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News

News and updates on the Giving to Heritage programme


Heritage Update #290 is out!

November 21, 2014

Heritage Update #290 is out!

The latest Heritage Update e-bulletin is now out Friday 21st November and emailed directly to our subscribers.

Heritage Update is our voice to, and for, the sector. The popular fortnightly e-bulletin offers policy updates, news, a consultation round-up, events / course listings and job vacancies. Update reaches an estimated 14000 mailboxes in the UK and internationally, with readers as far afield as Abu Dhabi, Antarctica, Istanbul and California.

The most recent back copy (7th November) and all other archive copies can be downloaded here. To subscribe and receive a copy directly to your inbox two weeks before it’s available online, please sign-up here

Click here to read #290

Heritage Update #290

Sussex Heritage Trust becomes a member of The Alliance

November 20, 2014

Sussex Heritage Trust becomes a member of The Alliance

We are delighted to announce that Sussex Heritage Trust has become the latest member organisation of The Heritage Alliance taking our membership to an all-time high of 97!

Founded in 1977, Sussex Heritage Trust works to preserve, improve and encourage the appreciation of the architectural and natural heritage of Sussex. It achieves this through taking an active interest in Sussex conservation issues, reporting on Buildings at Risk, working with local authorities, and running the Sussex Heritage Trust Awards 2014.

For more information about Sussex Heritage Trust, visit their website. Our members form a key part of our organisation without whom we simply would not exist.

Thanks to the support of our members, like the Sussex Heritage Trust, we act as a powerful advocate for England’s heritage and lobby for legislation and policies to ensure the benefits of heritage – social, economic, educational and environmental – are realised by Government, communities and individuals. For more information about becoming a member organisation of The Alliance see our website.


Heritage and Identity: What makes you who you are?

Heritage and Identity: What makes you who you are?

Is heritage just a socially acceptable version of tribalism? Has social media produced a culture of ‘place-less’ relationships? These were some of the central themes explored in a major public debate on heritage and identity held at Newcastle University on Wednesday 5th November 2014.

The questions of how heritage affects people’s sense of identity and what heritage a North Easterner or Geordie would single out as shaping their sense of self were also on the agenda for the debate. The event was sponsored by specialist heritage insurer Ecclesiastical and held in partnership with University of Newcastle’s The International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies.

The discussion was chaired by Peter Stone, Head of the University’s School of Arts and Cultures. The audience of academics and heritage specialists heard from panel members Graham Bell, Europa Nostra Council and Director North of England Civic Trust, Izzy Mohammed, Audience Engagement Coordinator, Library of Birmingham and Dr Rhiannon Mason, Senior Lecturer in Museum, Gallery, and Heritage Studies. Their substantial presentations are online here.

Attendees, readers of the Newcastle Journal and local MPs were invited to respond to 4 questions about symbols and characteristics of the North East in the Journal’s piece http://tinyurl.com/oqp2w67 by 10th November.

The Debate series forms part of the Alliance’s #heritagedebate series. For more information about our previous events across England, and to download speeches from the event see The Heritage Alliance website. The Chairman of The Heritage Alliance, Loyd Grossman, also explains why the Alliance’s latest debate on heritage and identity was held at Newcastle University in the North East and gives his opinion on the most powerful site in the North East in a blog here.

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The future of traditional farm buildings at stake

The future of traditional farm buildings at stake

The Heritage Alliance, through its Rural Heritage Advocacy Group and Spatial Planning Advocacy Group, has held a workshop discussing the future of traditional farm buildings on 10th November 2014.

Held at Hendall Manor Barns in East Sussex, and Chaired by the Head of Heritage at the Country Land and Business Association [Alliance member], Jonathan Thompson, the workhop looked at creating a collective strategy to ensure that traditional farm buildings have a viable future across England. The workshop first outlined the current problems that traditional farm buildings face, and was followed by a series of case studies of various solutions from subsidy, via agri-environment scheme to good quality conversion to new uses. 

