What do you do if a local authority has no conservation officer?

Blog by David Biggs, The Tamworth and District Civic Society (TDCS)

Following the announcement that the London Borough of Ealing decided to delete the role of conservation officer and in view of the Civic Voice campaign on conservation areas and officers, I thought you’d be interested in North Warwickshire Borough Council (NWBC) – part of whose geographical area comes within our remit in The Tamworth and District Civic Society – and the issue of unprotected heritage assets.

Because NWBC has no Conservation Officer, no Local Listing programme and no Locally-Listed Buildings whatsoever, and no Conservation Area Advisory Committee, its unprotected heritage assets are at real and constant danger of loss in the places within the borough without conservation areas.

Buildings like these are important and unique in their local context, but they are not going to meet the criteria set by Historic England for national listing. In an area without a Conservation Officer, Local Listing and a co-ordinated and comprehensive approach to conservation and heritage, unprotected old buildings can be picked off one-by-one by developers.

The historic character and identity of many of our towns, villages and streets are being cumulatively eroded, because no protection is afforded, and officers and councillors have little if any planning grounds to reject applications.  We wonder how many other civic societies experience the same issue and concern?  It seems clear from Civic Voice communications, that this is happening elsewhere, and so is a major national issue.

The state and future of our nation’s conservation areas is of deep concern, but the civic movement should also be very worried about our unprotected heritage assets that we can’t get nationally-listed, or locally-listed, or placed into conservation areas.

It is therefore pleasing to see Civic Voice focus this year’s national conference on asking: “How can we balance conservation and regeneration?  Tamworth hopes to attend, and we look forward to hearing from Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, RTPI and RIBA about the future of conservation departments and the impact on our everyday heritage. We will also be attending the Midlands Meeting before then, and will be interested  to discover the extent to which our concerns and experiences are shared by other civic societies across our region.

*On the point about Local Heritage Listing, Civic Voice earlier this year published a new guide (available here) along with a new national register highlighting those local authorities who manage a Local Heritage List. We are asking Civic Voice members to help us to keep this database updated.

 ** Civic Voice’s Sarah James says: “I think this makes a really good point: what do you do if a local authority has no conservation officer, as there is zero chance of ever getting a local list. The everyday heritage outside of conservation areas will be lost”.

What do you do if a local authority has no conservation officer?

Mary Ash, Civic Voice East of England forum invites groups to network and discuss conservation areas.

On April 21st, several civic societies in the Eastern Region came together in Norwich with the express intention of forming an association of groups which had a regional closeness as well as civic interests in common.

Ian Harvey, of Civic Voice, had us comparing and discussing several basic but important matters which affect us all. Although we were a small group, there was much enthusiasm from those attending, and it was decided to meet in Great Yarmouth on September 22 to set up a more formal association.

We shall be open to any organisation which has an interest in its local community. We also hope to have some training on an issue close to most societies’ hearts, which is Conservation Area auditing.

Most of us have areas in our towns and cities which need conserving, and recording the features of buildings and public spaces in an agreed format goes a long way towards protecting them. So here is the programme for the day. Please let us know if you are able to send someone from your organisation, and let’s make this fledgling association fly!

Date: September 22, 2018
Venue: Christchurch, King Street Great Yarmouth, NR20 2HL
Time: 11.00am – 2.30 pm


Civic Voice’s Regional Association meeting are for Civic Voice members and other civic societies to meet and to give you the chance to develop your skills, network and be inspired by the work of others in the civic movement. .

The meeting will be led by Ian Harvey, Civic Voice Executive Director.

A light lunch will be available from St George’s Theatre nearby.
A short walk around the town afterwards should be fun.

Mary Ash, Civic Voice East of England forum invites groups to network and discuss conservation areas.

Civic Voice call for stronger protection on non-designated heritage assets in Planning Policy by publishing national register of local authorities with a Local Heritage List

New research by Civic Voice, funded by Historic England’s Heritage Protection Commissions programme, shows that at least 168 local authorities across the country now have a Local Heritage List in place, giving greater protection to non-designated heritage assets. These authorities are active in listening to communities about what buildings, structures, sites and landscapes make the local area special.

The first national register of Local Heritage Lists is being published by Civic Voice today to inspire other communities to knock on the door of their local council and to campaign for more Local Heritage Lists to be created. The register is published alongside a new Civic Voice guide highlighting examples of local communities who have helped prepare Local Heritage Lists.

