Policy Round-up: March 2019
March has been a busy month on all fronts for Historic Houses, as it has been for the nation.
We began the month with a Board away day at Combermere Abbey, which provided a timely opportunity for the Board and our leadership team to reflect on the progress Historic Houses has made over the last two years, and to focus on our plans for the future. It was useful to reflect on the progress we have made in our policy work – particularly in ramping up our Heritage Maintenance Funds campaign – and to discuss how we will continue to focus on building that momentum and growing awareness of our member houses in Westminster and Whitehall.
As part of this awareness-raising work we’ve been out on the road this month, visiting house members Muncaster Castle and Pitchford Hall to film short videos as part of our Heritage Maintenance Funds campaign. Despite the best efforts of one of Muncaster’s famous ghosts – Tom Fool, aka Thomas Skelton – to interfere with our equipment, our camera crew won the day and we captured some really fantastic footage at both houses.
Away from policy, mid-month we travelled to Oxford to join fellow heritage organisations and academics, artists and curators to discuss how heritage attractions can build on the legacies of last year’s focus on women’s stories (marking the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act), and continue to integrate diverse women’s stories into broad national narratives; find out more here.
Back to policy, and we have responded to some really important consultations this month. The National Planning Framework for Scotland is due to be reviewed this year, and our submission to the consultation highlighted the need for active conservation in planning, balanced with protection for heritage assets. We also submitted a detailed response to a consultation looking at the prospect of introducing Conservation Covenants in England, followed closely by a submission of written evidence to the Treasury Select Committee’s Inquiry looking at the impact of business rates on businesses.
The UK Heritage Awards towards the end of the month celebrated the achievements of many of our house members, and we were thrilled to see how many won their categories. You can find out more about the awards and the winners on the UK Heritage Awards website.
Finally, this week we’ve been celebrating the start of English Tourism Week, an annual celebration of the contribution that the tourism sector makes to local and national economies in England. Historic Houses places across the country have welcomed their local MPs on visits, highlighting at first-hand the contribution that historic houses make to their communities and the unique challenges involved in looking after nationally important buildings. Follow us on Twitter for #EnglishTourismWeek19 updates!
Emma and Polly, the policy team