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Newsletter No. 23 Spring 2002

Stop Line in West Wales

Defence of Britain Project: Aerial view of the remains of one of the anti-invasion stop-lines in west Wales.

In this issue:

Quinquennial Review of Cadw

A Research Agenda for Wales

European Cultural Landscape Project

The Defence of Britain Project

Parks and Gardens: does anybody care?

Your CBA representatives


This issue of the newsletter tackles the broad sweep, moving from initiatives afoot in Wales through to work on a European partnership project. The CBA Committee works behind the scenes to comment on a range of consultations from planning applications to National and UK governmental policy documents on behalf of the group as a whole. In many cases these responses are hardly suitable material for a newsletter. However, the recent response to the Quinquennial review of Cadw was thought to be of sufficiently wide interest to merit inclusion in this edition.

Progress has continued with the development of a research agenda for Wales, and Kate Geary outlines future developments designed to ensure that everybody with an interest in Welsh archaeology has the opportunity to contribute to the process.

Work on the fieldwork phase of the Defence of Britain has now been completed and Jeff Spencer reports back on a conference held last year, which took stock of the work of the project to date. Medwyn Parry adds to the picture by focusing on work undertaken under the aegis of the project in Wales.

Finally, the Secretary asks me to draw your urgent attention to the venue and relatively immediate date of the Spring Meeting which will be at Scolton Manor, just outside Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, on the 16th March: details on page 15-16 and in the papers that accompany this newsletter. It has been over ten years since we met in the south-west and we hope to welcome many of you to Scolton.

Stop press!! Shoe-horned onto the back page, with the ink still barely dry, is an account of recent developments at a Grade I historic park in north-west Wales. On the whole archaeological concerns are well provisioned for with the planning process in Wales. However on occasion, cases do arise which frustrate the efforts of all striving to promote the value of the Nation’s historic environment. Margaret Mason comments on a situation where procedures have not worked as effectively as may have been expected. The example serves to emphasise the importance of continued efforts by organisations such as CBA Wales to continue its work in promoting the understanding and enjoyment of the past in the present.

John Griffith Roberts, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
21 February 2002

The Historic Environment of Wales and a Quinquennial Review of Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments

As part of the programme of five yearly reviews of various Assembly bodies and activities, the National Assembly has commissioned a review of Cadw. This is seen as an opportunity for those with opinions about the heritage of Wales to contribute their thoughts to an exercise, which will influence the National Assembly’s development and implementation of heritage policy. CBA Wales was invited to take part in this exercise and the CBA Committee has submitted a response to the Transport, Planning and Environment Committee of the National Assembly, which is undertaking the review. The results of the review have yet to be released. However, the Committee felt that it might be of interest to CBA Wales to be informed of the comments that have been submitted on behalf of the group as a whole. The original response was produced and submitted by CBA Wales Chair Frances Lynch on the basis of submissions from the Committee as a whole. The letter was necessarily lengthy and comprehensive, and the following represents an edited version of it.

‘As a body devoted to the study of the physical remains of the past within Wales and to the promotion of understanding of the historical development of the Welsh landscape and its people CBA Wales naturally considers the historic environment to be one of the great treasures of Wales and one its most valuable assets, spiritually and economically. A historical environment is one of the most benign and inspiring pillars of nationhood and identity.

‘CBA Wales is keen to emphasise that the historic environment is very broadly based, ranging from individual sites and features through to patterns of fields and traditions of land use and on to the everyday fabric of town and village centres. Moreover there is a continuum between the historic environment and the natural environment, for Wales today is the product of what generations of people have made of the places in which they lived.

‘CBA Wales urges the National Assembly to ensure that knowledge and understanding of the value and importance of the historic environment is fostered in the widest possible way among the population of Wales and amongst visitors and potential visitors the world over.

‘To this end an educational and research role should be central to Cadw’s work, so as to promote access for all – in both an intellectual and physical sense – and to ensure that the desire to understand and conserve the evidence of the past will be strong in future generations. Greater strategic emphasis on education and understanding can help develop a pro-active approach to excluded groups, to those who currently feel that they have no stake in their historic environment.

‘In our view all of Cadw’s current functions are necessary. We do not see any serious duplication with the work of other bodies except in the relationship with the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments Wales (RCAHMW) over survey work. We believe that the continued separation of the two bodies should be re-examined.

