Briefing Note: EUROPEAN STRUCTURAL AND INVESTMENT FUND (ESIF): THE GROWTH PROGRAMME

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced, on 27 July, a £24 million package of grants under the ESIF growth programme. The scheme, administered by the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), initially opened in March with grants totalling £3.6 million in 5 LEPs. The most recent announcement will see calls for grant applications in three areas: tourism (infrastructure and support); small business development; and food processing.

Historic Environment (Wales) Bill, policy and guidance

The CLA, though generally supportive of the intentions behind this Bill, is concerned that some of the powers it contains could have unintended consequences for heritage and for its owners, and that strong guidance and potentially amendment are essential if it is to work.  More fundamentally, the CLA criticises the Bill's failure to address the serious, widely-acknowledged, and growing problems in the heritage consent system;  Welsh Government needs to work with stakeholders to devise and implement a system that can work properly in the future.  At the same time, the CLA welcomes proposed changes to Planning Policy Wales and other guidance, although further work is needed on these to ensure that they fully encompass the need for heritage to be viable, relevant, resilient, and sympathetically changed, and the importance of proportionality. 

 

Historic England Enhanced Advisory Services

Historic England is proposing to establish, from July 2015, four new Enhanced Advisory Services, allowing owners to seek fast-track listing of buildings, better list descriptions, or additional pre-application advice beyond a free 15-hour allowance.  This CLA response broadly supports the proposals, but stresses the importance of defining and monitoring the free services - as Historic England has promised - to ensure that its free services do not deteriorate.

Historic England Enhanced Advisory Services (2015)

Historic England is proposing to establish, from July 2015, four new Enhanced Advisory Services, allowing owners to seek fast-track listing of buildings, better list descriptions, or additional pre-application advice beyond a free 15-hour allowance.  This CLA response broadly supports the proposals, but stresses the importance of defining and monitoring the free services - as Historic England has promised - to ensure that its free services do not deteriorate.

Making changes to heritage assets and conservation area designation

Following the publication of the NPPF and its Guidance in 2012-14, Historic England (previously English Heritage) is reviewing all its guidance.  That is welcome, and this CLA response finds the first of these two draft advice documents, Making changes to heritage assets, broadly satisfactory, though the details need some amendment.  The other, on Conservation area designation and management, is fundamentally deficient, over-encouraging conservation area designation without consideration of the costs, and discouraging change within conservation areas.

Making changes to heritage assets; and conservation area designation (April 2015)

Following the publication of the NPPF and its Guidance in 2012-14, Historic England (previously English Heritage) is reviewing all its guidance.  That is welcome, and this CLA response finds the first of these two draft advice documents, Making changes to heritage assets, broadly satisfactory, though the details need some amendment.  The other, on Conservation area designation and management, is fundamentally deficient, over-encouraging conservation area designation without consideration of the costs, and discouraging change within conservation areas.

Next steps to zero carbon homes: small sites exemption

This consultation considers the way in which caveats to the forthcoming requirement for zero carbon homes, on new build sites, should be framed.  The CLA Housing Policy has a recommendation: "Code Level 3 for Sustainable Homes, or its equivalent, should remain the standard in rural areas until 2018 to give the Government time to model the effects of new-build standards on rural schemes, including analysis of renewable technology versus improved fabric".  This consultation response seeks to assist in the delivery of that recommendation.

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