2008 Yearbook

i n r e v i e w 21 Consultations review 2008: A year of change, and consolidation Fiona Newton: IHBC Projects Officer The level of consultation activity of the Institute is substantial and has been steadily increasing. In line with the Institute’s wide remit across the factors shaping historic environment conservation, it is felt important that we comment not only on those proposals which are directly heritage-related, but also on those where there will be a clear heritage impact which we may wish to mitigate. The consultations process has until recently relied on the hard work of a volunteer consultations secretary. This was a very onerous position requiring the incumbent to read (and understand) large amounts of text and then formulate the response, to an often tight deadline, feeding in input from the consultation panel. The Institute is therefore very grateful for the professionalism and commitment of, first Dave Chetwyn, and then Karen Holyoake in carrying out this vital role over the past few years. With the Institute’s aspiration to engage with the whole spectrum of relevant consultations, it became increasingly apparent that this role could no longer fall to a volunteer officer, and in May 2007 we circulated a tender brief to take on a paid consultant. As a result James Caird was appointed as Consultant Consultations Co-ordinator and has thrown himself wholeheartedly into the action. His professionalism and dedication have already reaped dividends; in the three months to the end of October 2007 alone the IHBC was able to respond to 11 consultations. In legislative terms 2007 has been a year of immense potential change. An unprecedented number of relevant white papers has emerged along with an associated raft of consultations, including householder development, appeals and fees. The IHBC has responded constructively on these and other consultations. The Planning White Paper published in May 2007 had two principal thrusts. Firstly, it provided detailed discourse on the proposed creation of the Infrastructure Planning Commission for major national projects. Secondly, a number of reforms to the planning system were proposed, some of which were being separately consulted on concurrently. It was noted in our response that although the white paper acknowledged many heritage issues, it did not grasp the obvious opportunities to demonstrate co-ordination between the heritage and planning white papers. The Heritage White Paper claimed to be putting heritage at the heart of planning, but the Planning White Paper did not appear to be following this through. The long awaited publication by Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Welsh Assembly Government of the Heritage White Paper: Heritage Protection for the 21st Century was marked by the swift distribution of IHBC’s membership- consultation document. This was a document aimed not at giving members the answers or formulating their view for them, but at asking questions to help members think about the wider issues. The document clearly presented each of the aims of The Heritage White Paper and how these were to be achieved at both strategic and more practical level. It then went on to voice a series of searching questions and challenges which would be pertinent if the proposals were to succeed. The document was widely praised, not only by our members, but also by those involved in other heritage and place-making organisations. Indeed, many local groups and voluntary organisations also found it of great assistance in helping them think through the complex array of proposals. The multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral emphasis placed by the IHBC on working in the historic environment was exemplified and highlighted by the response made to the White Paper jointly with RTPI and RICS. The specialist knowledge of each organisation brought together the IHBC’s direct experience of conservation practice with the RTPI‘s understanding of planning practice – especially the marine dimensions – with the RICS adding the weight of the wider commercial aspects. One of the principal values of the response document lies in bringing the consolidated weight of three institutes to bear on the proposals; the combined cohort represents some 150,000 built-environment professionals. Global warming has serious implications for us all, not only as individuals, but increasingly as professionals, and the decisions we make. The IHBC has welcomed