‘Cadw is the only National Assembly body that has a primary responsibility for the totality of the historic environment. The loss of Cadw would be a serious blow, highly damaging to the effectiveness and reputation of the National Assembly of Wales.

‘The work of Cadw and the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) has successfully come together in Tir Gofal and other agri-environmental initiatives and in broader landscape studies. This is crucial to a holistic approach to the environment, both natural and man-made, but on balance we judge that it would be inappropriate to hand over the primary historic role to CCW or to absorb Cadw within the larger independent body.

‘RCAHMW is the government body within Wales which has the greatest overlap of activity with Cadw in that both bodies sponsor primary survey work and feed information on the historic environment to the National Monuments Record (NMR) and the regional Sites and Monuments Records (SMRs). In England its sister organisation, RCHME, has recently been merged with English Heritage but in Scotland a similar review resulted in a different outcome. The arguments for and against such a merger, including those put in England and Scotland, should be seriously considered by the National Assembly in its review of the two bodies in Wales.

‘We applaud Cadw’s achievements in conservation and presentation of its major monuments and we would consider its guidebooks to be among the very best, skilfully combining scholarship with attractiveness and accessibility. They are a model of how to increase popularity without ‘dumbing down’. We are also happy to see the greater use of historic sites for appropriate ‘events’.

‘Cadw’s work on the restoration and repair of monuments in its care is now of the highest order. Plas Mawr at Conwy, for instance, is exemplary in its academic integrity and communication of ideas and dilemmas to a host of interested visitors each year. However sites like Deganwy Castle, more significant on a historical scale but where little remains for visitors to see, remain a problem, which Cadw may wish to address in the future.

‘The achievements of the re-survey of Listed Buildings was praised, although some concern was expressed that the use of consultants with little local knowledge may jeopardise some of the results of the work.

‘The CBA strongly supports the philosophy which lies behind the Landscape Registers compiled jointly with CCW and ICOMOS and applaud Cadw’s involvement with schemes such as Tir Gofal.

‘In view of Cadw’s impressive publication record and its fine monument presentation the CBA finds it reprehensible that the organisation does not employ an Education Officer to capitalise on these assets. Not only is there a need for an officer, but also for an educational policy and strategy which could inform all Cadw’s work and enhance their communication with the public.

‘As a group of archaeological professionals and concerned amateurs the CBA has cordial relations with the staff of Cadw. However we have observed that the general public tends to see Cadw as a restrictive organisation, rather than as a group of experts who can offer help and advice. The Field Monument Wardens and the current programme of ‘Caring for’ leaflets have gone some way towards dispelling this impression but this attitude remains a problem for Cadw, as for many other government departments.

‘Cadw, as presently constituted, has a primary responsibility to administer the Acts which protect Scheduled Ancient Monuments and Listed Buildings. This work is of course essential but we would welcome a flexibility of approach which allowed more work of analysis to underpin the management and enhancement of the Schedule and Listings, and of the historic environment generally. While such work should be the product of a partnership between many organisations, (universities, museums and private scholars as well as government bodies) there is a need to place research and the guidance of research among the roles of all National Assembly bodies. This is not a change which requires large amounts of public money, but it is in our view essential to the better understanding, management, conservation and presentation of the historic environment of Wales’.

The response concluded by reiterating some of its major points:

Frances Lynch, Chairman

A Research Agenda for Wales – progress report

The last CBA Wales newsletter reported on the successful conference held by the IFA Wales/Cymru Group in September of last year. The general consensus of the conference was that there was a need for a research agenda for Welsh archaeology and a Steering Group was set up to take the initiative forward. The Steering Group needs to be as representative as possible of all the different facets of Welsh archaeology and is, of necessity, a fairly fluid body. It has met on three occasions since the conference and, generally speaking, has included representatives from Cadw, the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments, the National Museums and Galleries of Wales, the Welsh Archaeological Trusts, the Universities, National Parks and the Independent and Commercial sectors.

A number of models have been discussed for the formation of a research agenda, along the lines of the Regional Research Frameworks currently underway in England. The preferred option is based on that currently under development for the West Midlands, consisting of a three-stage approach. A resource audit collates already available data probably, for ease of use, on a period by period basis. This is then used to inform the research assessment, which will take the format of four regionally based seminars at which invited speakers will be asked to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses and biases of our current knowledge. The next stage will extend across Wales as a whole, as common themes arising from the regional seminars are discussed. Themes from both the pan-Wales and the regional discussions will feed into the development of the research agenda and strategy.

