas ready for development, like the Thames Gateway, or in new areas for development, such as eco-towns.
over the centuries Thames Gateway has been the engine room of london’s growth and success. Too often the Gateway is described as if it were a huge, empty, brownfield site. Far from it. There are many scheduled monuments and listed buildings, including Upnor Castle, Rochester Cathedral, Roman walls and Tudor fortifications. The historic Chatham dockyard is on the tentative list for world heritage site status. The range of other heritage assets include the industrial landscape and the domestic; ancient field patterns demarked by hedgerows; and ancient transport routes, woodlands and Rainham Marshes (which is being conserved and restored by the RSPB). The richness and complexity of this place demands that we build to the highest standards.
our ageing society is another of the challenges we face today and the main reason why we need to build homes on a scale which we have not seen for 40 years. It is expected that by 2026 there will be 2.4
place making. The new system will be simpler, more efficient and community-focussed.
Following a challenge from UNESCo, national policy concerning world heritage sites is being re-thought. A draft circular has just been published that helps to protect the outstanding universal vale of world heritage sites. There is a whole series of attempts to strengthen heritage and support communities. This is not just about protection but also about enhancement.
In a recent MoRI poll 70 per cent of those surveyed said that there was no such thing as ‘community’. Cherishing our heritage and building places that people care for can help to counteract that rather chilling statistic. Baroness Andrews considered that greater opportunity and social inclusion could be delivered through heritage that is open to all communities, prosperity that is spread across society, and regeneration that has heritage at its heart. David Kincaid
Heritage comprises three fundamental components: conservation principles, heritage protection reform, and education and training.
Steve Bee: encourage the public to break free from a narrow picture of historic conservation (Photo: Fiona Newton)
Steve Bee
Elements of constructive conservation
With such a title we were put on intensive listening mode – having the promise of an antidote to the negative and uncertain outlook which has pervaded the conservation world in recent years.
We were not disappointed when Steve Bee, director of planning and development at English Heritage, started by allaying commonly held fears that reference to conservation areas had not been included in the draft Heritage Protection Bill. The draft bill had not been complete, and conservation areas have now been included.
‘Constructive conservation’ in the eyes of English
The principles focus on the importance of considering the historic environment as a shared resource; understanding heritage values; managing places to sustain their significance; contribution by all towards protecting the historic environment; transparency and consistency in making decisions about change; and recording and learning from decisions. The emphasis on wider community involvement in conservation issues reflects the theme of constructive conservation, particularly in terms of encouraging local communities to develop a sense of ownership over elements of their local historic environment.
Heritage Protection Reform promises wider consultation, partnership working and greater local responsibility. This should help to encourage the public to break free from what is often a rather narrow picture of historic conservation and the professionals involved.
Saluting Bramshill: annual school delegates visiting the police college were given an insight into the management of a large secure site and shown the progress on conservation of the Jacobean house. (Photo: Fiona Newton)
In some areas large question marks must however remain. The legislation is optimistic about the benefits to conservation resulting from wider community involvement, and it contains encouraging words on the protection of buildings of local importance. The prologue has been written and the conclusion is awaited.
Education and training are vital in raising the public profile of conservation, and in seeking to encourage enthusiasm and active participation by individuals and communities. Showing communities how heritage has positive relevance to their everyday lives will, however, depend largely on a commitment by local authorities to engage sufficient staff resources to ensure that this can be achieved.
The diverse nature of communities is an important factor which conservation should be taking increasing account of in a rapidly changing world. The conservation message needs to be broadcast in a way which will be understood by all. Confidence in the heritage protection system can best be achieved by fostering knowledge and promoting clear understanding of the aims of conservation, and of its environmental and social benefits among all sectors of society. Aims should certainly be set high, but expectations of what can be achieved need to be tempered with realism.
Increasing emphasis on partnership working is implicit in the revised heritage protection system. Steve Bee illustrated how this can pay substantial dividends in the case of the IHBC and English Heritage. Relationships need to be strengthened and each other’s objectives understood. This will reduce the potential for conflict. Knowledge needs to be shared and duplication of effort avoided. Above all we need to work together to seek additional resources. Geoff Kavanagh
Graham Marshall
Landscape urbanism
Graham Marshall’s was one of the more stimulating, challenging and enjoyable talks of the day. A specialist urban design consultant, Marshall has worked on a number of high-profile projects. He argued the case well for landscape rather than architecture as being more capable for organising the city and successful urbanism. He spoke of landscape as the new public realm, embracing urban design, place making and new urbanism. He, like many, found it frustrating that, in spite of CABE, the Task Force Report (1999), and other outstanding guidance having brought urban design to the fore, as well as a stable, wealthy economy for environmental investment (until recently, at any rate), we still produced poor-quality unsustainable places.
