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Power to the People! Community Involvement in HERs

Historic Environment Records Forum Summer Meeting 2012,
Birmingham and Midland Institute, Birmingham

(Post presentation questions and comments – in italicised type following each abstract – based on notes taken at the meeting).

Welcome from the Chair
Chris Webster, Somerset County Council HER

Another successful meeting on the theme of community involvement in HER work. The meeting started with a reminder of the usefulness of the Heritage Counts statistics and a report on the Local Engagement Workshops that had generated a lot of discussion on the HER Forum email list. There followed a presentation of work on the Under Represented Heritages project which struck a cord with many archaeologists with its critique of the concentration on elite aesthetic qualities when considering the built environment. Finally in the morning was a talk on the system of parish heritage wardens that Cornwall Council was establishing in partnership with local groups.

Following discussion and lunch, the afternoon session began with a presentation on the controversial extension of the use of SHINE data for Higher Level Stewardship, followed by a wide-ranging talk on the various ways that Kent HER involved a team of volunteers. Finally, the various methodologies of generating Local Lists in Essex were outlined. Both these last two provided many useful ideas that could be applied elsewhere.

Unfortunately it still proved impossible to get the talks on the HER21 projects that had previously proved elusive, reinforcing suspicions that the quality of these was so poor as to be embarrassing to present.


Heritage Counts
Jenny Frew, English Heritage

The historic environment is the Big Society in action, helping to build communities and giving people a real investment in the past, present and future of where they live and work. Every year 450,000 people get involved in their local historic environment through volunteering, around five million are members of heritage organisations, and one in six adults have donated to heritage causes.

Heritage Counts 2011, prepared by English Heritage on behalf of the heritage sector, showed how individuals, private businesses, local groups and national heritage organisations are working with the public sector to provide a voice for local communities and to promote the understanding and care of our heritage, as well as securing the future of historic buildings and places themselves.  Despite this success more help is needed to give communities greater influence and support them in looking after our heritage, an issue which is particularly important with the rise of Localism and reductions in historic environment staff at Local Authorities.

As the influence people have over the shape of their local area is set to increase through the Localism Act, particularly important will be the advice and guidance on planning to communities that heritage organisations can offer. 

Examples of projects the historic environment are involved in include, Peterborough Civic Society working with Peterborough City Council and parish councils to prepare a revised list of Buildings of Local Importance (BLI) for the district. Prepared by volunteers, the BLI will be used in the local development plan and will help safeguard important buildings.  In the North West, British Waterways, along with V (the National Young Volunteers Service), The Waterways Trust and Bank of America, are working with 900 16-25 year olds to teach them new skills whilst conserving and promoting the region’s historic waterways.

As in previous years, Heritage Counts also outlines key changes to the historic environment over the last year.  On the positive side, it was been a good year for heritage tourism, with a rise in visitor figures and strengthening membership figures.  However, there are ongoing significant concerns about the capacity of local historic environment services.  In the past year there has been an overall reduction of 11.9% of historic environment members of staff in England, with a reduction of 13.5% for conservation officers and 8.9% for archaeological officers is therefore of great concern.


Question: Does Heritage Counts investigate the resource implications for HERs and the HE sector in providing support for volunteers?

Answer: There is nothing concerning this in the published report. Consideration would, however, be given to issues like this on the policy side of the process. It was certainly true, however, that if the majority of the initiatives currently planned came to fruition, a great deal of support would be needed. The question of how information could be made more accessible to minimise the extra person time involved was a very valid one.

The questioner observed that this was certainly an issue that was of some importance to local government officers. Experience suggested that, in order to produce meaningful results, quite a lot of effort had to be invested at the outset. In the case of recent initiatives at his own authority the cost of these efforts probably added up to hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

Comment: Whilst the statistics show a high level of public interest In the historic environment, in practice active interest is proportionally quite small.

Comment: Experience seems to suggest that people tend to want to know how to use HER data to stop things. Usage seems to be more negative than positive. 

Question: Are there figures on diversity in the report?

Answer: There are some (p30).

