HEF Meetings

HEF meets monthly. Read here the highlights of the last meetings of the main HEF assembly.

January 2021

The meeting opened with DCMS sharing some key dates in 2021 (e.g. budget, review of the Covid restrictions). They ensured that part of their work is around making sure that immediate support for the sector is in place through various measures (e.g. Culture Recovery Fund, furlough scheme). HEF members shared their concerns for the sector.

NLHF and Historic England updated HEF on the Culture Recovery Fund and other funding strands available for the sector (e.g. Green Recovery Challenge Fund, NLHF funds).

Historic Houses updated the group on the Heritage Working Group meeting with Nigel Huddleston MP held on 14 January 2021, which focused on the impacts of lockdown measures, with the recognition that the heritage sector responded responsibly to the situation. The organisations around the table asked for advanced notice on reopening decisions, in order to plan for financial implications.

The Covid Task Group has worked with Historic England at the draft of a Heritage Recovery Plan. HEF members contributed to refine the draft.

Historic England shared the main news on planning: forthcoming guidance to be published by Historic England, and consultations open.

The HEF team shared the Brexit-related set of FAQs to help minimise the impact of EU transition on the sector.

The COP26 Task Group reported on their activities: The group is mapping the activities happening around the topic of green recovery / sustainability / climate change, to avoid duplication and identify opportunities for potential synergies.

The meeting concluded with the elections of the HEF Steering Group members.

Under AOB, HEF discussed a potential role for HEF in nominating people for honours, and in encouraging the organisations to nominate people for heritage-related services.

December 2020

The meeting opened with the approval of the Strategic Framework for Collaborative Action, 2020-25, and a short update on the work to contribute to the forthcoming planning reform, which remains among HEF priorities.

The main priorities for DCMS in the beginning of 2021 continue to be: Covid restrictions and sector support; EU transition and sector readiness.

Historic England recapped the recommendations of the recently published Tailored Review. Directly related to HEF, the Review recommended to improve the public accessibility of Heritage Counts.

The following item on the agenda focused on the Heritage Council meeting devoted to Brexit, held on 16 December (the minutes of the meeting can be found here).

The HEF Covid Task Group continues its work on the impact of Covid. The group shared concerns to be fed to DCMS, and analysed emerging opportunities for the sector, such as the Kickstarter Scheme. The task group is helping DCMS to track the health of the heritage sector through a set of regular indicators.

After working on a sector’s narrative for post-Covid recovery, HEF agreed to focus the work of the second task group on sustainability. The topic acknowledges the renewed political focus on green agenda (both nationally and internationally) and the event of COP26 provides an opportunity to strengthen the position of the sector to support rather than hinder green recovery and environmental progress.

At the end of the meeting IHBC announced the set up of the new ‘APPG Conservation Places and People’.

October 2020

October’s HEF meeting opened with the introduction of Adrian Olivier, new Chair of the Historic Environment Forum.

DCMS and HEF members who participated in the Heritage Council (15th October 2020) updated the assembly on the discussions which took place in the Council meeting. On the forthcoming planning reform, they reported that the Housing Minister summarised the main characteristics of the proposed reform and ensured that the heritage sector will be involved in future discussions. The organisations participating in the meeting stressed with the Minister the importance of: skills, capacity and resourcing of local planning authorities; the protection of archaeological assets; the role of heritage in place-shaping; involvement of local communities; the role of heritage in economy. The details of the reforms still have to be worked out, and this will be the focus of future policy work. The second topic at the Heritage Council was energy efficiency in historic buildings (the theme covered also by Heritage Counts 2019 ‘There’s No Place Like Old Homes’). Heritage organisations proposed a VAT cut on works to retrofit historic buildings, improve their energy efficiency and contribute to reach the ambitious net zero carbon target.

The DCMS announced their priorities for the next months: understanding the impact of a second wave of Covid-19; EU transition; Spending Review and future fiscal events. Another strand of work is related to contested heritage.

The following item on the agenda aimed to discuss the next steps of sector’s reception and response to the Planning White Paper. HEF members commented on their approach to the consultation and identified key points for future discussions in the Forum.

HEF then endorsed the Historic Environment Protection Reform Group as a non-HEF funded group reporting to HEF, and supported in principle the extension of its remit to include planning. The Terms of Reference of the group will be shared with HEF in the January meeting.

Historic England shared the schedule for publishing the series ‘Heritage Counts’ and announced that the 2020 Research piece will build on the work carried out in 2019 examining energy efficiency and emission reductions in the built historic environment.

Task Group 1 will continue working on Covid-related issues, but will also tackle other urgent upcoming topics, such as Brexit.

Task Group 2 built a positive narrative for the sector and translated in a social media campaign (#HeritageNow) around the contribution of the historic environment to society and economy, to take place on 21st October. The future focus of the Task Group is under discussion.

Finally, Natural England shared the news on the recent publication of their strategy  ‘Building Partnership for Nature’s Recovery’.

September 2020

A DCMS officer presented the latest Covid-related regulations introduced by the Government: the ‘Rule of Six’ and the new NHS ‘Test & Trace’ app. Other news from DCMS included: the guarantee that the Ministers are working to ensure a positive Spending Review for the heritage sector; the planning reform proposed by MHCLG.

Historic England updated HEF on their forthcoming Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and on the funding granted by the Culture Recovery Fund. HEF agreed on the need for stronger collaboration to tackle diversity and inclusion in the heritage sector, which will also be one of the cross-cutting principles of HEF Strategic Framework.