Why? Something to do with the fact that so few of those designing such areas are trained in the specialism, and the influence of highway engineers; and no, there were not any present to hear, learn or be inspired. But it is also to do with what he referred to as the urban karaoke of design frameworks, guides and codes, development briefs, supplementary planning documents and design appraisals, many of which still do not look at the concept of whole place. Money has also not been spent wisely; the country is fatter but not better fed.
Marshall suggested three keys for good urbanism: context not projects; management not design; and landscape not architecture. He saw good management as design in itself, for it is sometimes a concept of change management that is required. For example, in liverpool, where the failings of highway management, which set the template for city centre movement, left landscape and faded structures, and the spaces in
Wey Navigation
(Photo: Robert
between, disconnected. Highway management was to be a major influence in the success or failure of a new improved urbanism. Working with highway engineers to achieve adaptability was a key design change. After a number of landscape and space changing initiatives, including hard-fought-for stepped access to the Metropolitan Cathedral, architecture was now coming back to liverpool. A new and improved urbanism was transforming much of the city centre.
It was a thought-provoking talk based on positive practical experience. Mariana Beadsworth
The local context had been ignored; there was no recognition of history (a road had been built over the remains of the former Abbey’s chapter house); no place for people but lots of space for cars; and no connected street network or convivial public realm. We seem to be very good at turning our backs on public spaces. How different the area might have been if the right urban design principles had been applied to help create a place.
Cowan provided a staggering statistic: 84 per cent of all planning applications were conceived by people with no design training. He then highlighted the difference between development successfully inspired by traditional architecture and cynical fakery. As one developer had said: ‘You like historic buildings: we build historic buildings’.
Rob Cowan illustrated his presentation with many thought-provoking and often hilarious images at breakneck speed, including street furniture jostling for position with pedestrians, supermarkets displaying giant pictures of vegetables in their windows, and toddlers used as a means of traffic calming in the Netherlands. The tools for placemaking, in addition to the familiar means of applying urban design principles through the planning system, included the new techniques of designreviewer and Capacitycheck. Kim Winter
Rob Cowan
Tools in placemaking
Rynd Smith
Challenges in spatial management
Rynd Smith, head of policy and practice for the RTPI, began his talk by emphasising how critical was the relationship between mainstream planning and our heritage. To many directly outside the conservation sphere the value of our built heritage had taken some time to justify its relevance in respect of the wider issues. This was changing significantly.
The new Planning Bill, draft Heritage Protection Bill and draft Marine Bill were a result of the government’s understanding that the planning system as a whole was coming under increasing pressure from a variety of different sources, some of which had not been viewed as particularly relevant in the past. Smith made it clear that he thought the underlining driver for this was climate change, and if not, then it should be. Western society was facing a large challenge created by its consumption of natural resources and was questioning our relationship with others on the planet. The question, ‘how can we become environmentally sustainable without having drastically to change our lives and alter our habits?’ was an important one.
The Climate Change Bill would be the first of its kind in the world, Smith told us, and was a clear indication of the substantial commitment the government was making. The commitments that the bill set out had prompted more detailed guidance such as the Code for Sustainable Homes. The government
From somewhere to anywhere: one of the new neighbours to the site of the former Merton Abbey
Rob Cowan of Urban design Skills is the editor of Context and the author of The Dictionary of Urbanism. His most entertaining presentation began with an examination of the development of an area of south london next to Merton Abbey Mills on the River Wandle. Here, following the industrial revolution, William Morris had manufactured the products he designed as Morris and Company.
The area, the site of the former Merton Abbey, had been developed over the past 20 years or so as four blobs of development. one offered a drive-thru burger facility, but like the others was a dead end; another, a retail park, was protected by tank-trap security barriers; and a third featured a hypermarket, recently revamped at great cost but at no benefit to the public realm. The fourth, a hotel and other smaller developments, constituted one of the UK’s least legible spaces: visitors could see where they wanted to get to, but could not work out how to get there.
that we, as conservation professionals, were fully part of this wider context. We should see the draft Heritage Protection Bill as part of the new toolbox to enable a flexible approach to creating and maintaining sustainable communities. The current situation in the housing market meant new build was unviable and the government’s targets would be heavily affected. Smith saw this as a good example of the realities of policy change and the inevitable long-term implementation. He used the analogy of trying to steer an oil tanker. The dilemma was that conditions change before the action has been completed; that the long-term direction change was affected by the short-term realities. Smith maintained that it remained for us, as professionals, to be vigilant. Rather like hippy parents, we should give good advice, step back, let the ministers make their own mistakes and help pick up the pieces afterwards.