  
Local Engagement Workshop Project: Report to HER Forum,
Sheena Payne-Lunn, Worcester City HER

(Sheena reported as a member of the project stakeholder group).

During April we ran two workshops on approaches to local engagement for HER Officers and Conservation Officers, one here in Birmingham, and the other in York. This short presentation is to report back on the outcomes and recommendations from the workshops.

The project was run by English Heritage, under the National Heritage Protection Programme, and received support from ALGAO and IHBC. The workshops follow-on from the HER21 programme: EH’s strategy to assist local authorities to develop their Historic Environment Records. HER21 has looked at projects which showed potential for community and voluntary involvement and also piloted remote access to HER data for conservation officers and the public. The aim of these workshops was to explore our role in local engagement and to share a range of approaches to both traditional communication and a look at how to make the most out of social media to interact with communities.

A Project Stakeholder Group, comprising six HEROs representing either ALGAO HER Committee or its sub-group for local engagement, guided the workshop planning. Time constraints prevented IHBC attendance; however, a representative was able to contribute to the planning event by email. English Heritage engaged Jude Habib from Sounddelivery www.sounddelivery.org.uk to facilitate the delivery of the workshops, particularly the social media elements.

Who took part? 65 delegates attended - meeting our target of about 30 people for each workshop - and were a mix of HEROs and Conservation Officers from 39 local authorities.

Feedback from the day was overwhelmingly positive; a real buzz at each event. The group activity in the afternoon gave everyone the opportunity to apply the different approaches to local engagement we explored together in the morning to a work-place scenario. These were based around working with communities to support the development of local lists, neighbourhood plans and a First World War legacies project.

 We asked:
- What are the possible consequences for your organisation and the local historic environment if you don’t involve the community in your project?
- What training and/or mentoring help do you need to develop skills in community participation?
- How can we overcome a lack of resources – time, budget, staff, and training? Can social media help us to do more with less?
The morning session provided a welcome first introduction to the top five social media tools and how to use them. Initially we thought the restrictions imposed by local authority social media policy would be a major obstacle. However, a different message emerged: work with your social media team and make a case for access. Several delegates shared that they had been able to gain approval to use social media within the workplace by investigating below the surface of their local authority policy. Experience shows that an appropriate business case can be made contained within a short email.

Live social media reporting on the day helped to increase the reach of the workshops and widen participation. The tools we used include:
- a Twitter hashtag (#histenviron) to enable discussion points, questions, comments and more to be shared and responded to by a wider audience than in the room, and to continue beyond the timeframe of the workshops. Tweets captured relevant websites, case studies and resources to enrich discussions and build a body of useful material.
- delegate interviews throughout the day using mobile phones and Audioboo http://audioboo.fm/
- photo sharing on the English Heritage flickr account
- Storify to curate and bring all the social media content together in one place http://storify.com/Heritage/social-media-training-for-local-engagement-heritag A link to the Storify report is on the Heritage Gateway along with downloads of the workshop materials, including a quick reference guide to relevant resources.

Recommendations emerging from the workshop days will be set out and dissemination in a forthcoming evaluation report. In outline these are:

1. More case studies! And raise awareness of what’s already out there.
2. Develop training (knowledge sharing) that is firmly rooted in real-life evidence from case examples, what works and does not work
3. Develop training (skills based) to equip the sector in the use of social media tools to inspire greater engagement by communities
4. Issue a social media guide for the sector
5. Collate and share evidence of positive impact of local engagement on historic environment services, and ways to turn this into effective advocacy.

English Heritage will be sharing the above recommendations with ALGAO and IHBC and will be looking at how they can be taken forward under the National Heritage Protection Programme (NHPP) and its supporting activities

Social media initiatives inspired by attendance at one of the workshop days:

http://archaeology.ning.com/
South Gloucestershire HER has set up community networking site for SCARP, a network of community archaeology groups across South Gloucester and Bristol. This enables groups to keep in touch with each other, find out what’s going on – projects and training events, plus add blog posts, photos and videos. The site is built using NING, a platform for creating social networking sites, similar to facebook but with greater flexibility to create pages with your own look and feel. Groups can directly contribute and will share responsibility for keeping the blogs current.

