2008 Yearbook

i n r e v i e w 15 Chairman’s pages Dave Chetwyn, IHBC Chair Heritage continues to be a powerful force for change, helping towns, cities and rural areas to reinvent themselves and adapt to modern needs. Historic buildings and environments are a powerful tool for fostering economic development, diversity, small business development, innovation, skills, social cohesion and more sustainable urban environments. Yet there is still a perception by some that heritage protection and other aspects of planning control are a barrier to economic development. This polarisation of viewpoints is apparent in the tension underlying much current legislative reform. The Planning Bill attempts to reconcile deregulation with community engagement. The Government’s housing agenda seeks to balance mass delivery with better design standards. The review of permitted development for householders started as a deregulation exercise, but morphed into a more constructive simplifying exercise. The need to address global warming provides another tension with wider social and economic policy. All built environment and place- making professions, including heritage professions, are having to adapt their skills and approaches in response to this. Global warming has to be one of the primary concerns for the heritage sector over the next decade and beyond. In particular there is a pressing need for research into the role of built heritage in creating more sustainable urban places. Such tensions are largely absent from the Draft Heritage Bill which focuses on the basic administration of heritage protection. The question here is more one of resources, especially for local authorities who will take on new roles. We remain concerned over the inconsistent approach to heritage protection in different local authorities. IHBC continues to promote the message that strong building conservation and urban design services are a key part of delivering sustainable economic growth and regeneration and creating sustainable communities. It is no coincidence that the most dynamic and successful local authorities are usually the ones that take place-making skills most seriously. This year, we have employed a consultant, James Caird, to take on the ever increasing work load for dealing with government consultations. IHBC has responded to a range of consultations and white papers and is now monitoring the progress of relevant bills through parliament. The Institute is working with a range of other organisations from different sectors to influence national policy and legislation. For the heritage white paper, IHBC submitted a joint response with RTPI and RICS. The Institute also continues to lobby on reducing VAT for building repairs. This lobbying and influencing role is central to representing the interests of our members. In addition to the high level of legislative and policy reform, 2007 saw changes in each of the UK nations in terms of governance. Northern Ireland is restructuring the delivery of planning and heritage services, shifting decision-making to a more localised level. This is well overdue. The Scottish Parliament has a new Scottish Nationalist minority administration. The Welsh Assembly has a new administration after several weeks of negotiation between different parties. And Gordon Brown took over at Westminster, appointing new ministers for communities and local government, and for culture, media and sport. We are seeking meetings with the new ministers in the three nations. All of this has implications for IHBC. Our members are delivering the services on the ground, whether in the public, private or voluntary sectors. They already have to balance environment, economic development and community interests, and develop workable solutions to maintaining and transforming historic environments. This is not just through administering heritage controls. IHBC members have delivered hundreds of millions of pounds worth of enhancement and regeneration works. This has required the sector to develop new skills in putting together funding bids, bringing together partnerships, managing projects and engaging communities and stakeholders. IHBC continues to focus on skills and standards of service. Refinements to the way membership applications are considered, together with the CPD requirement for members and the code of conduct help ensure high standards are maintained. Regional and national training and CPD events also contribute to skills development.