This is my own view and perhaps a little harsh, but Smith’s view is a positive one. As an important part of a huge expertise resource we can advise government and we should continue to make our voices heard. Government can now appreciate the complexities of the planning system. This is down to the part played by the continuing working relationship between the IHBC, RTPI, and other professional institutes who together have consistently replied to government consultation requests. The fruits of these labours can be seen and we must continue to advise the government if we are to be masters of our own destinies.
Smith went on to outline the headlines in the Planning Bill. He said the RTPI was adamant that improving the planning system depended on getting the new national policy statements right. It was imperative that the IHBC, RTPI and the other professional institutes continued to work closely together and engage in
Day school
class: Project
Development and
Area Inverventions
by Ros Kerslake
of the Prince’s
Regeneration Trust
had given a commitment to the building of eco-towns. How would these new settlements interact with existing settlements? Would they be able to stand alone as individual communities or was this an unachievable aspiration? Should we be even thinking in terms of individual communities?
These questions, and many like them, were a result of and a driver for planning professionals to become reflective about their role. Planning was becoming less development control and more a means to connect the construction of new homes with the utilities and services they required in a sustainable way. The fact that the Planning Act 1990 could not deal with this shift had led to the position we were now in. Climate change was not the only consideration when thinking about sustainability. We also had to think about the sustainability of communities in terms of business, social housing and the national economy, for example, which could be seen in the various reports commissioned by the government over the past few years. These reports had shown that there was pressure on the planning system from multifarious directions.
Smith used this introduction to make it clear
Walking groups
around Odiham
were conducted
by local residents.
This group looked
at design and new
build. (Photo:
Fiona Newton)
the policy-writing process. otherwise we would be left behind. In the absence of sound heritage-based guidance within the policy statements the historic built environment would be pushed to the side, in all its guises, when faced with arguments seeking the prevention of climate change or encouraging regeneration.
A particularly contentious issue Smith raised was the introduction of local member review. It was proposed in the new Planning Bill that provisions would be included which would enable local member review bodies to determine appeals. This provision is also included in the draft Heritage Protection Bill and is a real threat to democratic accountability. Fortunately, there is an indication that this provision will be removed from the Bill. Smith cited this as a good example of why we must look with absolute rigour at all government proposals. Happily, Baroness Andrews has since stated in the lords that this provision is to be dropped. He also spoke about the urgent need for a replacement of PPGs 15 and 16 in order that they meet the demands of the 21st century.
Smith reminded us of what we had achieved: making our built heritage part of maintaining and creating sustainable communities. He spoke of the need for us to remain active members in the continuing conversation with our peers to retain that perception of the importance of our heritage as a part of our future. Most important, regardless of the whims of ministers, we must keep the oil tanker that is the planning system on course and away from heritage assets. Sean Rix
building scale and materials. Area evaluation was a fine-grain analysis, also referred to as ‘evidential value’ in Conservation Principles: policies and guidance, and recently published by English Heritage. Area evaluation tended to deal with larger-scale changes in the historic environment.
Cattell used the case study of the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter to illustrate area evaluation in action. He explained that Birmingham City Council recognised the need to safeguard the special character of the area and called in English Heritage to help. English Heritage called up historic maps and used aerial photographs to penetrate the dense urban area of inner Birmingham. As a result of its research, English Heritage came up with 50 buildings representing different patterns of development. It increased its knowledge base by getting access to most buildings and sending out a targeted survey to owners and occupiers. The results helped to highlight the significance of the area, both locally and nationally, and a book has been published. The area evaluation led to 100 new listings, an expanded conservation area and a significance-of-place document. It has helped to underpin the long-term sustainability of the area.
John Cattell: you are not alone. (Photo: Fiona Newton)
John Cattell
Area evaluations
John Cattell, chief building historian at English Heritage, gave a very useful talk with a message that was closely related to the theme of the school: that managing the spaces around buildings in a historic environment could be as important as managing the buildings themselves.
Cattell kicked off by confirming that English Heritage now had an increased commitment to areas, as well as buildings. This was in response to the many regeneration projects around the country, the increasing demand for tall buildings, the Pathfinder Project, and growth areas in general. English Heritage had recognised that there was an increased need for training in area evaluation, particularly as the emerging Heritage Protection Review required that the historic environment be fully understood. Cattell pointed out that area evaluation complemented but was different from the existing concept of historic landscape characterisation.