Worcester Facebook & Twitter
Worcester HER was invited by the City Council’s Communications team to become an ‘Admin’ on the council-wide Facebook page.  This has meant that an occasional post is all that is required for the HER to have a presence and that there is a shared responsibility for any enquiries.  The HER Officer is now including the hashtag #WorCityHER within tweets and on email signatures to begin to develop a Twitter presence.  The use of Twitter has been developed further with Worcestershire Young Archaeologists’ Club, who not only have their own account but have been using specific hashtags for projects such as
#WYACBuildingrecord where members have been encouraged to take photographs of historic buildings and upload them with their own comments and #WYACAllotment to record progress live from a training excavation project.

Raising profile of HERs:
Guardian Local Government Network Bristol HER http://www.guardian.co.uk/local-government-network/2012/jun/11/working-lives-archaeolog


 Day of Archaeology 2012
http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/the-usual-unusual-day/


Question:  How burdensome is the task of sustaining social media activity?

Answer:

- Depends on which tool you are using. Possible to jump on the back of the social media tools your local authority is already using, e.g. a facebook blog
- Re-tweets can get your message out to a much wider audience with no extra effort on your part
- Share responsibility between departments to lighten the load.
- Worcester are investigating setting up a department-wide Twitter account.

Question: How do you deal with difficult and challenging posts?

Answer:
- You can often find this is dealt with for you through self-policing by the community.
- Advantage of a council-wide platform is that you will have someone to call on who has responsibility to deal with these concerns.

Question: How do you manage the cross-over between your professional and personal life – does the council provide a smart phone for you?

Answer:

- No but finding that the value of the information makes it worthwhile
- Also the speed at which information is communicated. Bristol HER article published by the online Guardian Local Government Network was read by in excess of 10,000 people within minutes of going live.
- It is important that local authorities take on board that staff are having to use their own resources to achieve these results.


Under Represented Heritages Project
(Heidi Mirza and Paul Owens – Burns Owens Partnership)

Paul Owens and Professor Heidi Safia Mirza reported on some initial findings of the expert consultation on under-represented heritages carried out by BOP Consulting on behalf of English Heritage (EH). The aim of the consultation was to identify the significance of the historic environment for groups which are currently under-represented in the work of English Heritage. The consultation, an initiative under English Heritage’s National Heritage Protection Plan (NHPP), consisted of a series of 7 expert seminars and an online questionnaire. The project gathered the views of over 80 leading academic and independent researchers on the history and heritage of Asian, African and Caribbean communities, disabled people, ‘minority’ faith groups (Muslim, Jain, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish), LGBT (Lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people), and women.

The key message is there is a real danger that by focusing too much on the built environment and 'architectural/aesthetic' values EH could overlook large swathes of the history and heritage of the groups in question; not just sites of significance but also the stories of these groups within existing designated sites. Four types of sites are in danger of being overlooked:

1. Specific sites which may not have much aesthetic value but which have other types of significance, because significant events or community practices have taken place in these buildings, such as the first Yemini mosque in Birmingham which is now a derelict house, or the ‘Crocodile works’, a factory for Asian migrant workers in Birmingham.

2. Types of building or sites which might not traditionally be seen as significant but which feature strongly in the history of minority groups (‘the common place’). These are places of coming together such as markets for consumption, places of trade & manufacturing, publically accessible lavatories which are important for the disabled or domestic spaces for women.

3. Geographical areas/places which have significance as a whole: i.e. significance is not vested in a single site or building. For example urban areas, which includes parks, pubs and clubs for the ‘underground’ gay and lesbian community; the streets of Limehouse which mark the now lost first Chinatown; or areas of civil and political protest such as the Asian women’s trade union strike at Grunwick.

4. Stories of under-represented groups within existing designated sites. For example Bungreave Vestry Hall in Sheffield which is described by EH as a rates office in 1864, but became an important focal point for the post-war Caribbean community for the celebration of life events such as weddings.

