Architectural Conservation

Issues and Developments

Edited by Vincent Shacklock

Managing Editor Jill Pearce


A special issue of the Journal of Architectural Conservation

Volume 12 Number 3 November 2006



Foreword: Lessons from York Minster, 1965–1972   Sir Bernard Feilden

Facing up to Challenges in Architectural Conservation   Vincent Shacklock

Personal Perspectives  

Protecting the Historic Environment: The Legacy of W. G. Hoskins   Malcolm Airs

The Context for Skills, Education and Training   John Preston

What Direction for Conservation? Some Questions   Bob Kindred

The American Contrast   Donovan D. Rypkema

All Rosy in the Garden? The Protection of Historic Parks and Gardens
David Lambert and Jonathan Lovie

SAVE Britain’s Heritage and the Amenity Societies   Adam Wilkinson

Scientific Research into Architectural Conservation   Peter Brimblecombe and Carlota M. Grossi

Appendix: The Listing of Buildings   Bob Kindred


Read the Introduction by Vincent Shacklock


Abstracts and Author Information


Protecting the Historic Environment

The Legacy of W. G. Hoskins

Malcolm Airs


Landscape history as an academic discipline effectively began with the publication in 1955 of The Making of the English Landscape written by W. G. Hoskins. It was a highly influential book, shaping the way that a whole generation has managed the inherited historic environment. With 50 years having passed since the publication of the book and major legislative changes on the horizon, this is an appropriate moment to reflect on the development of the conservation movement, and to speculate on some of the challenges that need to be faced over the next half-century. The evolution of the mechanisms for statutory protection under the impetus of changing public opinion and academic scholarship are explored. New political imperatives such as regeneration, sustainability and social inclusion are discussed, alongside the impact of the media and the National Lottery in creating a climate where positive change is embraced as part of a process of greater understanding of the environment.


Malcolm Airs MA, DPhil, FSA, FRHS, IHBC

Malcolm began his career as a historian with the GLC (1966–74) before working as a conservation officer with South Oxfordshire District Council (1974–91). He has been a Commissioner of the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and has served on the advisory committees of English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Conference on Training in Architectural Conservation (COTAC), the Architects Registration Council of the United Kingdom (ARCUK), and the National Trust. He is a past President of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation and is currently Professor of Conservation and the Historic Environment at the University of Oxford.


The Context for Skills, Education and Training

John Preston


Conservation skills remain in short supply within the construction industry. Progress in increasing the number of professionals with conservation expertise has generally been disappointing. The challenges relating to availability of conservation craft skills have been quantified, but as yet there is no holistic analysis of skills needs for the sector. Potential support for skills development has not materialized because the government has not been convinced of the case for building conservation, repairs and maintenance to be considered as a sector in its own right. Efforts to improve skills levels through accreditation have, as yet, failed to make significant impact.


John Preston MA, DipTP, MRTPI, IHBC, FRSA

John Preston studied architecture and art history before becoming a planner and then a conservation officer. He is Education Chair for the IHBC and a trustee of the Conference on Training in Architectural Conservation (COTAC). He is Historic Environment Manager for Cambridge City Council.


What Direction for Conservation?

Some Questions

Bob Kindred


The relationship between the government and the heritage sector over matters of legislation and policy has been characterized, since the nineteenth century, by attitudes ranging from diffidence to indifference to (at some stages) outright hostility. The present system of heritage protection has evolved imperfectly, but without evident serious difficulties – almost in spite of the government rather than because of it. Eventually, the government’s decision to create an ‘arm’s-length’ organization (quango) in English Heritage to act as its lead adviser gave the sector an independent voice, but this has proved increasingly less effective. The organization has been penalized financially for its inability to conform to the government’s deregulatory and re-organizational expectations, with significant consequences for the health of the sector overall. In the last decade, much greater reliance has been placed on proceeds from the National Lottery to fund heritage projects. This funding is now under two threats. Firstly, there is a belief within government that heritage problems have now largely been solved by this largesse from gambling. Secondly, the impending scale of infrastructure investment in the 2012 London Olympics will consequently significantly reduce funding for heritage. Although this loss of resources could have been partly made good by reducing the burden of VAT, the government has allowed ill-informed prejudice to guide its policies, while its obsession with target setting for the sector, particularly the local authorities, has been misguided and unproductive.


Bob Kindred MBE, BA, IHBC, MRTPI

Bob Kindred has headed the Conservation Service in Ipswich since 1987. He was formerly editor of Context, the professional journal of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, for a decade until 2000, and is a member of the Institute’s Council and Policy Committee. He is one of five Heritage Advisors to the Local Government Association and Special Advisor to the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Inquiry into Heritage Reform 2006.