The first stage, the resource audit, is to be funded by Cadw and carried out by the Welsh Archaeological Trusts. As with all stages of the process, the emphasis is on co-operation and consultation and the role of the Trusts is seen as co-ordinating and bringing together information from a wide variety of sources. The research assessment regional seminars will provide the opportunity for regional and local societies to get involved with the process, as well as the university departments, local contracting units and independent archaeologists. This stage, it is hoped, will be organised and hosted by the Universities, who will also have a significant input into the third stage, the details of which have yet to be finalised.

The English models have all identified a part-time co-ordinator to keep the process on track and heading in the right direction. In the absence of such a post in Wales, it is very much up to the organisations and individuals involved to keep up the momentum. The process to date has benefited greatly from the support of key organisations like Cadw, RCAHMW and NMGW and others in making staff time available, indeed we would not have made such progress without it. The potential benefit to Welsh archaeology, not only through the development of the research agenda itself but also through the increased communication and co-operation between different sectors and organisations that the process requires, seems to be a great motivating factor.

The time-scale is for the first two stages to be completed by the end of this year and for the pan-Wales stage to take place in the Spring 2003. Watch this space for further progress reports!

Kate Geary, Chair IFA Wales

European Pathways to Cultural Landscapes

This three-year project is being funded as part of the European Union¹s Culture 2000 programme, with match-funding from Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments. The main aim of the project is to explore opportunities for public participation in their local cultural landscapes in poorer areas of Europe (Wales qualifies because of its Objective One status), and to share experiences and approaches to the subject across the European Union. To this end, this project is a joint undertaking involving twelve projects in ten countries (Germany, Sweden, Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, England, Ireland and Wales), making this the largest project funded under the Culture 2000 programme. Each individual project has its own aims, timetable and work programme which fit together to form a larger umbrella project, and regular liaison between partners involves email contact, a joint web site (, leaflet publication and a series of six seminars hosted by different partners. The project takes as its starting point the definition of landscape included in Article 1 of the Draft European Landscape Convention:

For the purposes of the Convention:
a. "Landscape" means an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and / or human factors;
and the scope as defined in Article 2
Subject to the provisions contained in Article 16 the Convention applies to the entire territory of the Parties and covers natural, rural, urban and peri-urban areas. It includes land, inland water and marine areas. It concerns landscapes that might be considered as everyday or degraded, as well as outstanding ones, since they all influence the quality of the surroundings in which people live.

The Trust’s project builds on the historic landscape characterisation work which we have been carrying out recently, and the European funding is intended to take this a step further by involving the public in exploring what they understand by ‘cultural landscapes’. The area chosen for the project lies on the edge of a protected landscape (Snowdonia National Park), and has a rich and diverse character. North-west Wales probably contains some of the finest cultural landscapes in Britain, with areas of ‘relict’ prehistoric and medieval settlement and field systems and decaying industrial (slate-quarrying) landscapes, as well as the rural ‘background’ which still retains many of the elements which demonstrate chronological depth in the landscape. The area involved is bounded by Caernarfon in the north, Snowdon in the east and Aberdesach in the south west, and is centred on the former slate-quarrying area of Dyffryn Nantlle.

The status of the region as an Objective 1 area serves to underline its relative poverty in European terms, with principal problems being the crisis in farming, with falling incomes, and the social exclusion being experienced in the former slate-quarrying communities. The European-funded Slate Valleys Initiative is trying to address the situation, and is aimed at regenerating local economies by encouraging locally-based work and employment opportunities, rather than trying to attract companies from outside to move in. This Pathways project aims to add value to this by providing a means whereby the historic environment would be a dimension of this economic regeneration, through ‘niche’ tourism, for example, creating jobs which, at the same time, ensure the survival of the cultural landscape. It will also contribute to a sense of community value and local pride.

Archaeologists cannot protect cultural landscapes on their own, but they form part of a wider community (which includes government agencies, local authorities, utility groups, local community, and landowners) which has a role and responsibility in understanding, interpreting and managing change in the landscape. Archaeologists need to engage with these others in creating a vision and achieving a balance between conservation and economic development.