A broad range of suggestions were made to ‘break the silence’ on underrepresented heritages, summarised as follows:

• Communication: Developing a more inclusive image and focused marketing especially about what EH does and the importance of preserving the historic environment. This includes using new technology and developing applicable search terms for accessing the heritage of  under-represented groups, opening up EH’s many rich resources and data bases to a wider expert audience

• Networks and partnerships: Building partnerships and engaging with established networks for an ongoing dialogue with the groups concerned. Developing an acknowledged and sustainable advisory structure for representation so ‘different voices’ can be heard and mainstreamed at a high level within EH.

• Research: Commissioning and undertaking research into under-represented heritages, funded by EH and a range of other bodies. Ensuring effective dissemination of this research through EH publications

• Education: Raising awareness and understanding of under-represented heritages especially among different generations .

• Enabling: Supporting particular groups to raise the profile of their heritage and to generate greater knowledge about their group, including sharing the process of how some groups have achieved better representation

Comment: HER officers seeking to satisfactorily safeguard the archaeological heritage also have concerns about English Heritage’s emphasis on aesthetics in preservation.

Comment: A range of tools, for example Local Lists and Historic Area Assessments, exist through which significance can be recognised. It is important to make more people aware of and involved in these processes. (PO noted that the working groups had tried to avoid ‘fixating’ on the process of designation alone).

Question: Did project members see long term difficulties resulting from the UK Government’s decision not to sign up to the UNESCO European Landscapes Convention and the allied ‘Landscapes of Memory’ initiative? These frameworks both seemed to hold promise in terms of recognising and protecting the intangible heritage.

Answer: HM replied that, a question that was quite commonly asked was “what is English heritage?” (In an attempt to define what was meant by both Englishness and heritage). There was a feeling of frustration that subjective decisions were being made which seemed to exclude some groups from the ‘national’ story. A good illustration of this was the decision to list the Abbey Road pedestrian crossing (on which the Beatles had stood for only a minute or so). The suggestion of a plaque for a house in which Bob Marley had stayed for several days, on the other hand, had been declined since he was not seen as part of the ‘English story’.

It was conjectured by a delegate that this might be a generational thing and that, whilst those making the decisions were presently of the age group that had been fans of the Beatles, the social significance of Bob Marley would be given more recognition as younger people took their place.   

Question: Isn’t it to be seen as a strength of HERs that they are not solely about designation? Their recording remit is capable of recognising significance that lies beyond the mainstream ‘establishment’ viewpoint.

Answer: HM observed that the question was, in social terms, a quite complicated one. Some of the groups involved were quite poor economically and a perception was sometimes encountered that they were too busy surviving in the present to give much consideration to their past (particularly if their community history in this country was regarded as both difficult and essentially transitory).


“Monument Watch”: Monitoring of Scheduled Monuments in Cornwall Bryn Tapper, HER Officer, Cornwall Council

Monument Watch is a programme that offers members of the Cornwall Archaeological Society (CAS) an active role in the management of archaeological sites. The idea is not new but builds on the work of local groups of volunteers who have been active in protecting and maintaining monuments in several areas of Cornwall for many years eg. Cornwall Ancient Sites Protection Network, Lizard Ancient Sites Network.

CAS operates a network of ‘Area Representatives’ (ARs) who act as principle contact and watchdogs for groups of parishes and who biannually meet to exchange information, news and archaeological reports about the sites in their area. The reports especially may prompt the society to action, often with the guidance and participation of the Cornwall Historic Environment Service (HES) and English Heritage, and which might involve practical and positive measures such as vegetation clearance at sites.

‘Monument Watch’ has been devised to formalise part of the work of the AR. Each AR ‘adopts’ a proportion of Cornwall’s 1345 Scheduled Monuments, those that fall in their group of parishes, with the aim to monitor and report on each scheduled monument at least once every two years. Often the AR will recruit a small number of volunteers and provide the lead for local monitoring.

During the past 3 years the AR group has grown to include a wider range of people, of various ages, experience and expertise. Over the past year a short guide to the AR role has been produced and over the past 6 months a standardised format for reporting on scheduled monuments has been devised which meets the needs of the EH Field Monument Warden and the Cornwall & Scilly Historic Environment Record.  To bolster the programme and develop volunteer’s familiarity with the necessary information, resources and skills to undertake successful monitoring HER training has been provided and a field training day has taken place. Further events are planned.

