Yorkshire civic volunteers gather in Barnsley for the Big Conservation Conversation

There was an opportunity to explore something of Barnsley’s architecture and history when Dr John Tanner, from Barnsley Council’s Arts and Heritage Service, led a guided walk around one of the town’s conservation areas. Barnsley Civic Trust,  a small but very active organisation that was reformed in 2007 introduced the talks by explaining some of their work which includes an annual shop award; blue plaques being erected; hosting visits by other civic societies, and being represented on the town’s independent design panel.

Craig Broadwith, Historic Places Adviser, Historic England explained that 1 in 16 conservation areas is at risk. These are reviewed annually to establish their condition, vulnerability and trajectory. Local Authorities have the power to take action but often lack the resources to do so. This may be through Townscape Heritage Schemes, Article 4 Directions, refusing damaging planning applications and ensuring that new-build is properly integrated into the streetscape in conservation areas. Craig saw challenges from a number of directions – housing v heritage, growth v conservation areas and market failure v conservation areas, but he also saw solutions. For example, encouraging residential use for upper floors of old buildings (as at Little Germany in Bradford) and the use of local listed building consent orders.

Kevin Trickett outlined how civic societies can help conservation officers with local knowledge, continuity, acting honest brokers, and so on, even, if resources allowed, helping with conservation area appraisals.

Are you holding a Big Conservation Conversation? Let us know and we can send a speaker. Get in touch here. Remember that the next Yorkshire event will be in Hornsea on Saturday, 29th July. More information from Kevin Trickett here.