He explained that area evaluation could be defined as an assessment of the relationship between buildings and spaces, views in and out, the transport infrastructure,
The second case study outlined by Cattell was in South Shoreditch, london. This was a former furniture trade area which was under pressure from the City expansion. English Heritage was again brought on board, this time in partnership with Hackney Council and the Greater london Authority, to help carry out an area evaluation. The result was the publication of Behind the Veneer, detailing the historic character and significance of the area and considering the planning issues associated with redevelopment.
Cattell described area evaluations carried out in Berwick-upon-Tweed and Manningham, Bradford. These were carried out using rapid character assessments, a modified version of the full analysis carried out in larger areas like Birmingham and london. He said that it was important and useful to involve local community groups such as civic societies and building recording groups in the project.
He described another example in Anfield and Breckfield, liverpool. It was recognised that there was a need for a methodology for the development of
Day School
planning authorities have policies in place designed to aid the decision makers, these are often so numerous and wide-ranging that they do not facilitate quality decisions as intended.
Members and officers often deal with applications and developments in isolation, and the leap between the place being created and the wider picture or context can often be too complex or difficult to appreciate. Members and officers have the additional challenge of meeting governmental targets and the demands of developers. The consequence can be ill-considered decisions and the creation of unsustainable places. The key is to understand how to deliver design policies successfully and to recognise the benefits of integrating heritage into new development. This, Nigel Barker told us, is the aim of the Building in Context toolkit.
The definition of context used by the BiC toolkit is the definition of the historic environment in Power of Place, where context is described as ‘an irreplaceable asset’ that ‘we squander or degrade at our peril’. While other pressures have the potential to subsume the heritage value of a place, the toolkit seeks to bring heritage to the forefront of the decision-making process, enabling a local authority to determine what is crucial about it and what elements of their historic environment they need to protect from inappropriate development.
Delegates visit
Guildford Castle,
founded by
William the
Peter Mills)
ordinary suburban housing in the area as substantial demolition was being proposed. The Informed Conservation series of publications by English Heritage was used as a model, including the methodology template for area evaluation, which can be adapted for use in many locations. Cattell indicated that the sorts of issues encountered in liverpool were likely to be similar to those found in other housing growth areas like the Thames Gateway. Suburbs were historically important but were undergoing considerable change, so English Heritage was increasing their study. English Heritage was currently helping with the government’s Pathfinder initiative. This had not been as quick as had first been hoped but it had now started on the second tier of ‘Pathfollower authorities’.
Cattell took the opportunity to publicise the English Heritage Informed Conservation series. The publications can be bought at ehsales@gillards. com or by contacting 01761 452966. He told the audience to look out for Understanding Historic Areas, due to be published later in 2008. This will complement the existing English Heritage documents and be of great use to those doing conservation area character assessments. He advised the audience to visit www.helm.org.uk for additional help and advice on managing the historic environment.
We are grateful to John Cattell for giving us a very useful overview of how important area analysis is in the management of the historic environment and how to go about undertaking an area evaluation. There is a high degree of flexibility in the methods that can be adopted but the findings need to be appropriately packaged, not just for those in control, but also for the wider local community. It is reassuring to know that if an area evaluation is deemed necessary, there is already a great deal of useful guidance from English Heritage and that we are not alone. Peter Mills
Nigel Barker
Building in Context toolkit                                            The Building in Context toolkit, which follows
The problem with new development within historic     on from the English Heritage and CABE document
settings is that all too often the heritage takes a     published in 2001, was developed in the south east
back seat to seemingly more pressing issues, such as     region of English Heritage. It was developed as a
providing housing and employment. While most local     result of lessons learned from an individual training
event organised for a local planning authority which had regeneration as its principal aim. Using a capacity building grant, English Heritage commissioned the Kent Architecture Centre to work with the local authorities in the region and a network of other partners to develop a training programme which would be robust and relevant. The aim was to demystify the language that professionals use, to help members feel more confident in their decisions, and to reinforce their existing knowledge.
during the development of the pilot programme mistakes were made and lessons learnt. For example, a neutral location for the training session helps prevent local politics taking over. But some fundamentals were established. An exhibition illustrating new development schemes on small boards that could be used to decorate the room or be placed on tables was found to assist discussion, but a site visit was essential to enable members to understand how their view of what constitutes context correlated with actuality. In the final training model each event is bespoke, being developed for a particular local authority or client, making it more meaningful to those involved.