Our role, as archaeologists, must be to influence landowners, decision-makers, grant-awarders and the public, and to provide information to ensure that the value of the historic dimension of landscape is fully recognised in all aspects of countryside management. We must ensure that the contribution of the historic environment to the quality of people’s lives is maximised; people should be encouraged to recognise and value the importance of the historic environment, and that includes the typical and commonplace along with those elements considered to be of national importance. We must try to help reconcile the potentially conflicting demands of development and conservation and ensure that we bequeath a sustainable landscape for the benefit of future generations. Above all, we must recognise that fostering awareness and interest amongst landowners and managers, and encouraging public support, are the most important long-term investments we can make.

For this to happen, two things are necessary. Firstly, we need to establish an inclusive definition of what people understand by the term ‘cultural landscape’, and secondly, the information must be communicated to the public. This can be done in a number of ways through ‘physical pathways’ such as books, exhibitions, guidance, leaflets, trails, guided walks, and web pages. These pathways point the way and give access to the experience of the historic environment at first hand.

The Trust intends to develop a methodology for involving the public in the interpretation and conservation of their own local cultural landscapes, using historic landscape characterisation as a tool. Characterisation work is being undertaken by professional archaeologists as a first part of the project, and presented to local communities who will then be invited to define what they see as important in their local cultural landscape, what identifies community and contributes to ‘sense of place’ and how they want to see it evolve. In particular, the project will aim to demonstrate clearly the relevance of cultural landscape to sustainable development, and the general well-being of society.

The results of this work will be available in several formats, each with a distinct aim. A web site will be reproduced, as will a high-quality publication describing the development of the cultural landscape in the area; both supported a seminar and a series of lectures. It will also be important to establish a series of footpaths and cycle routes, supplemented by explanatory leaflets, so that people can experience these cultural landscapes first-hand.

David Thompson, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust

Defence of Britain Conference: Imperial War Museum, London - November 24, 2001

Organised by the national CBA, this day conference was held to mark the end of the fieldwork phase of the project.

Andrew Saunders, former Chairman of the Fortress Study Group, Richard Morris, Vice-President of the Council for British Archaeology, and William Foot, Defence of Britain Project Manager started proceedings by covering the background to the project, and summarising the work undertaken to date. The conception of this pioneering project by members of the Fortress Study Group, and the role played in its development and administration by the CBA were highlighted. The lessons learned from the project, its results, legacy, and initiatives being developed from it were discussed. Details of the Defence of Britain database were impressive, and gave some idea of the amount of work done by project staff and volunteer recorders. We were informed that the project database now had roughly 22,000 entries, of which 14,000 were anti-invasion sites; this being complemented by 10,000 photographs.

The second section of the conference comprised a series of regional case-studies, covering various aspects of the project, and a range of 20th century anti-invasion defences. The naval base at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys, and the work of the Defence of Britain project in Northern Ireland and Worcestershire, were all of great interest to the audience. Roger Thomas and Medwyn Parry provided us with a double act for Wales, highlighting the variation in anti-invasion defences across the country. Roger discussed south Wales, in particular the Carmarthen stop-line (a defensive line of obstacles and pillboxes), similar to stop-lines in England. Medwyn completed the picture by explaining how in the north, the natural landscape was used as the main barrier against invaders, with a little help from strategically placed road-blocks, anti-tank obstacles and gun emplacements (due to time-tabling problems Medwyn was ousted from his allotted speaking-slot, and we had to wait anxiously until the end of the day for his contribution! See also his article below.).

Speakers from the national heritage agencies provided details of current and future initiatives to conserve and protect 20th century military remains. It was evident that English Heritage had stolen a march (as it were) on the other agencies, with a series of Military Evaluation Programmes. These studies of particular site types are being used to assess the number and condition of surviving examples, recognise the most important, and recommend them for statutory protection as part of EH’s Monuments Protection Programme (MPP). Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments intend to embark on a programme of statutory protection for 20th century military sites early in 2002.

The final part of the day saw Professor Richard Holmes give a short speech placing British anti-invasion defences within the wider context of the Second World War. HRH the Duke of Gloucester gave the closing address, and CBA President Dr. Francis Pryor led the audience in a show of thanks to all the speakers for a valuable, interesting and successful day.

