2007 news articles

Chester Wins Prestigious IRU City Trophy

Code of Practice for Coach-Based Tourism The IRU have in recent years awarded a trophy to a European city that has recognised the benefit of coach tourism by implementing policies that favour coach tourism and investing in facilities for those coaches and their passengers.

In 2003 The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK nominated Rochester a city that already held their prestigious "Coach Friendly Local Authority" award as their nomination and were pleased that they won it. As a result Rochester has seen coach tourist numbers increase by 15% with many more overseas visitors. The important benefits to operators, local business and tourists are clear for all to see."

CPT have over recent years been in meetings with The English Historic Towns Forum to agree a Code of Practice for coach operators, local authorities, tour operators, group organisers and tourist attractions. This was compiled into a leaflet for all concerned. The English city of Chester, a member of EHTF, took notice of these guidelines and, recognizing the wisdom of this advice, took the necessary action and in 2006 were also awarded the CPT "Coach Friendly Local Authority" In fact they were so impressed with their new coach facilities at the Little Roodee where 4000 coaches visited last year and where £450,000 has recently been invested that they nominated them for the 2007 IRU award which they have deservedly won.

On presenting the award, to the Mayor of Chester, Jim Latham, at Busworld, Kortrijk on 18 October, Francesco Pacifico, President of the IRU Passenger Transport Council, said; "For many years the City of Chester has been consistently implementing a long term coach management policy covering all aspects of coach tourism. This award acknowledges Chester's long term commitment to provide an efficient and business-friendly strategy, which should serve as a model for other major tourist destinations around the globe.

Bob Pilbeam,
Coaching Consultant,
Confederation of Passenger Transport UK

Heritage Counts on Skills

It is vital to attract more young people into training for conservation craft skillsMany more skilled craftspeople and professionals are needed to tackle the challenges faced by England's historic environment. That's the stark message from Heritage Counts 2007, the sixth annual survey of the historic environment from English Heritage.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Chief Executive Simon Thurley said, "Although those parts of the designated heritage that we can measure are in a better position in 2007 than 2002, this masks the true picture, which includes what is happening to undesignated and locally important heritage and conservation areas". He added that skills were the key to tackling the main problems facing our heritage: dealing with difficult buildings at risk; erosion of the character of Conservation Areas; pressures of housing growth; housing market renewal; climate change and delivering heritage protection reform.

Good skills training schemes are already being run and funded by bodies like the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Trust. However, despite these efforts and action plans aplenty, not enough additional people are being trained - the number of apprentices and trainees starting in heritage related craft skills has fallen 13% in the last two years.

The challenges are not just in heritage craft skills, of course. Go round any new development and all too often the quality of buildings shows a skills gap in basic construction. Then there is a continuing shortage of experienced conservation officers to deal with proactive and regulatory work. Urban design is in the same parlous state.

Collectively these are the skills that are needed for the conservation and development of place making in our historic towns.

All credit then to Simon Thurley in announcing three initiatives to tackle the shortage: a new three-year graduate heritage training programme; support for training in local authorities to deal with the heritage protection review and additional resources for Inspired!, the campaign for historic churches.

That's welcome, but responding to the challenge in Heritage Counts will require local authorities and industry to invest directly in training. It's nice to get experienced staff off the recruitment shelf, but if the cupboard is bare it's time to plant some seeds and grow your own.

Brian Human,

2006 AGM Report

The Annual General Meeting held in Bury St Edmunds on 18 October agreed to adopt the Business Plan 2007-09 which had been proposed and made available to Members for comments prior to the meeting. It also agreed to the amendments to the Constitution, taking account of these changes.

Of special interest may be the changes put in place to expand the Membership in order to include a greater range of Local Authorities. Many Authorities already show their support for the Forum by attending events and purchasing publications.

In order to extend the network of expertise, but to continue to support smaller historic towns, all Local Authorities will be eligible for Membership but a scale of for Membership will ensure a fair distribution fees of the financial load.

In addition,other categories of Membership were invited to propose representatives to join the Executive Committee. All current Members will receive a letter explaining the implications of these changes and invitations to join the Forum will be sent to many other English Local Authorities.

To view minutes of the EHTF AGM 2006 please click here.

Donaldsons merges with DTZ

With effect from 10th July 2007, Donaldsons LLP has been acquired by DTZ.

DTZ is a leading global real estate adviser with over 11,000 staff within its system operating across 140 cities in 45 countries working with clients throughout the world. Its client-focused activities range from high quality capital market solutions, to the more traditional occupier-led property services and advice.

The combination of DTZ and Donaldsons business will reinforce DTZ's position as a top global property consultancy, ranked in the top two in the UK and in the top three in Europe. The combined business will fully adopt the DTZ brand name from autumn 2007. Further information on the acquisition is available on DTZ's website, www.dtz.co.uk.

The Chair, Executive Committee and Director are delighted to welcome DTZ as Partners/Sponsors and look foward toworking with them in the future.

Streetscape project

New Walk, Leicesterto demonstrate that it is possible to manage traffic safely at the same time as enhancing the public realm. At a follow-up workshop, it was agreed that there was still the need for guidance, specifically tailored for EHTF Members covering the wide range of issues which impact on the streetscape and how a less cluttered environment might be achieved.

The Historic Core Zone Project -almost 10 years ago - demonstrated that historic towns could lead the way, and since then many organisations and projects have followed, including the 'Manual for Streets' published earlier in the year. A range of advice is now available but, it was agreed, this needs to be brought together into a coherent directory format and this task group will work on during the rest of this year. It is planned to launch the result early in 2008.

Retail development in historic towns

Retail development in historic townsSeveral conferences over the last few years have explored this topic which continues to impact on historic towns as small towns compete against large cities and independent retailers compete with high street giants.