The Building in Context toolkit has since been rolled out over the country as a series of taster events – 16 in seven regions, involving 90 local planning authorities. The knowledge base of building design and heritage among our design and heritage champions is consequently growing. It is hoped that there will soon be an accredited framework of training run by local architecture and built environment centres in each region. Further information can be found at www.building-in-context.org. Alison Cummings
example, be an engineer or a solicitor.
linscott did advise that inspectors were being trained in specific areas and the inspectorate was working with English Heritage and CABE to provide inspectors with the skills considered essential for their work. As representatives of the secretary of state, consistency across the breadth of inspectorate decisions was considered to be very important. This was believed to be demonstrated by the very low levels of appeals overturned by subsequent legal challenge.
Proposed improvements in the planning white paper should result in greater proportionality in the appeal process, reducing the amount of material that is produced for the simpler appeals. There are also proposals to invite cooperation between appellants and local planning authorities to agree and fix dates for hearings and inquiries. of particular interest is linscott’s belief that not enough opportunities are made of the costs regime. His belief is that it is rarely used, whereas there are likely to be many cases where costs could have been successfully obtained against the opposing party for unreasonable behaviour.
Ben Linscott: consistency is the key (Photo: Fiona Newton).
Ben Linscott
Planning trends and placemaking
Ben linscott, assistant director for planning at the Planning Inspectorate, provided an overview of the inspectorate’s service. It employs 340 salaried inspectors and a further 74 on a consultancy basis. Between 40 and 50 inspectors deal with the listed building casework.
In the year of 2007/08 the inspectorate received 22,000 appeals. Five per cent of them were dealt with through public inquiries, 16 per cent by hearings, and the remaining 79 per cent through the written representation procedure. linscott explained how the inspectorate worked on the three basic principles established by the Franks Report of the 1950s: openness, fairness and impartiality.
Amazingly (or worryingly), there is no legal requirement for inspectors to be experts in the particular fields of the cases that they consider. An inspector assessing a listed building consent appeal will not necessarily be trained in building conservation or architectural history, and could, for
Inspectors not only deal with appeals resulting from the development control process but are also at the coalface of the local development framework process. The very recent PPS12 has re-emphasised the importance of plan soundness, the tests of which are rigorously being applied by the inspectorate.
The tests are whether the processes are justified; the assessment of the effect of the proposed policy; and demonstration of consistency with national policy. The test of soundness has resulted in a very significant difference between the old local plan system and local development frameworks. Under the current system there is no guarantee of plan soundness until it has been formally inspected, so local development frameworks do not gather weight as their predecessors did. Jason Clemons
Understanding lime
The Understanding lime seminar was led by the chairman of the Building limes Forum, Ian Brocklebank, assisted by conservation builder John lloyd.
The seminar focused on the make-up of limes (pure and hydraulic) and cements, demonstrated by the lime spectrum set out on a simple graph. Burnt pure chalk or limestone (Cao) is known as free lime. This can be slaked with a lot of water to produce a putty, or with a little water to produce hydrated lime powder. Burnt impure chalk and limestones (with clay and/or silica sands) have to be ground to a powder and form a hydraulic lime. The fewer impurities, the weaker the lime. If there is less than eight per cent of impurities the lime will be feebly hydraulic; 10–15 per cent moderately hydraulic; 15–25 per cent eminently hydraulic; and 25–45 per cent a natural cement. Compressive strength, brittleness, setting speed and, most critically, impermeability increase through the spectrum.
during the discussion, it became obvious that historic mortars were likely to have been feebly hydraulic, due to the lime becoming contaminated by impurities during the slaking process. Such mortars would also have been favoured by bricklayers as being easier to use. In contrast, modern lime mortars are produced by different processes (mostly using gas to heat, rather than charcoal or coal) and are ‘too pure’ as a result. Pure limes can often be improved (and possibly made more authentic) by additives to make them feebly hydraulic. Oliver Chapman
Community-led regeneration
The stockbroker belt close to london, with a vibrant local economy and sustained high pressure for development, may not at first sight be an obvious candidate for community-led regeneration. Two projects defy this perception.
Caterham Barracks
Caterham Barracks was first reported in Context 69 (March 2001) when development was under way. Seven years on there is the opportunity to see the situation at first hand and judge whether the initial plaudits still ring true.
The barracks closed in 1995. They remained vacant and largely off limits until acquired by linden Homes in 1998. linden commissioned John Thompson and Partners to produce a master plan for the site. david Harrison of John Thompson and Partners provided a succinct introduction to his firm’s involvement. Cantering through a wide selection of slides, he illustrated how the master plan for the site was shaped.
