Thursday, 4 January 2018

Local Heritage Assets: 'making better use of the available resources to identify, protect and maintain the historic buildings and places that matter to local communities.'

The December newsletter from the Rescue Sidmouth Drill Hall campaign brought up several interesting points, including:

What exactly do we mean by a 'heritage asset'?
Futures Forum: Making the most of your heritage assets
Futures Forum: Community Assets @ Budleigh Salterton
Futures Forum: Locally Listed Heritage Assets: report for East Devon

And clearly the Drill Hall is one such asset:
Futures Forum: Locally Listed Heritage Assets: and deliberate neglect of the Drill Hall

Here is the latest newsletter:

Dear Friends,

December has brought the publication of several important documents about Heritage and the role it is likely to play in the tourist economy over the next few years. I have written to Sidmouth Town Councillors to draw their attention to two of these but I have only just become aware of the third one.

The first document was released by the Minister for Arts, Tourism and Heritage, John Glen MP. The others are from Historic England which is the advisory body on Heritage.

These documents are of great relevance to Sidmouth and I hope you will find time to go and read them.

Sidmouth has the greatest number of listed buildings in Devon if Exeter is excluded. At 358 it is far ahead of its closest rival Tiverton at 290, and almost all of Sidmouth is part of one of the Conservation Areas. As such, the settings of Heritage Assets and the rules governing Conservation Areas should have a huge influence on any development in Sidmouth.

The term Heritage Asset can be misleading, sometimes it is used to refer to a Listed Building but in other contexts it can mean unlisted historical buildings or open spaces. The Ham can be seen as a Heritage Asset and the setting viewed as important in planning terms. This quote from page 2 of the Historic England document The Setting of Heritage Assets,  Historic Environment Good Practice Advice in Planning gives a definitive meaning to the term Heritage Asset and makes it clear that it is not meant just to refer to Designated Heritage Assets which are those which have been Listed.
Setting is the surroundings in which an asset is experienced, and may therefore be more extensive than its curtilage. All heritage assets have a setting, irrespective of the form in which they survive and whether they are designated or not.

I hope that these documents will give us extra ammunition when trying to protect the whole of the Sid Valley, and the AONBs and the World Heritage Site setting.

You are all aware that the Scoping Exercise results have been delayed past the date when they were intended to be presentation to both Councils. They are now due to be considered in February. The Retain-Refurbish-Reuse website has a latest news section and now also contains a set of information sheets to help us understand most of the issues around Port Royal and possible redevelopment there.

I am convinced that the way forward for the Drill Hall is to persuade Sidmouth Town Council to realise how the interest in Heritage can be used to draw funds to the town to help improve our economy for the benefit of us all. Funds can only be accessed if the building is restored in some way and brought back into use, so demolition of the Drill Hall would be killing a goose with the potential to lay golden eggs for many years.

Please keep up your efforts to share information with as many people as possible, a well informed electorate firmly behind their local council can achieve great things.

Kind regards, Mary

Heritage News and Christmas Greetings
Newsletter Archive - Sidmouth Drill Hall Rescue

Here are some further notes to the above:

The Heritage Statement issued by John Glen, Minister of Arts, Tourism and Heritage:

> page 14: the role of specialist Local Authority advisors in maximising 'the benefits of the heritage in their local area and respond to the needs of local communities': 

'We will encourage local planning authorities to invest in their custodians of the local historic environment and to work more closely with Historic England and the private and voluntary sectors to make better use of the available resources to identify, protect and maintain the historic buildings and places that matter to local communities. We will continue to explore opportunities to streamline heritage consent processes, maintaining the current level of protection for the historic environment'

> page 15: ‘We will continue to encourage all parties in the public, private and voluntary sectors to work together to ensure that conservation areas remain successful and vibrant historic places that add value to local communities.’

Storytelling by ‘historical figures’:

> For example: at Cromford Mills in the Derwent Valley, World Heritage Site:
Heritage training courses leading to long term employment:

> Sidmouth is uniquely placed within Devon to build on heritage as there are 358 Listed buildings; only Exeter has more in the whole of Devon:

Conservation Areas: 

> The Sid Valley's Conservation Areas are connected to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site: VisitEngland intends to draw more overseas visitors to the WHSs:

> The Sidmouth sea front should reflect the heritage the town and Valley has to offer - as other coastal towns are doing with success:

> Historic England  released another important document this month about Conservation Areas:

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