EHTF believes that it is the quality of the development that must be paramount if the historic towns are to retain their identity and USP. The publication launched in partnership with English Heritage ('Retail Development in Historic Areas' 2005)* offers case studies which demonstrate many of the issues and the conference held in Bristol in June explored the topic further. At the workshop held as a follow-up to this it was agreed that guidance on how to reach the best decisions not just on the how? and what? but on the whether to? would be helpful. Helping to improve the processes of decision making and supporting the pursuit of high quality should ensure that where and when retail development is undertaken it enhances the whole experience of the historic town.

The work on this project will continue with the launch of further guidance planned for the New Year.


Programme of work for 2008

Projects and events for the coming year are currently under consideration in line with the 2007 - 09 Business Plan. Expressions of interest in projects or hosting events are very welcome. Please contact Chris Winter on 0117 975 0459 or chirs.winter@uwe.ac.uk.

Retail Development: this remains an issue impacting on many of our Members, and we are working towards producing further practical guidance, with partners who have extensive expertise in the field.

Streetscape: as well as the preparation of a guidance document, a series of regional training seminars is being considered to offer guidance on achieving better streets, with fewer signs and lines and street clutter which are threatening the attractiveness of the historic built environment.

Conservation Area Management: conservation areas are at the heart of historic places and their management is key to the enhancement and preservation of the historic environment; a conference is proposed to refocus the attention of local and national agencies.

Tourism management: since the publication of 'Focus on Tourism' the national tourism agencies have changed significantly and globalisation and the approach of the 2012 Olympics mean that many historic towns may need to re-assess their approach to destination management. A conference to appraise these issues may help Members to achieve a sustainable and economically sound way forward.

Transport Innovation Fund: this initiative could have significant impact on Member towns and EHTF has been invited to Durham to explore this and other examples of its development.

Study Tour to the Netherlands: - planned by EAHTR for June 2008

Capitalising on Industrial Heritage

English Heritage's Swindon Office and the NMR Archive StoresAppreciation of the cultural value of Britain's industrial heritage has grown immensely over the last thirty years. Hundreds of historic industrial sites are visited by millions of visitors each year and more than half a dozen industrial landscapes are inscribed as World Heritage Sites, yet the potential of historic industrial buildings as drivers of regeneration still seems to surprise us and the case still has to be made time over time.

Sustainable re-use of industrial sites is nothing new - industrial sites have a very long record of being re-used for entirely different purposes from that for which they were built. They have been re-used, often with minimal intervention, because they offered cheap, easily utilised, space but there was seldom any respect for the character and integrity of the building. Recent decades have, however, witnessed more regard for sympathetic treatment of historic industrial buildings hugely influenced by public intervention (by statutory protection and public funding) and the results have been impressive. The retention of so much of the original fabric and features in the re-development of Albert Dock, Liverpool in the late 1980s was a turning point. Initially Albert Dock, the centre-piece of the regenerated South Docks and the Liverpool Maritime City World Heritage site, was saved by its Grade I listing and by public funding now the surrounding developments are commercially driven.

The regeneration of GWR Railway Works at Swindon followed a very different path - speculative, piecemeal and opportunist - but with similar positive results. The catalyst for regeneration may have been the conversion of the GWR General Offices into the RCHME headquarters but the conversion by McArthurGlen of the huge Grade II* sheds of the locomotive works into the Great Western Designer Outlet Village revitalised this part of central Swindon. The site now comprises the largest campus of heritage bodies in Europe with the English Heritage Swindon office and NMR, the National Trust and STEAM: the Museum of the GWR.

Now with many of England's most significant historic industrial sites such as Saltaire, Manningham Mills and King William Yard being sympathetically re-used, along with countless other sites such as Dean Clough Mills, the Custard Factory and the Match Factory, the industrial heritage is truly at the heart of regeneration.

Keith Falconer
Head of Industrial Archaeology
English Heritage

Annual Conference & AGM

Annual Conference & AGM
Waring and netts logo

The 2007 Annual General Meeting will be held in Newcastle on Wednesday 17th October at 5pm. This will be a significant meeting as proposals will be made regarding the legal status of the Forum and the future position of the Chair.

After 20 years as an association of members, the growth of the organisation has led the Executive Committee to consider a more secure structure for the future. Having taken advice, a proposal will be prepared for circulation to all Members and for the agreement of the AGM.

In view of the pressures felt by the local authority officers who give their time to support and guide the Forum, it was also considered time to explore alternative models for the Chair- on whom the majority of the pressure falls. Members will be asked for their views on some alternatives which will be proposed.


The Industrial heritage of Nottingham

Broadway, Nottingham

Nottingham is a thriving modern city with a rich and varied industrial heritage.

Much of the area's early wealth was based on coal and its profits funded large country houses such as Wollaton Hall (1580-88). Later the Nottingham Canal (1796) was built to deliver large quantities of coal direct to Nottingham, this was then followed by an intensive network of railway lines, leaving a legacy of purpose-built buildings throughout the City.

Nottingham was also the pre-eminent centre for the production of lace. Whilst many factories survive in the suburbs, the most visible evidence of the lace industry's prosperity is the exuberant multi-storey, Victorian warehouses in the Lace Market, particularly along the s-shaped Broadway.

Nottingham was also known for its Raleigh bicycles and John Players cigarettes and many of the factories survive in the Radford area of the City. The City also boasts a fine brewery complex built by James Shipstone in the Basford area of the City.

Twentieth century industry has also left its mark. Particular mention must be made to two Grade I listed, reinforced concrete buildings (known as D6 and D10) built in the 1930s for Boots pharmaceutical company by the architect Sir Owen Williams.

Stephen Bradwell,
Conservation Officer,
Nottingham City Council