What is novel about this development is the level of community involvement throughout the project and continuing. It started with a five-day series of workshops and feedback sessions involving over 1,000 people. This dialogue continued through a series of working groups and some 50 meetings prior to formal planning proposals being submitted. Now the Caterham Barracks Community Trust manages the land and buildings provided to the community as part of the section 106 agreement.
visiting the site on a balmy summer’s day provided a chance to see how the vision has translated into reality.
Caterham Skate exterior
delegates had the opportunity to find out for themselves with Ivan Ball (former linden Homes project director and resident) as guide. First impressions were that the site knits well into the surrounding neighbourhood in its built form and pedestrian routes. The cricket pitch at the entrance provides an informal public amenity space – an ideal spot to pause for the IHBC picnic – and an area for more formal recreation. As the cricketers padded up, it was time to move on and take a more detailed look at the rest of the development.
The development, now complete, comprises a mix of housing and employment uses. Some of the short-term lets using temporary facilities have become permanent occupants and expanded. Employment is concentrated on the southern edge of the site, but also sprinkled through the residential area, where existing buildings have been adapted mainly for leisure facilities. There are 348 residential units, 96 (27.5 per cent) of them affordable (of which 83 are for rent and 13 shared equity). The affordable housing is well integrated and there is no obvious distinction in the quality of design and materials used.
chapel into an indoor skateboard park, The Skaterham. Sheltered housing is also provided.
The one disappointment is the supermarket. Contrary to the master planners’ aspirations, a standard stock solution has been adopted. A more creative supermarket design and associated public space fell victim to market forces. While one could quibble about some elements of the development, my overall impression is that it works as a living community. There is pride among the residents, a sense of place and lasting community spirit.
the Spike, Guildford
The Spike: the name derives from the instrument used for oakum ‘picking’, done by visiting vagrants to earn their keep.
The building known as The Spike is a much smaller project but perhaps no less remarkable for the community effort and outcome.
In 1994, St luke’s Hospital, occupying the site of the Guildford Union Workhouse, came forward for redevelopment. Planning permission was granted to Crest Nicholson for a two-phase development of some 230 houses, retaining a number of the more notable buildings. The land occupied by The Spike was bound up in a section 106 agreement to facilitate the construction of a new community hall, to be part funded by the development. The value of The Spike was underestimated and as a result it had been scheduled for demolition. This changed in 1999 when, following strong community interest, the building was listed.
Casual wards were created specifically to cater for vagrants (as distinct from the general poor, who had a more permanent place in the workhouse). vagrants were only permitted to stay one day a month in the casual ward and had to earn their keep. The jobs included grain grinding, oakum picking, woodcutting and stone breaking. oakum was used as a caulking material. It was made by unravelling old rope, a task often carried out using a spike – hence the connotation of the name.
Following its listing, protracted discussions took place, culminating in a self-help proposal from local residents under the umbrella of the Charlotteville Jubilee Trust. The council eventually took over the freehold ownership of the site in 2005, with the condition of the building becoming a going concern. The trust’s proposals were developed to provide a community hall and heritage area covering the
Caterham Barracks guided tour (Photo: John Townsend)
In my opinion the conversion of the existing barrack blocks has managed to capture the sense of place while accommodating the new use. Welcome too is the successful creation of new urban spaces – the spaces in between.
A conscious attempt has been made to minimise signs on the road network and reduce car dependency. A local bus service serves the development, partly subsidised by the residents, who in return get travel concessions. Strict covenants are in place controlling matters such as the amount of parking provided. These appear to work reasonably well.
Young and old are catered for. There is a well-used centrally located children’s play space. Youth facilities are provided in the novel conversion of the listed
majority of the east wing. A Heritage lottery Fund grant of just over £1 million was secured, a lease was signed in 2006 and the necessary consents were granted in 2007.
delegates had the opportunity to view the project in the final stages prior to its official opening, with volunteers kindly giving up their time to show us around. A dedicated heritage education space within the building shows how vagrants and casual workers were treated under the New Poor laws. The vagrants’ waiting room and wash room have been recreated and refurbished. The Spike also provides a meeting and community centre for local residents, and it is intended to create a children’s nursery to provide much-needed childcare support.
At both Caterham Barracks and The Spike the local community has played an important role in determining the shape of the development. The result in both cases is a much-loved and cherished environment. John Townsend
external changes to the building that alter its historic, landscape or wildlife value will be allowed without written consent from Natural England. To achieve this, an after-use is expected to have a continued connection to agriculture, or other agreed sensitive and unconverted use, while under a management agreement.
