IHBC Yearbook 2011

r e v i e w 13 Chair’s Review Jo Evans, IHBC Chair Much has changed since the publication of last year’s IHBC Yearbook. We have a new government, a new set of policies in the shape of PPS5, and a rather different economic climate. With it we have been encouraged to use a new set of words: coalition, heritage assets and localism for example. I know that the publication of the PPS brought with it much anxiety, confusion and even anger but as a result of lobbying, cajoling and persuasion by the IHBC and others the finished document is possibly as good as we can reasonably expect. I know it was hard to say goodbye to PPG15, our lovely, familiar comfort blanket of policy guidance. There we could always find our trusty, faithful paragraphs, always ready to bolster the appeal statement or inject rigour into the application submission statement, but possibly some of our members are too young to remember the huge hullabaloo when that policy guidance was published. It was not always plain sailing for PPG15. Whatever we feel personally about PPS5, it is here now and it is ours to use as effectively as possible. The change in language is still a little uncomfortable on the tongue I know, and the need to ensure that both the 1990 Act and the policy are referenced is not ideal, but we have to use the resources we have available and use the PPS to its best advantage. Personally, I find that the brevity of the PPS focusses the mind much more efficiently. The widespread use of one of our new words, ‘significance’, can be used to advantage. Our archaeological members will already be familiar with it but it was something of a trial for the rest of us. However, it is quite useful. My development control colleagues find it very clear now. It does concentrate the mind: what exactly is important? And in what way do we show that importance to development control or other colleagues or clients? For private sector members, the need for a heritage statement (or conservation assessment or whatever we are calling it) does provide the opportunity to show clients the importance of the historic environment in the wider planning process. However, just as I thought I had got through to my non-conservation colleagues and clients the concept of significance, another word was launched into the conservation lexicon – ‘localism’. The difference here is that it is not just our word. This is an idea, a concept which can mean a multitude of things to a wide range of people. I have written before about the fact that I believe conservation officers and most other conservation professionals have always been focussed on the local. We have called it different things of course: vernacular, sustainable, honest, distinctive, traditional and so on, but it all seems to boil down to the same thing. Sometimes it is easier to say what we want to avoid or what we don’t mean: universal corporate liveries, clone towns, creeping suburbanisation of the countryside or A bold new step: IHBC Chair Jo Evans addresses the 2010 AGM, where the institute adopted its Corporate Plan 2010–15. This view of Cambridge conveys something of what is meant by the word ‘localism’: a unique, even idiosyncratic, blend of periods, styles and moods.