City of Winchester Trust
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Winchester Future 50 training day 21 September 2018

Attended for CWT by Mary Tiles, Penny Patton, Michael Etherington, Kathy Edwards, Liz Kitchner.

This event was run by Historic England who provided the grant that WCC is using to run the Future 50 pilot project for a new methodology for Conservation Area review. Also attending were city council employees in their official capacity, city council and other volunteers.

The afternoon was on photographing buildings and the morning was on things planners and others need to think about when dealing with historic buildings, this includes listed buildings but also covered construction of a local list.

Morning

The Presentation by Martin Small covered the history of legislation on conservation/preservation and the way in which this is currently embedded in NPPF. So he covered the aspects that planners are required to consider when dealing with listed buildings or conservation areas. This was a very detailed presentation but its emphasis was around one key concept - significance.

This is a core concept for Historic England and it occurs throughout the relevant legislation. Listed buildings must be preserved from harm to their significance and conservation requires that no damage is done to the significance of heritage assets.

Historic England thinks in terms of a heritage cycle

  • Understanding of x's significance leads to x being valued
  • X being valued leads to x being cared for
  • X being cared for leads to x being enjoyed
  • X being enjoyed leads to deeper understanding of x's significance

The criteria used for listing are

  • Age and rarity
  • Aesthetic merits
  • Selectivity only significant examples are listed
  • National interest (covers the distinctiveness of regional buildings)
  • National importance
  • -usually a building must be more than 30 years old

92% of buildings listed are listed grade II

Since 1990 Local Authorities are required to propose measures for the preservation and enhancement of listed buildings. Local Plans are required to include a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment defined as being formed by the interaction between peoples and places over time.

Neighbourhood plans are said to be relevant places for designating heritage assets which are not listed buildings.

In planning decisions buildings with greater significance should have greater weight placed on their conservation. Any changes should be refused if there would be substantial harm to that significance unless this can be outweighed by a public benefit. The substantial harm may be harm to the setting of a building as well as to the building itself. (Note: Winchester has its own Historical Environment Record). The 2017 list of heritage at risk had WCC with 15 in its area (but this is thought to need revision.)

Significance

Significance (important in NPPF) is the quality of being worthy of attention and involves some interpretation of why the past is important to us and of what about it is important. One has to ask why is x important? Why is it of special interest? - this refer to archeological, historical, architectural or artistic interest and the question is about what might be important to future generations as indicative of what mattered to current and previous generations.

It is the sum of the heritage values attached to a place and it thus requires us to think systematically about places. The value might be as providing evidence of previous uses, it might be for how the past informs the present, it might be for the way something has been experienced in the past and is experienced now, it might be for having communal value, or it might have shaped the memories of local or non-local people.

Assessment of the significance of a building or place thus involves quite a lot of research in order to create a narrative about it.

The Second part of the morning session was on Local Lists by Ron Lloyd-Sweet

A Local Authority needs to be aware of the assets in its district in order to be able to avoid or minimise conflicts between the demands of conservation and any aspects of a planning proposal. Here the Historical Environmental Record needs to be used and is a potential asset. Its heritage assets may be on a local list and will extend beyond the listed buildings. Local lists are therefore important and should be consulted when planning applications are submitted.

A local list:- identifies key assets, helps understanding of their significance, is important for planning, provides criteria for its use, helps robust decision making, informs non-planning initiatives (such as grant applications).

A suggested procedure for setting up a local list can be found in an Historic England Advice Document which can be downloaded from https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/local-heritage-listing-advice-note-7/

It was emphasised that ideally the construction of a local list should have community engagement but that can be very time consuming and labour intensive, so simpler and quicker methods might need to be used. Initially for Winchester it looks as if there may be council volunteers starting the process.

Afternoon

Architectural Photography presented by James Davies.

This contained practical advice and stressed means of keeping verticals truly vertical, the use of cropping rather than getting it right on the camera/phone screen, the importance of light an even light better than lots of shadows etc. Participants were then sent out to the the cathedral close for half an hour to have a go. Some of their efforts were then displayed and discussed.


Mary Tiles
26/09/18




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