In the first session, Vince Holyoak, Head of Rural and Environmental Advice, English Heritage, spoke [links to presentation] on the value of traditional farm buildings, the evidence base, the issues and opportunities they face, alongside the planning and land management context. This included an analysis of the National Planning Policy Framework, Greater Flexibility for change of use, and information on area and site assessments. This was followed by Jo Barnes, Historic Environment Specialist, Natural England, who spoke [links to presentation] about public funding relevant to traditional farm buildings, agri-environment scheme funding, and the New Environment Land Management Scheme.

In the second session, Ben Greener, The Heritage Lottery Fund, provided an outline of the Heritage Enterprise funding scheme, and how this can be used within the context of Traditional Farm Buildings. Anthony Peers, Deputy Chair, Ancient Monument Society [Alliance member], provided [links to presentation] an alternative perspective of the future of traditional farm buildings through looking at the Cheshire Plain, showing that unlike other parts of the UK, there overriding issue is a relative lack of demand for, and economic viability of, converted farm buildings. Finally, Judith Norris, from the Rural Planning Practice, argued that the policy is there to support the conversion of traditional farm buildings either through the NPPF or NPPG, but it is he way it is interpreted where the policy dilemma lies. 

This was followed by an afternoon session, chaired by the chairman of the Spatial Planning Advocacy Group, Henry Russell, who looked at collective strategies including moving the debate from one of ‘planning battles’ to a debate on design. 

A flickr gallery from the day is also available here. For more information, about the Heritage Alliance’s Advocacy Groups, see our website here.

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Heritage and Identity: Thoughts from the Chairman of The Alliance

November 7, 2014

Heritage and Identity: Thoughts from the Chairman of The Alliance

Loyd Grossman Chairman of the Heritage Alliance explains why the Alliance’s latest debate on heritage and identity was held at Newcastle University in the North East and gives his opinion on the most powerful.

We hold these Heritage Debates because we want to stimulate new thinking on the benefits of our heritage to us all and so far we have explored the following topics:

  • Heritage & Tourism,
  • Heritage & Television
  • Heritage & Profit
  • Heritage & Philanthropy
  • And now, Heritage & Identity

We sometimes find that the outcomes of academic research do not always reach the public policy audiences for which they are intended. Our aim is to hold events that bring together researchers working on heritage issues with people working in the heritage sector. It is part of our communications remit.

These debates help transmit new ideas, to ensure that the new perspectives generated through research are understood by those formulating policy and practice in relation to heritage, and that the major challenges facing the heritage sector are understood by researchers.

Understandably, we have been focussing on the economic benefits of our heritage for the past few years. But more and more, policies in the run-up to the election are looking at ideas around individual well-being and social cohesion.

Yet the body of research of how heritage contributes is relatively underdeveloped in this area. There is less agreement about how the individual impacts of heritage contribute to concepts like social capital, community cohesion, social inclusion and civil society.

We believe that heritage can be used positively in helping government achieve many of its goals. Heritage can be a significant focus for local communities, helping to bring people together, to define local identity and to foster a new understanding of ourselves and those around us.

Identity in global terms is already well recognised:

The connection between identity and places is well borne out by the importance of heritage to the tourism industry. Heritage is part of the UK brand. In 2013, the UK ranked 5th out of 50 in terms of being rich in historic buildings and 7th for cultural heritage (National Brand Index), a 3rd in Overall Brand Ranking in 2013.

For businesses, the historic environment creates distinctive, enjoyable and successful places in which to live and work. Businesses occupying listed buildings are found to be more productive than those in unlisted buildings. The historic environment can be as important as road access in deciding business location.

There is of course also a downside. Heritage has sometimes been used and abused in framing identities. Plenty of nationalist states have polarised their citizens by citing historic symbols in support of their political views.

In the Scottish referendum, heritage was used by both the Yes and the No campaigns to support their cause. Historic Scotland hoped to keep their sites neutral but inevitably Bannockburn and Stirling Castle were used to invoke all the historic connotations.

Scotland and Wales today may feel more Scottish and Welsh than they did ten years ago. Yet in England, people may not find it as easy to distinguish what it is to be English.

Regional and local identities are perhaps less contentious.

