2008 Yearbook

18 Y e a r b o o k 2 0 0 8 BUILDING · CONSERVATION INSTITUTE · OF · HISTORIC · which provides a new focus on conservation outputs. Similarly the forthcoming Heritage Counts (England’s audit of the historic environment) will take climate change as its theme. This must provide substantial information and assessment to inform and advocate conservation as a central platform for modern social survival. The problems are on our doorstep, and anything less than substantial outputs from all our governments, national and local, will represent a failure for the entire sector. The IHBC For the IHBC, with a staff of just 3.5 (compared, for example, to nearly 2,000 at English Heritage), our contributions to the sector might be presumed to be modest. However, we benefit from our huge and credible voluntary input across the professional interests in conservation, while our profile is rising rapidly. Our membership-drive alone already involves circulating some 45,000 membership leaflets, and this is only the start. With the approval of our new corporate plan at our 2007 AGM, the Institute’s many strands of interest are now consensual and relevant. Our character and our ‘unique selling point’ is defined there as: the professional body supporting specialist interests in the conservation of historic places. It is multi-disciplinary in character, interdisciplinary in scope, and pan-disciplinary in aspiration. The importance of promoting our role as a broadly-based, pan- professional historic environment body was further re-affirmed in recent policy drawn up by English Heritage. This policy recognised the significance of an authoritative and appropriate professional body or group to lead the sector: Its remit would primarily address the setting, advocacy and monitoring of principles and standards for the diversity of professional practitioners who practice in the historic environment. It would also encourage co-operation and co-ordination of training and accreditation across primary professions that may be represented by other bodies. With substantial formal representation across the professions involved in historic environment conservation – from archaeologists and engineers to planners, architects, surveyors and project managers – clearly the IHBC fits the bill. Add to this our close involvement with the pan-professional body for place- making, Urban Design Alliance (UDAL, the chairmanship of which we relinquish this year) and our contributions to the pan-professional built-environment accreditation initiative, the Edinburgh Group, the IHBC is perfectly placed to address the challenges that English Heritage sees. That we can do this without undermining the independence or specialist skills that other professional bodies represent, provides a special endorsement of our model. Of course, challenges for conservation are especially significant under the new legislative arrangements attached to Heritage Protection Reform, as noted above. Here we have already made huge contributions through helping to shape a joint response with the other major professional bodies, the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (see www.ihbc.org.uk ). Significantly, our charitable and constitutional focus on the historic environment was fully respected by our partners, indicating how we already address the second part of English Heritage’s above-mentioned vision of a professional body: The role of [that] professional institute should be distinct from that of associations that represent service providers or particular activities or interests, although they will frequently all work together. The credibility of the way in which we work together to understand and manage the historic environment will be enhanced if the various responsibilities of those involved are clearly defined and represented. This focus on specialists working together, informed by wider professional priorities – team‑working – expresses well the relevance of the IHBC’s pan- professional standard represented by our Areas of Competence, discussed below, and our members’ capacity to promote the integrated teamwork that underpins modern conservation services. The HPR-related unification of designation and consent will help further to integrate the many professional interests in historic places, helping all to work better together as teams of specialists with interests in historic places, whether as archaeologist, architectural historian, urban designer, highway engineer or community planner. Such legislative reform cannot be allowed to be used as a pretext to dilute the spectrum of specialist skills on which modern conservation depends. IHBC Council meeting in Edinburgh in September 2007: the quarterly meetings are more usually held in London and are attended by elected officers and branch representatives, all of whom are volunteers.