Policy Round Up: November 2019

  • 01 Dec 2019
  • Article

November saw the biggest event in the Historic Houses calendar, as hundreds of members and stakeholders gathered at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster for our national AGM. We welcomed the Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society, Sue Biggs CBE, who spoke about the history and vision of the RHS, followed by the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon of Highclere Castle, who spoke about their impressively diverse commercial activities.

A week after our AGM we were again celebrating the diverse activities of Historic Houses places, as we unveiled Bell House in Dulwich as the winner of this year’s Frances Garnham Award. This Award, which is named after our former Director of Policy and Campaigns, celebrates innovation in learning or community engagement. Bell House impressed our Learning Advisory Panel with the reach and creativity of its offer to the local community, specialising in dyslexia support but also offering cookery classes, filmmaking, garden volunteering and much more. Applications will open soon for the 2020 Frances Garnham Award; if you’re interested in putting your house or garden forward, please email emma.robinson@historichouses.org

Despite the suspension of most government consultations due to purdah, we have been kept busy developing ongoing collaborative projects to tackle challenges within our sector. Our work with Historic England and the Historic Environment Forum is making strides towards simplifying the listed building consent process, and we’ve been contributing to various cross-sector meetings to collect evidence on Energy Performance Certificates for a forthcoming consultation. Other meetings this month have included VisitEngland’s English Destinations Forum, a Tourism Alliance research seminar, a Heritage Alliance roundtable on health and wellbeing work in the sector, and a meeting at DCMS on developing Cultural Heritage Capital methodology.

Looking ahead to December, we’re busy making preparations for the upcoming general election – and scenario planning for what may happen after it. We have been engaging with all the major parties and sector stakeholders throughout the campaign period, and have produced a suite of policy cards to highlight our core campaigns. We were pleased to see our Heritage Maintenance Funds campaign feature prominently as a key ask in both the Tourism Alliance and Heritage Alliance manifestos, and we look forward to working closely with sector colleagues to push this campaign forward in the new year. In the meantime, we’re busy preparing for all political eventualities following 12 December.

Emma and Lydia, the policy team

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