In addition to the capital grants available for the repair and restoration of buildings, the HlS and the Entry level Scheme (ElS) provide for an annual maintenance option for ‘traditional farm buildings’. This amounts to a five-year grant for ElS-funded projects and 10 years for the HlS. This, a real added bonus for the scheme, has undoubtedly spurred many farmers into taking positive action to conserve their farm buildings.
This programme of grants is running from 2007 to 2013, with a budget of £8 million nationally. The seminar organiser, Carole Ryan, posed the question of how useful the scheme is or will be in your own area. If you have examples of success stories or have been involved in the grant scheme in any way, please contact Carole Ryan at c.ryan@bournemouth.ac.uk. David Kincaid
Exterior of the Watts Gallery (Photo: Robert Walker)
Restoring historic traditional buildings
The restoration of historic traditional buildings is possible under the Higher level Stewardship scheme (HlS) operated by Natural England. Environmental Stewardship is a new agri-environment scheme which provides funding to farmers and other land managers in England who carry out the environmental management of their land effectively.
The scheme is intended to build on the recognised success of the Environmentally Sensitive Areas Scheme and the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Its primary objectives are to conserve wildlife and promote biodiversity; to maintain and enhance landscape quality and character; to protect the historic environment and natural resources; to promote public access and understanding of the countryside; and to protect natural resources.
The restoration of farm buildings under the HlS is intended to help ensure the conservation and upkeep of buildings that contribute to the character of the landscape and are of historical interest. Funding will be targeted at those buildings of most importance on landscape or historic grounds, providing that they represent good value for money. Building restoration projects need to be part of a wider HlS agreement and can not be undertaken as stand-alone projects. Projects are measured against how they meet wider environmental stewardship objectives, including contribution to landscape character, value for wildlife and accessibility for the public.
As the HlS is an agri-environment scheme, the focus is on farm buildings in the countryside. In terms of after-use, Natural England’s priority is to ensure that the character of the building (inside and out) is maintained, along with any existing value as a wildlife habitat (such as for barn owls or bats). No internal or
The Watts Gallery and Cemetery Chapel
People often wonder why the Watts Gallery exists in a place like Compton, tucked away in a one-time rural village near Guildford. George Frederic Watts (1817– 1904) occupies a special place in the history of British painting. Famous in his day as a painter and sculptor, he gained the nickname of ‘England’s Michelangelo’. His aim was to reinvent British history painting in a grand manner, making images that were both uplifting and thought provoking. He believed that art should be accessible to everyone, not just the rich, so he gave many of his pictures to public galleries, helping to found the Tate Gallery in 1897. Relatively late in life Watts took up sculpture, producing a relatively small number of outstanding works. These include the Clytie, Physical Energy, and the magisterial memorial statue of Tennyson, now placed outside lincoln Cathedral. Watts resided in london, but had connections with
Compton through friends Andrew and May Hichens who lived in the village at Monkshatch. In 1890 Watts’ health was beginning to suffer from the cold winters, and the smog and pollution of the metropolis. At the instigation of their friends, Watts and his devoted second wife Mary stayed at Monkshatch over that winter to see if the Surrey climate would aid his health. The winter months passed well for them and the idea that they should have their own ‘cottage’ emerged. Mary seems to have been the driving force behind this.
A piece of land was purchased from the squire of loseley and Ernest George was asked to draw up some plans. The house was begun in April the following year. They decided to call it limnerslease, limner being the old English word for painter and lease being from the old English word leasen, which meant to glean: ‘our hope being that there were golden years to be gleaned in this new home,’ as Mary wrote. To them it was their country cottage; to us today it is an enormous mock-Tudor house which now quite comfortably provides three private dwellings. Grade II listed, the house can be seen perched on the hillside from the grounds of the Watts Gallery.
during the 1990s a wide-ranging repair programme was carried out for both the interior and exterior of the chapel and parts of the graveyard, including the cloisters where Watts is buried. This was instigated by the parish council, which is responsible for the upkeep. The borough council provided extensive support and achieved Heritage lottery funding, working with Surrey County Council and English Heritage.
A pottery, also established by Mary Watts to support local craft skills, is now used as shops/studios at the entrance to the gallery car park. For those who remember, the ‘intermission’ film used on BBC television in the 1950s and early 60s was of a potter’s hands at his wheel. This was filmed at the Watts pottery.
