Policy Roundup: April 2022
April has seen many of our member houses re-open: sunny skies and the Easter bank holiday weekend has made the first few weeks of the season positive and we hope the visitor numbers will continue! Parliament has been on recess and prorogued for large swathes of the month, and with local elections on the horizon at the start of May, there’s plenty to keep us busy.
We continue to campaign on vital issues for historic house businesses: in April, we responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on ‘A New Deal for Tenants’, met with colleagues at VisitBritain, added our name to PitchUp’s campaign to extend permitted development rights for camping to 56 days and met with colleagues at Liquid Gas UK. The publication of the Rural Affairs APPG report into ‘Levelling Up the Rural Economy’ highlighted once again the urban/rural divide in policy-making and opportunity.
The publication of the government’s Energy Security Strategy confirmed what Historic Houses is already painfully aware of: the need to divest from fossil fuels. It was heartening to see fresh commitments to reviewing planning policy in the near future to ensure that it is less of a barrier to installing energy efficiency measures – even for listed buildings. We wrote to Greg Hands, Minister for Clean Energy and Growth, to express our support for this, and have also engaged with Ed Miliband, Shadow Secretary of State for Climate Change and Net Zero, to commend Labour’s emphasis on retrofit, which is also vital in achieving energy efficiency. Ongoing meetings with colleagues across the heritage sector about the issues posed by EPCs have been a theme of the past couple of months: member responses were greatly appreciated and we hope to begin some engagement work in the near future.
The Valuations Office Agency met with us again to discuss the ongoing business rates revaluation: draft ratings will be available at the end of the year and we are hopeful that the VOA will take into account the uncertain business conditions and mounting repairs and maintenance faced by historic house businesses.
May already looks to be a busy month for the policy team as we await the results of the local elections, the Queen’s Speech, the much anticipated Heritage Statement and respond to consultations on property income and a prospective online sales tax.
Sarah and James, the Policy Team