Jeff Spencer - Gwynedd Archaeological Trust

The Defence of Britain: the Welsh aspect

In the first half of this century, in space of only a few generations, the landscape of Britain was changed like never before, by a huge variety of constructions. These structures were built purely for their functional, rather than aesthetic qualities, and were only designed to last for the duration. As a consequence of the urgent building schedule and wartime restrictions, no detailed records were kept of these defensive systems. The remains are a vital source of information about momentous episodes in our national history. They are under constant threat from coastal erosion, natural decay, land development and the impact of agriculture. Collectively, they are a vital but neglected source of historical and archaeological information.

The Defence of Britain Project was launched at the Imperial War Museum in 1995, co-ordinated on behalf of the CBA and the Fortress Study Group, at the Imperial War Museum site at Duxford by a small team under the strategic direction of a consortium representing voluntary and public bodies. Its aim is to compile a database which records, as comprehensively as possible, twentieth century defensive sites of the UK, which will be available for a variety of purposes such as assistance with conservation strategies, planning decisions, an aid to listing and scheduling, and encouraging further research and stimulating public interest in issues concerning national historic heritage. Project records will supplement the National Monuments Records of the United Kingdom and the Sites and Monuments Records.

The anti-invasion works on the west coast of Wales are an interesting contrast to the GHQ lines in the SE of England. There they were facing an all-conquering enemy, which was firmly established just a short distance over the English Channel. However, in Wales the perceived threat was from the west. General Sir Edmund Ironside, Commander-in-Chief Home Forces, believed that an invasion of Ireland was imminent, which would effectively surround the UK, and so a three-pronged seabourne invasion was expected, from Norway, France and Ireland.

The likely invasion beaches of Wales were closed off, mined, and anti-tank defences installed, often augmented by inland stoplines and pillboxes. Of course this was by no means a new idea, from the very beginning, basic military strategic rules have not materially altered. The Romans built a linear defensive group, Hadrian’s Wall, a ditch backed by a wall. In itself, this cannot be defended unless there is a vast standing army, several ranks deep, shoulder to shoulder along its entire length.

The stoplines in South Wales comprise mainly lengthy stretches of ditches, anti-tank cubes and pillboxes. However, in North Wales the terrain is used to advantage, with the strongpoints concentrated in the mountain passes, typically the collection of pillboxes and spigot mortar sites at Nant Ffrancon.

Nant Ffrancon pillbox Left: Pillbox at Nant Ffrancon.
Right: Spigot mortar base at Nant Ffrancon. Nant Ffrancon mortar base.

Following a meeting with Cadw, Roger Thomas (RCHME) & Medwyn Parry (Defence of Britain Regional co-ordinator for Wales) were invited to undertake a survey an anti-invasion stop-line. It was felt that the stop-lines that ran through the urban areas, though well documented, would have been at least partially destroyed by development. The Rhos-Llangeler stop-line was an ideal candidate. An article in the 1990 edition of Carmarthenshire Antiquity gave a tantalizing glimpse of what could survive. The pillboxes, strongpoints and nodal points were well known and had been recorded for the Defence of Britain Project, so there only remained the "filling in of the gaps". Trawling through the RAF vertical aerial photography of 1946 & 1947 revealed excellent cover along the whole 45km length of the trench from the tidal zone of the River Tywi in the south (running almost due north) to the coast at Llangranog, Cardiganshire in the north. Although much of it had recently been infilled, the remains were highlighted as cropmarks or shallow depressions on the ground. Even by looking at the vertical photographs it was clear that this, just as with many other stop-lines, used natural features and the terrain itself to augment the defences. (See cover photograph.)

The line was drawn on to large-scale Ordnance Survey maps and field walked over a period of two days, in the low winter sunlight. Even on foot the long stretches of trench were evident. Further discoveries at the standing remains were also made during this time, especially near Cynwyl Elfed, a vital nodal point on the line. Just south of the village there is a Type 24 pillbox, with a small rectangular plan position protecting its flank, anti-tank girders placed in the river, picket posts on both banks of the river, and, a short distance away, further anti-tank girders & picket posts, with coils of wartime barbed wire still lying on the ground, ready for use.

A benefit of having a fragmented line was that small stretches could be checked, recorded and catalogued individually, then grouped together to form a continuous feature. On completion of the survey the results were checked, then sent off to the DoB for inclusion in the database. Recording was completed in December 2001, when RCAHMW Air Photography Unit overflew the whole line.

