Policy Round-up: September 2019
September kicked off the back to school season and Historic Houses’ AGMs also returned after a summer break, with the head office team hitting the road to travel to the Thames and Chilterns, Cumbria, North West, Heart of England, South East and East Anglia AGMs over the last three weeks.
We began September with a visit to the Senedd in Cardiff for a productive ‘start of season’ meeting with our Wales Policy Adviser, Adrian Greason-Walker. Mid-month saw us travelling somewhat further afield, with a flying visit to Brussels for the European Historic Houses Association’s General Assembly, followed by a conference exploring the findings of a major new study looking at the economic and social impact of historic houses across Europe. This is the first pan-European study of its kind, and it was great to be able to contribute to the conference (our Director General, Ben Cowell, spoke during the event) along with colleagues from across Europe.
Back in Westminster we have been keeping our fingers firmly on the political pulse, tracking events in Parliament and beyond following the Supreme Court ruling on prorogation earlier this month. We have also been monitoring the Party conferences for policy issues that may impact our house members, and are preparing to reinstate our parliamentary engagement programme once the conference season has drawn to a close. Meanwhile, we’ve been busy continuing to work closely with officials at DCMS to ensure our house members remain briefed on how they can prepare for EU exit; log in to visit our dedicated Brexit advice page for house members (which is updated regularly with new guidance) or visit the government’s ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ portal.
This month we have also responded to several consultations, including one from Historic England on updated planning advice, and one looking at Arts Council England’s 10 year strategy. We also submitted a response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into sustainable tourism, making the case for improved public transport links, better use of brown signs, and listed building consent reform to aid heritage-led tourism. Meanwhile, we have been pressing on with our planning reform agenda alongside sector colleagues and Historic England, and are anticipating next steps ahead of a meeting of the Historic Environment Forum next month.
Following the launch of the new Tourism Sector Deal earlier this year, we attended a conference in Birmingham in mid-September, which was opened by the new Heritage Minister Helen Whately. Key speakers from the industry and government discussed the major themes of the Tourism Sector Deal, including the tourism data hub, accessibility, business visits and events and tourism zones. You can read our full report from the conference here.
Last but certainly not least, we were delighted to be involved in the launch of the Heritage Alliance’s new report looking at the symbiotic relationship between heritage and the creative industries. Emma spoke at the launch event at The Ragged School in London, highlighting some of the many examples of our house members’ creative projects in the countryside, and several Historic Houses member case studies feature on pages 12-15 of the report.Emma and Lydia, the policy team