This form of community engagement is proving to be an invaluable tool for the HER in particular and is already producing dividends; the condition and survival of many sites is being reported and updated while the real and potential threats and vulnerabilities affecting them identified. There are also unexpected and encouraging developments – the programme acting as a template for other local interest groups and individuals to report on undesignated sites or new sites, and become involved in their management.


Question: How did you decide which sites were to be monitored?

Answer: This was left open to the groups. The broad intention was that the initiative would ‘mop up’ those sites which where not already under close scrutiny of the English Heritage Field Monument Advisor and on the current Scheduled Monument @ Risk register. A side benefit has become apparent in that reports on undesignated sites are also being received. The eventual aim is to encourage the monitoring of all sites.

Question: How do you gain access to privately owned sites? Are landowners given reports?

Answer: Where required, permission is always sought from the landowner before a site is visited. It is explained to landowners, through the volunteers, that the ‘Monument Watch’ project is being undertaken by the Cornwall Archaeological Society in partnership with English Heritage and the local Council Historic Environment Service. Volunteers are expressly reminded that they are able in to visit and monitor sites in a ‘look and record’ capacity only and that discussions concerning site management fall solely within the remit of the English Heritage Field Monument Advisor.

Question: How much staff time does the project take up?

Answer: On the basis of the six months that the project has so far been in progress this is slightly difficult to assess. Two people have so far invested about a week’s work each. However, attempts to build the work into the time recording system only started about a month ago. If time demands are revealed to be disproportionate things might have to be scaled back. The plan is to train up area representatives to take the lead locally and thus reduce the staff time requirement to the point that the project will essentially be self-sustaining. At this stage, though, there is still a need to keep up the impetus.

Question: Mention was made of the participation of a local pagan group. How is this progressing?

Answer: The group, CASPN, comprises a broad range of people including pagan members, and takes a keen interest in the sites and is very pro-active and observant.

Question: Are the proformas used returned in paper or digital form? How is the data being entered?

Answer: The local groups are returning information in both formats. Data entry currently involves a validation process whereby the HER Officer assesses the material received before judging whether it is suitable for using in the update of any particular monument’s record.  The proforma risk assessment
criteria and values, covering for example condition, survival and vulnerability characteristics of a site, have been adapted from various guidance, each relevant to the type of heritage asset being monitored – site, landscape, building etc. For scheduled monuments this was informed by English Heritage’s  Scheduled Monuments at Risk! A Pilot Study in the East Midlands, Case Study Handbook (Fearn K and Humble J ), 2003.  


The SHINE project: progress to date and next steps
Sarah Poppy (Suffolk County Council) and Ruth Garner (Natural England)

The SHINE project was initiated in 2008 to create a verified and nationally consistent dataset of undesignated historic environment features across England that would benefit from for management under Environmental Stewardship (ES).  Data about suitable sites is created by local authority Historic Environment Records (HERs) and fed into the national SHINE dataset, which is made available to land owners and within Natural England’s land management system.

Since 2010-11, some £236,000 of DEFRA-funding has enabled over 35 local authority HERs to contribute to the project, resulting in a dataset of over 42,000 historic environment features, 97% of which have been verified by their local HER.  A targeted spatial approach has been adopted by the scheme, focussing the enhancement efforts of HERs towards those holdings likely to enter into ES agreements in forthcoming years.  The 2012-13 scheme, the last year of DEFRA-funding, will prioritise those HERs that have limited to engagement and input to date, as well as assisting all HERs in obtaining coverage of high and medium significance features within ES target areas in their areas.

In parallel Natural England has been undertaking the SHINE-HLS project, a Defra-funded research project to consider how SHINE can be developed further and used to assist ALGAO and English Heritage in undertaking Higher Level Stewardship responses.  The SHINE project partners, together with exeGesIS, have been developing an online HER consultation portal, aimed at reducing some of the administrative burden and double handing by HERs, as well as an efficient and centralised online tracking system for HLS consultations.  The portal uses SHINE and designations datasets, to which local and national historic environment advisors can add specific and targeted management advice, which once completed for a holding, can be output in map and tabular format.