Watts Gallery
The Watts Gallery: the painter insisted that his work be viewed under natural light. (Photo: Watts Gallery)
Watts Cemetery Chapel
Mary Watts was a keen supporter of the Home Arts and Industries Association, founded in the mid 1880s, dedicated to the revival of village handicrafts and providing skilled work for the rural poor. She set up a pottery industry using clay beds in the grounds of limnerslease. When in 1895 the parish council purchased a new plot of land for village burials, the Watts enthusiastically offered the village the gift of a new mortuary chapel. designed by Mary Watts and decorated under her direction using unskilled villagers as labourers and craftsmen, the Grade l listed chapel is a remarkable feat. A kiln was established in the grounds of limnerlease for the production of the terracotta tiles that decorate the exterior. The chapel was dedicated in 1898 but the interior was not decorated until 1901, again under Mary Watts’ direction, using unskilled labour.
Mary Watts continued her enterprising pottery business, founding the Compton Potters Art Guild in 1902. The success of the business meant accommodation was needed for her young workers. This led to a project dear to her heart: the creation of a purpose-built gallery within view of limnerslease to her husband’s paintings, with a hostel attached for her young potters.
The architect was a local man, Christopher Hatton Turnor, an admirer of lutyens and voysey, and reportedly a friend of Thomas Edison, founder of the Edison Portland Cement Company. An enthusiast for cement, then a new material, Turnor designed the rendered concrete building around a central courtyard flanked by double-arched porches. Built in 1903-4, the gallery is a long, low building that enjoys many arts and crafts flourishes. It is top lit to honour Watts’ insistence that his work be viewed under natural light.
Watts died in July 1904, just two months after the completion of the initial gallery. After his death, Mary
Watts Chapel (Photo: Graham Foster)
honoured her husband by adding the main gallery and sculpture gallery. In 1922 Guildford architect lawrence Powell, a former chairman of the trustees of Watts Gallery, excavated the courtyard to build the sunken gallery.
The Watts Gallery, Grade II* listed, remains one of the few purpose-built, one-man galleries in Britain. It is a perfect example of the aesthetically pleasing but pragmatic design style of the arts and crafts movement. It is in urgent need of repair to mend the leaking fabric and to provide an appropriate environment for the collection.
There is an ambitious programme to restore the building, conserve the collection, extend the learning programme, and establish the Watts Gallery as the centre for the exploration of victorian art, social history and craft. Planning permission and listed building consent has been granted for the adaptation and expansion of the gallery, and a £4.3 million grant secured from the Heritage lottery Fund after being the runner-up in last year’s BBC ‘Restoration’ series. Work is due to start this autumn, during which time the gallery will be closed. John Townsend
Nature and Tradition: arts and crafts architecture in and
around Guildford, The Arts and Crafts Movement of
Surrey (2002), ISBN 0 9537615 1 7
Watts Chapel, veronica Franklin Gould (1993),
ISBN 0 9515811 1 2
Surrey: Buildings of England Series, Nairn and Pevsner
(1987), ISBN 0 14071021 3.
Compton Parish Council: www.compton-surrey.co.uk
Sarah Lupton
for the Gus Astley Student Award. The breadth of subject matter covered was a microcosm of the breadth of interests and skills found within our membership.
Presentations ranged from Gus Astley Student Award first prize winner david Hills’ explanation of the issues surrounding the listing and development of management guidelines for Chamberlain, Powell and Bon’s 1960s Barbican development in london to Aiswarya Tipnis’ colourful description of the characterisation and repair of the area around the former colonial Crawford market hall (Mahatma Jyotiba Phule) in Mumbai.
Emily Tracey described her work researching building stones in Scotland using a rectified image of part of a building with digital overlays, showing different levels of stone decay. Sarah lupton compared two methods of metric survey which she had learned from scratch to enable comparison. leading a lively discussion on internal and external perceptions of the sector, victoria James asked how the heritage sector saw itself after ten years of the dCMS. Emily Gee’s thoroughly researched and complete thematic review of purpose-built single women’s accommodation was an absorbing insight into architecture for a particular section of society.
The fringe school was a fascinating collection of presentations and the quality was exceptional throughout. The information and CPd value provided by the fringe exceeded that available at many costly conferences. If this standard is maintained into 2009, the fringe should certainly be the first choice for annual school delegates looking for a stimulating, enlightening and varied afternoon. Fiona Newton
IHBC fringe school
The first IHBC fringe school took place on the first afternoon of this year’s annual school. It provided an opportunity for the presentation of new research, new approaches and new talent. The speakers were drawn mainly from those who had entered their student work
The IHBC would like to thank the sponsors of this year’s Annual School: Clement Windows Group Ltd, The Conservation Studio, The D&M Planning Partnership, Heritage Initiatives and Murphy Associates, and to thank English Heritage for its support.
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Murphy "N Associates
D & M
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Town Planning & Historic Environment Consultants