Occasionally a civil engineering project does not destroy a small site. At Ciliau Aeron, east of Aberaeron, a road-widening scheme revealed the presence of a Type 24 pillbox. Because of its remote location, and that it was hidden in dense commercial forestry, it was discovered in remarkably good condition - to the extent of even retaining the original wooden shelves and hinged supporting brackets below each of the firing loops.

After the end of the hostilities some abandoned military establishments soon found other uses. Many enterprising Welsh farmers took advantage of the legacy of buildings, the internal roadway systems, drainage etc., and a number of holiday caravan parks sprung up along the coastal belt.

A typical example is the former Royal Marines Artillery Training Centre (Burma Camp) at Llwyngwiril, where a stone Globe & Laurel crest still stands beside the old parade ground, an abandoned observation post looks out to the Irish Sea, where landing craft practice was carried out, and nearby old Bofors Anti Aircraft gun emplacement bases on the beach have been converted to a picnic area.

The Project deals with one of the great might-have-beens of history, attracting the attention of people whose interest until now has been only fleeting. The reason for this fascination is that the defence of Britain has touched everyone, from veterans who remember major global conflicts of the century, to children who still pass pillboxes on their way to school. Also, the human story gives it interest and a timely reminder of how things might have been which gives it an enduring value.

Twenty or thirty years ago the Second World War was remembered by millions as a recent event, in which many had been directly involved. Memories of those who took part in the building or manning of the installations are fading fast, and eyewitness evidence will soon be rare.

If the project leads to greater public consciousness of our historic environment, the recording of our historic but hitherto neglected military structures, and wider membership of the many participating organisations, then it will have achieved more than any other enterprise of this kind in the last fifty years.

Medwyn Parry - Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments Wales

Parks and Gardens: Does Anybody Care?

The Gwynedd branch of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust (WHGT), led by myself (as Development Control person) and the branch Committee, has, with the National Chairman and others, taken every step open to it over the last few years to encourage Gwynedd Council and the owners of Vaynol Park, Felinheli, near Bangor, take seriously the latter’s status as a Grade I registered park/garden on the Cadw/ICOMOS Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales. These have all failed, and when the latest application, for a huge warehouse and car park covering over 3.5 hectares, was passed, the branch felt it was time to take action. On investigation we felt that the Council had not followed standard procedures in granting consent, such that proper consideration had not been given to representations from a number of bodies, including the WHGT. On this basis we were advised by a barrister that we had a good case for a Judicial Review. We also advised the local government Ombudsman, who is currently investigating.

With preparation for the Judicial Review well under way, there was a flurry of communication between the Council, the developers of the scheme and the WHGT. The implication was that the Council and the developers were significantly concerned about the Judicial Review, and hopes were high at the WHGT branch that some positive outcome may be reached with regard to protection of the historic park.

However, following direct lobbying by the Council and the developers, the National Chair of the WHGT requested that the solicitors acting for the local branch call off the action. This decision seems extraordinary and members of the branch who have put considerable effort into the case feel that it is hard to understand what the national WHGT body expects to gain by calling off the Judicial Review, or what it expected to lose by continuing with the action. The decision may have cost the WHGT its credibility and there is a danger that it will send the message either that initial assessment of the situation was wrong, and it is acceptable to build huge warehouses in Grade I registered parks, or that it can be influenced by strong lobbying. Either is a disaster for the garden heritage of Wales as they both show the WHGT to be ineffectual. If the WHGT would not pursue a Judicial Review in this case then local authorities everywhere may deduce that it never will, and as Judicial Review is the only means by which to challenge planning consent once granted, they need pay no more than lip service to the recommendations of their consultees.

More immediately, our worries are that the park at Vaynol is now a lost cause. The northernmost part has already been made into a business estate, but what remained was largely unspoilt and retained its historic integrity. However, following on from the warehouse, now under construction, we fear that the remaining northern part is also to be developed, with the blessing of the WDA, as a blue-chip business park. This will meet the recent outward development from the house so that the entire area to the north of the 16th-century Old Hall will be built on, right up to the historic buildings.

Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments commented on the warehouse plan but it too seems to have failed to back up its initial opposition to the development. All in all this is a sad story of collective failure to take decisive action when it was clearly called for and had even been well begun, and it has resulted firstly in the loss to development of a Grade I registered park and secondly in the general weakening of the position of heritage bodies in relation to development in Wales.

Margaret Mason
Pwllheli, Gwynedd

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