Posts tagged #Listed Building

Snowballing...

Its been way too long since our last blog, due in no small part to an exceptionally busy spell, which has seen Armour Heritage venturing out to sites across the southwest, southeast and middle of England.

Over the last few months we’ve had a marked rise in commissions for Heritage Statements, with a variety of proposals from new builds within Conservation Areas, conversions of redundant Listed Buildings and demolition of Locally Listed Buildings to provide more sustainable 21st century living and working spaces. Although no two projects are the same, the bespoke assessments we provide our valued clients for each project in line with local planning policy and professional standards, allows an independent, NPPF compliant assessment of the proposal to be made, which consider both the positive outcomes and potential harm of any given proposal.

Needless to say, it’s not just been the desk based work which has kept us busy, and despite some challenging weather conditions we have also maintained a steady succession of fieldwork projects over the autumn/winter stint. Watching briefs, large open area excavation and historic building recording have all been completed as conditions of planning consents, and we have also been working on some predetermination fieldwork too, with trial trenching and geophysical surveys being undertaken to inform on the archaeological potential of specific projects.

All in all its been a remarkably busy and very positive start to 2018, and as we embark on our 6th trading year, we’re not snowed under, or snowed in, but things are happily snowballing…

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Summer's End (and time for daytime tv?)

After the brief UK event billed comically as ‘summer’ it feels like autumn’s here – all too soon clearly. With the change in the weather from damp and warm to damp and a bit chillier, we have something of a change in circumstances at the AH Offices in Trudoxhill, outside Frome, Somerset. 
After some time of being alone out here in the sticks, we’ve managed to let our downstairs offices/workshop area to a film and tv company from Glasgow who are around for the next couple of months filming a new series of daytime tv favourite ‘Money for Nothing’. The programme features the upcycling of what is basically junk into new saleable items, unlike our archaeology work which more often than not features the recycling of old(er) material into museum archive boxes, often never to be seen again! 
On the work front business remains brisk with a good cross-section of archaeology and heritage work coming our way. Some of our more interesting projects have involved some test-pitting alongside an old sea defence on the south coast, the refurbishment of a probably medieval barn, work on a new energy project for Keele University and an upcoming public enquiry for a mid-range housing development. All good then!
Of course the problem with the onset of autumn/winter is the shorter days and longer nights, both in respect of on-site working hours and with the need to drive long distances in the dark for site visits or to appraise historic buildings etc. I for one detest driving in the dark so roll on next summer!
 

We need to talk about setting...

It’s the last week of June and we’ve made it to halfway through what is turning out to be a very turbulent year politically. I’m pleased to report a steadier ship at Armour Heritage where we have maintained a relatively unbroken flow of work during the first six months of 2017. Nevertheless, we have noticed a change in focus in the day to day workload, particularly regarding Heritage Statements and desk based work, which is more often now centred around a specific heritage issue requiring a bespoke response in terms of our advice and output. Matters concerning the setting of heritage assets has been, as it so often is, our main focus. Much of our office-based work is broadly related to Listed Buildings and the need to make them compatible with 21st century living and sustainability, new builds and extensions to existing Listed or undesignated properties in Conservation Areas, or the impact of proposed new builds on specific heritage assets. 
In our day-to-day work AH produces a relatively large number of heritage statements, within the majority of which setting is an issue to a greater or lesser degree, and we are often surprised at the wide range of responses to the associated planning applications which will vary widely on a national, regional and local basis. We often find what we would regard as ‘non-issues’ blown out of all proportion and sites which we have advised as contentious sailing through planning with not so much as a comment, positive or negative, on our contribution.
It’s clear we’re not the only ones juggling with issues of setting, which is being widely debated in a number of heritage forums, due in part to the result of a landmark case in Derbyshire where a High Court judge recently overruled the planning inspector following a public enquiry which proposed up to 400 new homes close to a Grade I Listed Building, Derbyshire Hall. 
Whilst the Derbyshire Hall case concluded the Inspector had failed to focus on the "historic, social and economic connections" between the hall and the development site, the case also highlights the need for greater guidance on setting which is increasingly becoming a grey area in terms of planning policy, and which would benefit from further robust, rational and realistic scrutiny.
 