One thing our heritage allows us to do very well is to recognise regional diversity and differences. A place-based sense of belonging allows us to define identities through civic rather than ethnic identities.

So what better place to come together to discuss heritage and identity than the North East?

That is why in association with this debate, we asked, in association with the Newcastle Journal,the debate attendees, Journal readers, North East MPs, these four questions:

  1. What is the most powerful symbol of your constituency or neighbourhood?
  2. What is the most powerful symbol of the North East (Durham, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Cleveland)
  3. If you had to describe the North East in 3 words what would they be
  4. What characteristics do you think make up a true Geordie.

My own thoughts on these questions are the following:

If I, an American by birth, were asked to say the most powerful symbol of the North East, I would have to have three, all very powerful, visual images:

  • Durham Cathedral, a World Heritage Site, is one of the great buildings of Europe, it puts the North East in a European and world wide context where it belongs. 
  • Hadrian’s Wall, another Word Heritage Site, because that feeling of being a frontier is still important, psychologically as well as historically.
  • The Newcastle bridges as a symbol of regeneration and of connecting communities, showing that a city like Newcastle can survive the rise and fall of major industries and still demonstrate that phoenix quality that all great cities have.

And if I had to describe the North Easterners – I wouldn’t dare bundle them all together as Geordies – in three words, I’d say:

  • Humorous
  • Neighbourly 
  • Industrious

Whether or not you agree with me, I have remarkably strong opinions, stronger than, say I would, if you asked the same question for the South East.

So I wonder, how safe is the North East’s cultural heritage and identity. In ten years’ time will the North East have kept its heritage. Is an industrial past more resilient in terms of its striking visual images? Or is its future more at risk than an area with more classic heritage architecture.

If we agree that there is a strong contemporary regional identity here, how has the North East achieved this? Is there anything the North East can teach us about the connection between protecting and preserving heritage and that feeling of belonging?

And if you have strong views on this topic or any other heritage related issues, we would be happy to hear from you via email mail@theheritagealliance.org.uk.

I look forward to seeing you at our next events.

Loyd

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Loyd Grossman calls for a cut in VAT on older buildings

October 24, 2014

Loyd Grossman calls for a cut in VAT on older buildings

The 20% VAT rate on the restoration of old buildings should be scrapped, Loyd Grossman, Chairman of The Heritage Alliance, has claimed speaking on the BBC Daily Politics Show on Wednesday 22nd October.

Speaking after the Prime Ministers questions and using the Ragged School Museum in East London as an example, Loyd Grossman argued that heritage was not a luxury that requires subsidy, but an essential part of our society and economy which justifies investment.

According to research conducted by the Historic Houses Association [Alliance member], essential repairs to member houses exceeds £750 million pounds in 2014, up from £390 million in 2009. Loyd Grossman argued, however, that it was not just big houses that face these costs as 86% of listed buildings are owned by people outside the top income bracket.

During the interview, Loyd Grossman said:

“Why can’t the government grasp the value of heritage and do something positive? Get rid of the VAT regime which slaps a full rate of tax on the repair and maintenance of old buildings but levies zero per cent on new-build and demolition. The current system just doesn’t make any sense.”

The Heritage Alliance is part of the Cut the VAT coalition, which calls for a reduction in the rate of VAT from 20% to 5% as permitted under EU rules. To find out more about our campaign, visit the Heritage Alliance website and see our Manifesto and Supplementary Briefing on VAT. To watch the video and see the debate, visit the BBC News website here

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Heritage Update #288 is out!

Heritage Update #288 is out!

The latest Heritage Update e-bulletin is now out Friday 24th October and emailed directly to our subscribers.

Heritage Update is our voice to, and for, the sector. The popular fortnightly e-bulletin offers policy updates, news, a consultation round-up, events / course listings and job vacancies. Update reaches an estimated 14000 mailboxes in the UK and internationally, with readers as far afield as Abu Dhabi, Antarctica, Istanbul and California.

