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ISSN 1357-4442Editor: Simon Denison

Issue no 52, April 2000

CBA UPDATE

Campaigns and reports from the CBA

Influencing urban development policy

The CBA last month submitted written evidence on urban development to the House of Commons Environment Select Committee, following a Government-sponsored report on urban regeneration. The Government plans an Urban White Paper for the near future.

The CBA called for the integration of conservation with urban renewal. Supporting the proposal that local authorities should have a strategic role for managing the whole urban environment, the CBA recommended the introduction of whole-town historic character assessments, to ensure that the capacity for different parts of a town to absorb change is recognised.

The CBA also lobbied for increased funding for local authority conservation services. It supported the proposal to foster more regeneration - provided it allows for sensitive re-use of historic buildings - but affirmed its support for locally distinctive new developments.

The CBA noted that many urban areas suffering from low demand for housing and social decline are those where too little regard was paid in the past to the historical and social context of regeneration. This in turn has impaired some communities' sense of historic identity with their neighbourhoods. The CBA claimed that the present policy of demand-led supply of housing was increasing problems, and called for a more imaginative policy to steer demand to certain areas for the benefit of conservation.

The CBA disputed the widespread belief that development on brownfield land is always good, on greenfield land always bad, noting that many brownfield sites contain important industrial and other archaeological remains, and have become havens for urban wildlife; while much greenfield land has been significantly degraded through intensive agriculture and peripheral development.

New grants for local heritage

Have you ever wanted to survey the field boundaries around your village? Or to know more about the history of buildings in your neighbourhood, or to restore the old village pump at the end of your street? Help may be at hand, in the form of a new small-grants scheme for local heritage projects launched by the Countryside Agency and supported by the Lottery.

The Local Heritage Initiative will run for 10 years and has £8m to disburse in the first three years. At present it covers only England but will soon be extended to the rest of Britain.

Standard grants of between £3,000- £15,000 will be given to local groups - such as archaeological societies and schools - for projects that investigate, explain or care for aspects of the local historic environment for the benefit of the local community. Most groups will need to raise matching funding to receive a grant.

The CBA has welcomed the scheme and is now becoming involved. For further information, contact LHI Information at The Acorn Centre, 51 High St, Grimethorpe, Barnsley S72 7BB, or telephone 01226 719019, or visit their website at www.lhi.org.uk.

Byways bill

The new Countryside and Rights of Way Bill was introduced in Parliament last month. Following lobbying by the CBA, the bill includes a measure allowing for closure of rights of way causing damage to archaeological sites. As the bill proceeds, the CBA will continue to press for stronger planning controls in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to bring them into line with National Parks, and for better protection for field boundaries.

Advice on rural economies

The CBA has given its views on a report on rural economies, prepared by a Government think-tank working on a new Rural White Paper.

The CBA applauded the proposed `radical rethink' of Government rural policy, and welcomed the report's definition of `environment' which recognises the contribution made by the historic environment to the character and economy of rural areas.

The CBA drew attention to the importance of the historic environment in attracting tourism and recreation in the countryside, themselves key sectors in the rural economy. The CBA called for more effective conservation of the historic character of the countryside to enhance the experience of visitors, and policies aimed at drawing visitors more to smaller attractions to reduce pressure on honeypot sites.

While welcoming more local involvement in decision making, the CBA stressed the need to ensure that sufficient specialist conservation expertise is available. The CBA called for greater attention to the materials, style and setting of new buildings; careful regulation to ensure conservation and sympathetic conversion of old, especially agricultural, buildings; and the avoidance of urbanisation on the back of rural diversification.

The CBA welcomed the proposal to bring agricultural development - which can cause serious damage to archaeological remains - under planning control, and urged that arable payments under the Common Agricultural Policy should be conditional on protecting archaeological sites and boundaries.

The CBA called for a review of `class consents' for agricultural work on scheduled ancient monuments, through which landowners are permitted to carry out damaging work without seeking permission each time. The CBA also restated the importance of adequate provision of local government conservation services.

In brief

Museums strategy

Earlier this year the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLAC), a new strategic body set up by the Government, published its first corporate strategy. Commenting on the strategy, the CBA reminded MLAC of the close links between museums and archaeology - in research, education and storage - and urged the new body to continue to work closely with archaeology, for example in the Portable Antiquities Reporting Scheme and in integrating the work of museums with that of Sites and Monuments Records.

Noting that MLAC had been founded to nurture `access, education, innovation, and the creative industries', the CBA stressed that museums also had a fundamental role in preservation and conservation of artefacts - an idea curiously absent from the MLAC strategy.

New CBA books

The CBA has published three new research reports, all currently available at special rates.

Archaeology and Conservation in Ironbridge, by Richard Hayman, Wendy Horton and Shelley White (£24), is a reassessment of this World Heritage Site following a recent major repairs project. Conservation and change in historic towns, edited by E Patricia Dennison (£30), is a volume of papers focusing on how to protect a town's heritage while allowing it to develop. Prehistoric Intertidal Archaeology in the Welsh Severn Estuary, by Martin Bell, Astrid Caseldine and Heike Neumann (£36), is a survey of the greatest concentration of prehistoric intertidal archaeology in Britain.

For further details, call Kate Sleight on 01904 671417 (cbabooks@dial.pipex.com) or visit www.britarch.ac.uk.

Compiled by Simon Denison


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