Sarah James, Civic Voice expert on Local Heritage Lists said: “Local planning authorities are encouraged to consider making clear and up-to-date information on their identified non-designated heritage assets, both in terms of the criteria used to identify assets and information about the location of existing assets, accessible to the public. We don’t think this goes far enough. By publishing this first national register we want to highlight that we have a long way to go to protect our local heritage. In our response to the draft National Planning Policy Framework we will be asking the Government to make it mandatory for local authorities to prepare a Local Heritage List.”

The Local Heritage List National Register and Local Heritage List Guide is available at http://www.civicvoice.org.uk/campaigns/local-heritage-list/

Civic Voice call for stronger protection on non-designated heritage assets in Planning Policy by publishing national register of local authorities with a Local Heritage List

Council opens public consultation on Oxford Central Conservation Area Appraisal

An eight-week public consultation opens on Monday 3 September 2018 on the City Council’s Oxford Central (City and University) Conservation Area Appraisal, which covers the historic core of the city.

National legislation defines a conservation area as an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. A conservation area appraisal is an objective analysis of the elements which together define the area’s special architectural or historic interest.

These elements will be largely physical, both man-made and natural, such as historic buildings, trees and rivers, but will also include other considerations, such as spaces, views, uses, and sounds. The appraisal seeks to describe and map these elements to inform everyone involved in the planning process.

The council would like to hear from the public about what makes Oxford’s central area special and is consulting on the work done so far for eight weeks from 3 September until 26 October 2018.

People can comment on the appraisal by responding to the online consultation on the council’s website: https://www.oxford.gov.uk/oxfordcentral. Alternatively, submissions can also be made by email to heritage@oxford.gov.uk or by meeting the project team at the Town Hall during Oxford Open Doors on Saturday 8 September and Saturday 20 October from 10am to 2pm.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Board Member for Planning and Transport, said: “The centre of Oxford is one of the most important conservation areas in the country with its concentration of buildings and history in a small space. It is also a large part of the living and breathing city where people live, work and visit. It has evolved over hundreds of years and it will continue to adapt in the future. This assessment will help to record what is special about the area and allow the City Council to make informed proposals for the future management of the area to ensure that its character and appearance are not harmed. Decisions about alterations, development and demolition will be informed by this appraisal.”

Council opens public consultation on Oxford Central Conservation Area Appraisal

WARWICK District Council has proposed a new Canal Conservation Area across the district and is seeking the views of local people.

WARWICK District Council has proposed a new Canal Conservation Area across the district and is seeking the views of local people.

The move follows a recent assessment of the canal and its setting, by the Council’s Conservation Team to identify and explain what makes it special and its historic significance to our district.

The Grand Union Canal and Stratford-upon-Avon Canal together serve as a major heritage asset dating from the late 18th-century linking historic towns with the countryside and strengthening Warwick District’s character, economy, and tourism. The waterways also provide a recreational facility for local residents, who can walk, jog or cycle along the 40km of canal towpath in the district.

Designation of the Canal Conservation Area will promote access to the canals, improve interpretation of our industrial heritage, and crucially, it will promote informed, intelligent high-quality design, responsive to local distinctiveness that recognises what local people value.

A public consultation exercise is now open and the draft Canal Conservation Area appraisal document can be viewed on the Council’s website.

People wishing to contribute local knowledge and values should make their submissions using the links on the Council website by 24th September.

The project is being delivered for the Council by Roger Beckett, a local Architect/Planner with over forty years’ experience of waterside planning, design and conservation and he is seeking feedback from the public on the proposals. He can be contacted at roger.beckett@warwickdc.gov.uk.

See the original article at: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/news/article/208/local_views_sought_on_creation_of_canal_conservation_area 

WARWICK District Council has proposed a new Canal Conservation Area across the district and is seeking the views of local people.

Upton Parish Council is delighted to announce the completed refurbishment of its War Memorial,

Upton Parish Council is delighted to announce the completed refurbishment of its War Memorial, which has been made possible by the acquisition of a grant of £6,010 from the War Memorials Trust, as part of their commemoration of the First World War.

Cllr Jean Evans led for the Parish Council in researching the memorial’s heritage and negotiating with Donald Insall Associates, who as experts in architectural heritage, were the ideal professionals to advise and recommend firms who would be interested in and able to carry out the work. The contract was awarded to Recclesia Ltd.

The work included stone cleaning, repointing using a special lime based mortar and sharpening all lettering. In addition repair, replace and repointing for all the surrounding flag stones.

In the course of researching, some interesting detail about Upton was unearthed from Parish Council meetings of the time. A fund was set up and by September 25th 1919 £475 had been received. It had been planned to erect the memorial opposite the Wheatsheaf but it was felt by some that the Cross, where it now is, would be more appropriate.

Sir Philip Egerton was approached about using the land which he donated to the community in memory of his sons who had been killed in the war.