The most recent back copy (10th October) and all other archive copies can be downloaded here. To subscribe and receive a copy directly to your inbox two weeks before it’s available online, please sign-up here

Click here to read #288

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The Heritage Alliance welcomes DCMS Announcement on the new English Heritage Model

October 14, 2014

The Heritage Alliance welcomes DCMS Announcement on the new English Heritage Model

The Heritage Alliance, the biggest coalition of heritage interests in England, welcomes today’s announcement from DCMS on the future of English Heritage.

DCMS confirms that English Heritage, the Government’s advisor on the historic environment, will be re-structured from 1 April 2015. The 420 properties that make up the National Heritage Collection will be managed by a new Charity ‘English Heritage’ while the advisory and other services will continue to be delivered by ‘Historic England’.

The Alliance raised a number of concerns in its response to the DCMS consultation in the summer. Loyd Grossman, Chairman of the Alliance, said ‘We’re pleased that the business plan has been agreed after a period of uncertainty and look forward to renewed stability for the sector. We congratulate the leadership of English Heritage on concluding what was a lengthy and complex negotiation and we look forward to working with them under the new arrangements.

‘However we will continue to monitor both parts of the new Model carefully because of the central importance of both ‘English Heritage’ and ‘Historic England’ to all of us who care for our heritage. We’re especially keen to make sure that Historic England is adequately resourced to provide essential statutory and non-statutory services for the sector and the wider public.’

The DCMS decision and summary of the Business Plan is at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-model-for-english-heritage-moves-a-step-closer-following-consultation

To download the full press release from the Heritage Alliance, click here

Note to Editors

  • The Heritage Alliance is the largest coalition of heritage interests in England. Established in 2002 by key voluntary sector bodies, it brings together 96 non-Government organisations concerned with our heritage. Between them, our members represent well over 5 million people across Britain. Find out more at www.theheritagealliance.org.uk.
  • To see our initial response to the DCMS Consultation and 40 others from across the heritage sector, see our website at http://www.theheritagealliance.org.uk/supplementary-briefing-attracting-more-investment-into-heritage/
  • You can follow the conversation on twitter using the #newEH hashtag.
  • The Heritage Alliance is also calling on the UK government and political powers to realise the power of heritage through 12 key policy asks. Read our manifesto and supplementary briefings here: http://www.theheritagealliance.org.uk/manifesto/
  • For images and more information about The Heritage Alliance please contact Policy and Communications Officer Matt Rabagliati on 0207 2330 500 or at matthew.rab@theheritagealliance.org.uk

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Heritage Update #287 is out!

October 10, 2014

Heritage Update #287 is out!

The latest Heritage Update e-bulletin is now out Friday 10th October and emailed directly to our subscribers.

Heritage Update is our voice to, and for, the sector. The popular fortnightly e-bulletin offers policy updates, news, a consultation round-up, events / course listings and job vacancies. Update reaches an estimated 14000 mailboxes in the UK and internationally, with readers as far afield as Abu Dhabi, Antarctica, Istanbul and California.

The most recent back copy (26th September) and all other archive copies can be downloaded here. To subscribe and receive a copy directly to your inbox two weeks before it’s available online, please sign-up here

Click here to read #287

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Woodchester Mansion Trust joins The Alliance!

Woodchester Mansion Trust joins The Alliance!

We are delighted to announce that Woodchester Mansion Trust has become the latest organisation to join the Heritage Alliance, making our membership an all-time high of 96! 

Woodchester Mansion is a 19th century Victorian Gothic Masterpiece which was mysteriously abandoned mid-construction in 1873. Hidden in a secluded Cotswold valley, it is untouched by time and the modern world. This Grade 1 Listed Building has been saved from dereliction, but will never be completed. 

Founded in 1989, Woodchester Mansion Trust has set about rescuing the Mansion from dereliction through support from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Trust is also the pioneer of the Living Classroom model of heritage skills training, becoming the first heritage site in the UK to provide hands-on training to student stonemasons and run courses for the lay public in a variety of traditional building skills. 

Woodchester Mansion is holding a series of events throughout the Autumn which are available to view on their website. For more information about Heritage Training at Woodchester Mansion, visit their website here

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