The central part of the meeting was dedicated to the Planning White Paper under consultation by MHCLG. Historic England sought the sector’s input to ensure a positive outcome for the historic environment.

The last part of the meeting focussed on HEF activities: the development of the Strategic Framework for Collaborative Action; the work of the Task Groups; the need to ensure funding for the continuation of HEF activities. Task Group 2 announced the imminent dissemination of a shared narrative on the value of the historic environment.

Historic England announced they published a web-based position statement relating to retrofitting energy-saving measures in historic buildings and a new ‘Responses to Climate Change’ page, which sets out their current thinking on adaptation and mitigation.

The Heritage Alliance announced the launch of the programme ‘Rebuilding Heritage’, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which offers practical support in response to Covid crisis. The Alliance is also running the programme ‘Heritage Digital’, which offers free training in the digital sphere. Finally, the Alliance announced the launch of the ‘Heritage, Wellbeing and Health Report’.

July 2020

DCMS introduced the most important news from the Government: Covid-related measures (guidance around the safe reopening of heritage places, the ‘Enjoy Summer Safely’ campaign, VAT reduction from 20% to 15%, Eat Out to Help Out Scheme); Government priorities (‘Build Build Build’ agenda, jobs and skills, ‘levelling up’ agenda); post-Covid funding for heritage (£1.57bn package to culture and heritage); forthcoming Spending Review.

Historic England updated HEF on their recently published guidance Energy Efficiency and Traditional Homes (HE Advice Note 14), Conserving Georgian and Victorian terraced housing, Enabling Development and Heritage Assets (Historic Environment Good Practice Advice in Planning 4), Stained Glass Windows: Managing Environmental Deterioration. The following update was focussed on recent changes to Permitted Development Rights.

The last part of the meeting was related to HEF governance, with a broad approval of the Terms of Reference, an agreement on the roadmap to build the Strategic Framework and an update on the recruitment of a new Chair for the Forum.

June 2020

DCMS presented the latest heritage-related Government news: the last phase of reopening after lockdown, the preparation to the imminent (Autumn 2020) Spending Review, the forthcoming publication of the report on the Taylor Review Pilot (on Listed Places of Worship).

Historic England updated the group on their latest work streams: contribution to the production of the guidance on safe reopening; evidence gathering on the impact of Covid on the sector; set up of an emergency grants programme in coordination with NLHF and ACE; discussions with MHCLG around temporary planning reforms and Towns Fund; High Street HAZ programme; online guidance and training support; online public engagement initiatives; changing planning regulations (Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020; Business and Planning Act 2020); open consultations; statement on contested heritage – other organisations shared their position on this subject.

The meeting continued with an update on the programme Heritage 2020, due to finish at the end of September 2020. The successful programme engaged with over a hundred people from 42 organisations and delivered a shift in how the sector collaborates.

Discussions then focused on ‘Heritage Counts’. The group agreed: to include a section on the impact of Covid; the broad timescale of the publication of the series.

The last items on the agenda focussed on the Terms of Reference; the need to develop a Strategic Framework; an update on the work being undertaken by the two Task Groups. Task Group 2 sought agreement on its scope: the production of a positive narrative for sector’s recovery after the pandemic.

Lastly, the Heritage Alliance announced the launch of the new digital programme ‘Heritage Digital’ to improve digital training for heritage organisations.

May 2020

The new ‘HEF team’ was introduced to HEF assembly.

DCMS updated the Forum on the forthcoming reopening after lockdown. HEF members had the chance to ask questions and feed their thoughts to DCMS.

Task Group 1 updated the Forum on its work undertaken to facilitate the Heritage Working Group (part of the DCMS Task Force, within the Cultural Renewal Task Force appointed by the Secretary of State).

Historic England updated the Forum on the Covid-related planning reforms already introduced by the Government and reported that MHCLG welcomed proactive engagement from the heritage sector. It is proposed that the Heritage Protection Reform Group (HEPRG) tackles these topics, even though the relationship between HEPRG and HEF needs to be better clarified after the transition to the new model is complete.

The Forum then agreed the timescale for the production of the Terms of Reference and the development of the Strategic Framework. A new Task Group (Task Group 0) open to all HEF members to join will deal with the topics.

HEF focussed the attention on the scope of the two pilot Task Groups funded until April 2021. Task Group 1 will focus on short-term Covid response (i.e. facilitating Heritage Working Group work, Heritage Council discussion), Task Group 2 will deal with longer-term post-Covid recovery for the sector. The scoping of the second Task Group is to be agreed.

April 2020

The meeting opened with the announcement that Nigel Huddleston MP, Minister for Heritage, will host a weekly conference call to bring together the organisations that are represented on the Heritage Council (added to with a selection of other representatives).

The Heritage 2020 ‘Helping Things to Happen’ group produced a document with ‘key asks’ for Government and a key point is that recovery cannot be at the expense of heritage and nature, such as through too much relaxation on planning.

Historic England reported they engaged with MHCLG to ensure planning functions are maintained in the pandemic. On the same topic, CIfA and ALGAO issued a joint statement about archaeology and the planning system.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund ensured they are working with other key players in the sector to provide funding for heritage organisations.

Historic England asked the collaboration of the sector to collect consistent evidence on the impact of Covid to support future response. In the light of the transition to a new structure for HEF, with two pilot Task Groups working on agreed priorities, HEF decided that one Task Group will be related to Covid-19 emergency response.