Monday, 20 April 2015

Your Place Matters: Community Planning for the Future of Rural Buildings and their Setting

What makes your parish special to you and your community?
What do you think your local area would have looked like 20 years, 50 years and 100 years ago? What would you like it to look like in 50 years' time?

These were some of the questions asked when Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service welcomed a variety of community advocates, heritage and non-heritage professionals to the Your Place Matters: Community Consultation Workshop on 24th March.

The workshop invited delegates to explore the potential form, context and use of a toolkit being developed by Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, in collaboration with Historic England. The toolkit aims to strengthen the status of rural buildings and landscapes in local decision making (including neighbourhood plans) by empowering communities to assess the historic character and significance of their parish. 

© Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service


The toolkit will also support communities to confidently measure proposed changes and will enable them to guide new development so that it responds to broad patterns of landscape and settlement. This approach is not intended to fossilise places or encourage imitation but encourage new development which seamlessly integrates with local character.

The workshop incorporated three excellent presentations from Steve Bloomfield (Worcestershire Wildlife Trust), Jeremy Lake (Historic England) and Pete Boland (Historic England) on 'Cross-cutting conservation themes in development', 'Understanding historic character and significance and 'Conservation of rural buildings in Neighbourhood Plans'.


© Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service

People experience and appreciate heritage as places – streets, neighbourhoods and landscapes – and not just as individual buildings, monuments or sites. Places are recognised by the unique combination of characteristic features that they encompass. It is these features - the landscapes, geology, buildings, flora, fauna, farming, industry, culture, traditions, food, drink, dialect - which give them their uniqueness or local distinctiveness.

Heritage should not be viewed in isolation but as a symbiotic element of the wider environment. The environment is not purely 'natural' - it has been formed through generations of human occupation, activity, and modification. This has resulted in a diverse array of features, landscapes, and characteristics which facilitate the presence of our valued ecological assets, biodiversity and habitats.

Lower Broadheath © English Heritage NMR27763_004

Historic buildings, dating from the medieval period to the 20th century are a significant feature of Worcestershire's rural landscapes. They have social, cultural and economic importance and reflect the nature and history of the communities who created them and add distinctiveness, meaning and quality to the places in which we live (English Heritage, 2008). Rural buildings are incredibly diverse in their function, scale, design and use of materials.

© Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service

© Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service

Understanding the overall character of an area enables a better integrated approach to planning and management and is central to securing good quality, well designed and sustainable places that recognise and respond to all elements of the environment.

If you would like to explore your neighbourhood or would like further information about the Your Place Matters project please contact the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service on 01905 765560 or at archaeology@worcestershire.gov.uk. Why not book an appointment to come and see us at Explore the Past, Level 2, The Hive, Sawmill Walk, The Butts, Worcester, WR1 3PD. See http://www. worcestershire.gov.uk/waas for general enquiries.

As well as providing you with information, HERs can act as a depositary for your research. If you have any research or information about your local area, please consider sharing it with the HER - sharing your work will help to cultivate and enrich the resource for the benefit of all.

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