Spring has Sprung

It’s been a while since we’ve posted a blog, too long really but this reflects how busy the first three months of 2017 has been. At AH we’ve been juggling large and small fieldwork projects with an unusually high demand for heritage statements and desk based assessments so our team has been pretty much flat out since the start of the year – not complaining of course!
As ever, our workload has been a combination of new and returning clients, all whom have our undying gratitude for choosing AH to assist with their planning needs, be they planning conditions work that need discharging or advice and pre-planning documents relating to archaeology, designated sites and buildings or assessments of archaeological potential – everyone needs a heads-up when it comes to potential ‘buried’ costs!
Outside the sun is finally shining, the birds are singing (and visiting our office window feeder in droves) - even our office heating has at last been turned down!
There’s still a certain amount of uncertainty about what the future may hold, particularly with the final triggering of Article 50 but we remain positive – houses still need to be built, more so than ever if the media reports of a looming ‘housing crisis’ are to be believed and Listed Buildings and other properties in Conservation Areas still need to be assessed ahead of extension or refurbishment.
Speaking of Listed Buildings and Conservation Area issues, we were pleased to hear that the proposed total rebuild of the Grade II Listed Old Sardine Factory in East Looe, Cornwall (pictured), has finally accrued the funding necessary to complete the project. AH has been involved from the project’s inception and it has provided both interesting and challenging work, from initial assessment to the difficulties encountered when it became clear that the mid-19th century structure was irretrievably unstable, its foundations having been undermined by the tidal flow of the adjacent river. The building is now set for demolition and a Level 4 building survey will be completed prior to that, along with monitoring works and potentially an evaluation post-demolition. The building will unfortunately need to be de-Listed, a process not undertaken lightly by Historic England but this has proved to be the only safe and pragmatic course of action.
 

All in all a bright and varied first quarter to 2017 and we are looking forward to the next few months as large-scale excavation and evaluation work at our Littlehampton site resumes following a short hiatus. Ongoing work across a number of counties, including Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Devon, Bath & North East Somerset, Hampshire, Hertfordshire and the London Boroughs of Lewisham, Merton and the City of Westminster will keep us busy I’m sure.

The AH Tour of Britain

The Tour of Britain cycling event finishes in the World Heritage Site city of Bath later today, and as well as a guaranteed early finish for Team AH (big cycling fans that we are!), we’re also reminded of our own excursions around the UK over the last few months.

Although we’ve not made it into Scotland just yet, work continues apace across the much of the rest of the UK. Regionally, Greater London and Cornwall seem to top the bill although we still can’t put our finger on why, when you get one project in a certain area, another seems to quickly follow. Chaos theory perhaps…

One thing we find continually is the learning curve working nationally engenders. Our recent work in Greater London for example has been across a number of the suburbs – Greenwich, Charlton, Lewisham, Catford and Brockley, as well as more centrally with a site in historic Southwark. Each site came with its own specific set of challenges, due in part to their varied locations and in part to the variety of works proposed, which offered Conservation Area & Listed Building issues as well as some insights into some exceptional archaeological potential – particularly true in Southwark with our site adjacent to the former major Roman road of Watling Street. We’d recommend an excellent monograph produced by the Museum of London Archaeology Service (now MOLA) which reports on excavations on Great Dover Street, very close to our site, available here http://www.mola.org.uk/publications/romano-british-cemetery-watling-street-excavations-165-great-dover-street-southwark.

Amongst the subject matter we’ve been sifting through, the exponential expansion of the London Suburbs in the later 19th century has become clear, reflecting the desire of the wealthier to move away from the centre of the city and out into the leafier areas of Lewisham and other parts of what was then still Kent. Of interest also has been the changing face of the streetscape, both in the centre of the city with some iconic buildings being constructed in recent years (the Gherkin, the Shard etc), and the changes in the Georgian and Victorian terraces of the suburbs, often the result of bomb damage during the Blitz – Bombsight.org offers a good insight into this, particularly in conjunction with comparisons between pre-War and 1950s OS maps.

From the very beginnings of each new project at AH, and the journey it takes us on, we increasingly recognise the wealth of knowledge out there and the importance of maintaining all of our heritage resources, and good easy access to them.  They, like the whole of the heritage industry, rely on the support of both professionals and the public at large.