16 Y E A R B O O K 2 0 1 9 CHAIR’S REVIEW JAMES CAIRD, IHBC CHAIR MY TERM of office as IHBC chair ends in July. When I took the job on, Mike Brown, my predecessor remarked how quickly three years passes when you’re enjoying yourself; and thus it has proved. Given this will be my last review, a look back at some of the issues over this period seems in order. Two years ago I commented that the uncertainties connected with the UK’s withdrawal from the EU were likely to mean that parliamentary time for heritage legislation was unlikely for the foreseeable future. The events that have passed since have not given rise to any greater confidence, so our focus must continue to be on building a better future for the profession and the historic environment within the existing parameters. The IHBC exists to promote, facilitate and accredit high professional standards in heritage management, design and implementation, and to promote the role of heritage in regeneration, place-making and sustainability. The regulation of heritage standards is an important component of what we do. However, we should not see this work merely as a process of enforcement against disrespectful, uninformed or neglectful proposals as many of our members are in positions to influence the shape of proposals long before they fall within the regulatory sphere. The ‘hearts and minds’ aspect of this is the promotion of the idea that development proposals that properly respect heritage values often have much higher economic, social and wider environmental outcomes as well, and an understanding of this tends to give rise to less contentious proposals that demand lower levels of statutory intervention. 2018 saw renewed government determination (in England) to see better design in the built environment. The implied logic of this is that there are enough reasons for objecting to new developments without adding poor design to the list. It is a topic that governments have attempted to resolve in the past without achieving a sustainable mechanism for doing so. This is not to deny the excellent good practice work of CABE and its predecessor, the Royal Fine Art Commission. Their problem that still faces us today is: how do we convert the enormous amounts of heritage and place-making good practice documentation into high quality results on the ground? The stumbling block is undoubtedly inertia. The development and heritage sectors have large quantities of in-built practice, and existing practices are reinforced by setting the scene for trainees. It is inevitable that changing current practice to something better will cost money because it involves people taking the time to think about what they do and training themselves to do it better. So, it is also a necessity to convince property owners and developers that proposals for change should be looked at in terms of their value, and not just their cost. We are used to this in terms of a proposal’s internal value-for-money, but not the value of wider impacts and how they might also return benefits. It took a good many years after 1967 for the general public to see that planning constraints in conservation areas, which they might find inconvenient, added value to the area as a whole and to their own property. This argument now needs to be applied to heritage high streets. The financial, fiscal and trading pressures on high street businesses are not going to improve if fragmentation of retail uses and physical decline are added to the list. Heritage high streets are at an advantage because of the additional statutory controls that apply to heritage property. However, retailing is unlikely to be a regenerative force on its own. The emphasis must now be on the experience economy, which leads directly to one of our core activities – place-making. The IHBC has a wealth of practice guidance and other material on its website. This is available to members, their clients, the public and all who may need to be informed in heritage matters. But the institute does need to increase its influence through professional practice and the key to this is a larger and better accredited membership. As a multi-disciplinary institute, the IHBC has much to offer the heritage professional and the quality of our accreditation is high, so I would urge anyone who has the skills and experience to apply for full membership. Try one of our MATE sessions if the process appears daunting. To others, associate or affiliate members make up half our membership and are tested routes to improved professional skills. The IHBC is currently making adjustments to its governance to improve the way it works and to give a wider range of its membership opportunities to participate. Offers to help us run the institute are always welcome, and the job would be impossible without the excellent contributions of our volunteers, our director and staff for whom my thanks are particularly due. I could not have performed the role of chair without them: doing which has been a great honour. Thank you. James Caird, chair@ihbc.org.uk