Frances Moreton, Director, War Memorials Trust said, “War memorials are a tangible connection to our shared pas creating a link between the fallen and today. It is vital we ensure all our war memorials are in the best possible condition for their age and the charity is delighted to support this project. The centenary of World War I is a wonderful opportunity for local communities across the country to protect and conserve their war memorials; if anyone knows of any other war memorials in need of help please contact us.”

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has decided to add Upton and District War Memorial Cross to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. The memorial is now listed at Grade II.

For further information contact the Parish Council Clerk: clerk@uptonbychester.org.uk



Upton Parish Council is delighted to announce the completed refurbishment of its War Memorial,

Volunteers head to Derby to find out how the First World War Memorials Programme and its volunteers have been making a positive impact on the region’s war memorials. 

On August 1st representatives from civic societies, local councils, the Royal British Legion and local history groups joined together in Derby to find out how the First World War Memorials Programme and its volunteers have has been making a positive impact on the region’s war memorials.

In addition to hearing from the programme partners Civic Voice, Historic England, Imperial War Museums and War Memorials Trust, who provided the background to the programme and specific examples of their work, delegates also heard from a civic society that surveyed over 70 war memorials in their town, a recipient of grant funding, and a district council that carried out a project to record, survey and apply to list all the memorials in the district.

Diane Wells, representing Tamworth and District Civic Society, spoke of her research project for Amington War Memorial, which was erected as early as 1917 and which, for that reason, had initially caught her attention.  Dedicated to ‘The Fallen Heroes of Amington’ the war memorial did not include the names of those individuals, even though there were parts of the stone memorial where plaques were obviously meant to have been attached.  With Heritage Lottery funding the project set about researching the 21 soldiers from the area, with the help of a local group of scouts, and their names were added to the base of the memorial.  The project also included refurbishment of the area immediately surrounding the memorial allowing safer access to it.  Not content with stopping there, Diane also co-ordinated a small group of volunteers who attended a training workshop to find out how to carry out condition surveys for war memorials.  The group spent a number of months locating, visiting and recording the condition of over 70 memorials in Tamworth and the surrounding area and adding the information to War Memorials Online.  Thanks to their work there is now a much greater understanding of the district’s war memorial heritage, ensuring the people named on the crosses, plaques, windows etc will not be forgotten.

David Sneath gave a detailed account of the project in which he was involved to repair the Mercian Memorial at Crich, Derbyshire. with funding from War Memorials Trust.  The tower was completed in 1923 with later additions in 1934. It was designed by Lt Col A. W. Brewill to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the Sherwood Foresters (Nottingham and Derbyshire Regiment).

In 2016 a grant of £8,640 was awarded through the War Memorials Trust Grants Scheme towards professional advice for a structural survey, concrete analysis and production of a draft Specification and Schedule of Repairs by a conservation accredited architect. This required scaffolding to the concrete dome and the production of core samples for chemical analysis.

In 2017 a grant of £67,830 was awarded for full scaffolding, repairs to the cracked concrete dome, removal of materials from previous repairs and application of appropriate products to repair the cracks and protect from water penetration, repairs to support columns and cills, repointing the whole tower with lime mortar, staining of doors, repairs and repainting of gates and railings, repairs to the plinth and paving at the base and related professional fees.

David finished by stressing the importance of getting expert advice from organisations such as War Memorials Trust and Historic England to ensure works were carried out using the correct methods and materials.

Finally, we heard from Michael Tagg, Conservation Officer at Bassetlaw District Council.  With the help of his colleagues, research has been carried out for each of the district’s 38 external war memorials to find out details of when they were first built and unveiled, who the designer/architect was and details of the unveiling ceremony.  The condition of the memorials was also recorded.  Thankfully, just three were found to be in need of conservation work.  With information and photographs from research and site visits, the team applied to Historic England for 19 memorials to be awarded listed status, giving them greater protection.

The programme has run similar events in four of England’s regions since February.  In that time we’ve heard from a number of volunteers who have been involved in the programme and the fantastic contribution they have made to ensure the future of the nation’s war memorials.

Comments from those who attended the event included:

“It was a very engaging and informative workshop which has given me a lot of new information about the FWWMP and the work of various organisations involved”,

“An excellent day with very good presentations and information, as well as several good networking contacts.”

Don’t miss your chance to hear about what’s been happening in your local area and discuss how your community can continue to commemorate the fallen beyond the end of the First World War centenary.  You can register to attend the following events below.

Volunteers head to Derby to find out how the First World War Memorials Programme and its volunteers have been making a positive impact on the region’s war memorials.