The American Contrast

Donovan D. Rypkema


Advocates for historic preservation in the United States have always looked to Europe in general and the United Kingdom in particular for guidance in conserving our valuable, albeit young, architectural heritage. The goals of US preservationists are substantially the same as those in the UK – to identify, protect and enhance our historic built environment. But the means of achieving those goals are decidedly different. To put it in oversimplified terms: in the UK, the process is largely national, top-down, regulation-driven and carried out by the public sector; in the US, the process is largely local, bottom-up, incentive-driven and carried out by the private sector. These contrasts are driven by multiple causes, but they fundamentally reflect the US commitment to the rights of ownership versus the British commitment to the responsibilities of stewardship. The US approach is neither better nor worse, but it has evolved to respond to the political and philosophical realities of the United States.


Donovan Rypkema

Donovan Rypkema is principal of PlaceEconomics, an economic development-consulting firm specializing in services to clients dealing with city centre revitalization and the reuse of historic structures.


All Rosy in the Garden?

The Protection of Historic Parks and Gardens

David Lambert and Jonathan Lovie


In many ways, historic parks and gardens have thrived in the last 20 years, following a dawning of recognition heralded by the impact of the 1987 hurricanes. The English Heritage Register is now a material consideration in planning decisions, local authorities have included it in the development planning and control processes; the voluntary sector is thriving as county gardens trusts blossom, while the Garden History Society is now a statutory consultee on planning applications and a well-established part of the national amenity societies scene. High-profile restoration projects and the generosity of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards urban parks have raised public awareness to a welcome degree.

But that is not the whole story. English Heritage is cutting resources, the HLF is tightening its belt, the National Trust is struggling to maintain standards – and in all these cases, parks and gardens tend to bear the brunt. At a local level, planning authorities, still hamstrung by the dearth of conservation expertise, struggle to resist harmful development proposals, or even to identify their stock of historic parks and gardens. After successful planning battles which established the sensitivity of these sites in the 1980s and 1990s, the tide of big and damaging leisure proposals is rising again. This paper, by the former and current conservation officers of the Garden History Society, reviews progress in garden conservation since the 1960s and offers a snapshot of the present situation.


David Lambert

David Lambert is a director of the Parks Agency, and was previously conservation officer for the Garden History Society. He is a member of the advisory panels on parks and gardens for both English Heritage and the National Trust.

Jonathan Lovie

Jonathan Lovie holds degrees from the University of St Andrews, including an Mphil awarded for a thesis based on original historical research. Since 1994, he has developed a consultancy undertaking historic landscape research. Since 2004 he has been Principal Conservation Officer and Policy Advisor for the Garden History Society. He lectures on research and conservation of historic landscapes at the Architectural Association, Bath University and Oxford University.


SAVE Britain’s Heritage and the Amenity Societies

Adam Wilkinson


Effective conservation depends upon a committed, educated and inspired voluntary sector, capable of handling casework on a daily basis, reacting to urgent threats and undertaking or commissioning research projects as circumstances demand. SAVE Britain’s Heritage is part of this movement; yet it is distinct in its methods. It is long established but unconventional, playing its role in a bold fashion now recognized as the hallmark of its operations. Since SAVE’s founding in 1975, threats to the historic environment have become ever greater and more sophisticated, prompting SAVE (and the amenity movement as a whole) to become ever more professional and effective with their resources. As new threats emerge, SAVE and other amenity bodies incur greater workloads in responding to development proposals and in educating and informing decision-makers and the public. This paper first considers the value and role of amenity societies generally before exploring the work of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, and the manner in which it applies its ideas, convictions and resources.


Adam Wilkinson MA, MSc

Adam Wilkinson has been Secretary of SAVE Britain’s Heritage since 2001, having previously worked at UNESCO in Paris. He serves on the Churches Conservation Trust Conservation Advisory Committee, is a Trustee of the Mausolea and Monuments Trust, a director of Maintain our Heritage and the author of several SAVE reports.


Scientific Research into Architectural Conservation

Peter Brimblecombe and Carlota M. Grossi


A comprehensive research agenda is needed that balances past achievements with emerging issues of the future. Although the strengths of current research are worth highlighting, it is equally important to understand the weaknesses and major gaps in the research on conserving the built environment. In particular, the lack of an overall research strategy, inadequate funding and poor translation of research into policy and practice are key problems. Strategies for the future need to allow the research agenda for the historic environment to be both focused and effective. An analysis of European research can be found in the EU Parliament’s Scientific and Technological Options Assessment Panel (STOA) report of 2001: Technological requirements for solutions in the conservation and protection of historic monuments and archaeological remains, while in the UK, English Heritage has published its strategy as Discovering the Past, Shaping the Future. There is a range of new research needed, from work on philosophical, social and management issues to science and technology. The field also continues to lack good publications for communicating its research output to the end users.


Professor Peter Brimblecombe BSc, MSc, PhD

Peter Brimblecombe is a professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of East Anglia with a particular interest in the relationship between air pollution and cultural heritage.

Dr Carlota M. Grossi BSc, MSc, PhD

Carlota Grossi is a senior research associate at the University of East Anglia. Her specialty is building stone decay and conservation. 

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