At the time of speaking, the SHINE HLS portal and workflow is undergoing beta-testing by three HERs and regional Natural England and English Heritage advisors.  The project team are working on guidance, together with scoping enhancements arising from the testing process, and it is anticipated that the portal will go live for use in the late summer. 

Further information about SHINE 2013 and SHINE HLS is available from http://www.myshinedata.org.uk/ or the SHINE coordinator.

Question: SHINE is quite strict as to the minimum size of the features that can be depicted which makes it difficult to polygonise features like wayside crosses. How should this be done?

Answer: Very small features should be mapped using the smallest polygon permissible by the system (even if larger than the feature itself). The minimum permitted size exists to ensure that the site is visible on the 1:10000 maps produced by Natural England.

Question: What level of significance should be attached to ridge and furrow earthworks which are not associated with settlement sites?

Answer: This will vary according to how common ridge and furrow is within your area. In predominantly arable areas, for example, any surviving ridge and furrow is likely to be rare, and the remains would have a higher significance than in areas with largely complete ridge and furrow systems. 

Question: What happens in cases where SHINE consultations straddle two adjoining authorities? Are both HERs alerted?

Answer: Yes.

Question: A lot of time tends to be spent preparing polygons for SHINE, which is, effectively, a parallel dataset to the HER itself. Wouldn’t it be better to use this time to improve the HER data itself and then use this enhanced understanding to support SHINE?

Answer: The intention behind this is to create a ‘level playing field’ regarding GIS data. At the outset many HERs didn’t have a polygonised dataset and it was thus necessary to create a common standard.   Also the emphasis of the SHINE polygon is different from that of an HER monument record, as it represents an area that would benefit from management, rather than the extent of a HE feature.

 
Community Involvement with the Kent HER
Ben Croxford, Kent County Council

Community involvement has long been a focus for the Heritage Conservation Group at Kent County Council. In relation to the Kent Historic Environment Record this has seen the development of the online version of the HER enabling free public access and wide promotion of the existence of this resource. More recently there has been a drive to actively encourage further community involvement with the HER in the form of directly contributing to the system. Questions can be asked though as to who ‘the community’ actually is, what ‘involvement’ should be and what the best use of the two can deliver.

Concerning community, Kent is probably typical with a wide variety of local groups, plus a county society, a university with archaeology students and a generally interested population. Over the last three years these groups have been targeted to generate volunteers, who are then trained and utilised to deliver a range of projects that directly aim to enhance the HER. Questions must be asked regarding how representative of the wider community these groups are. Therefore, when we talk about community involvement, do we always mean the same thing and would other non-archaeological services or government bodies recognise our community as the same community that they engage with?

Regardless of the origin or representative nature of the volunteers, they have become heavily involved in enhancing the Kent HER in recent years. This has typically taken the form of data cleaning but has more recently come to include mass data import processes and GIS work to produce new resources for both the Heritage Conservation service and the wider community. Volunteer labour has enabled a large-scale review of designation data, addition of new datasets and is currently being used to georectify tithe maps to create a ‘new’ map of the county. The work being undertaken is then of direct value to the service, representing a considerable labour resource that would not otherwise be available. The question remains though whether this truly constitutes community involvement or whether it is exploitation of willing individuals within ‘the community’ in order to meet what could be seen as core objectives of the service.

Given staffing levels, stated objectives of the service and realities of what can and cannot be achieved, it is felt that the current system in place at the Kent HER represents the best use of resources and is providing a genuine form of community involvement. The HER is being significantly enhanced and the work is being carried out by members of the public from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Question: How are the resulting amendments being processed by the EH Designations team and the NMR?

Answer (supplied by Martin Newman of EH): Within EH the relevant element of the (now disbanded) NMR has now become part of the Designations team. The two are thus one and the same. They are quite happy to process the data received from Kent and to make the necessary amendments. However, should any other HERs contemplate gong along the same path it would be advisable to contact EH Designations first in order to structure the resulting workload.

Question: Was ArcGIS used to geo-rectify the tithe maps? 

Answer: Yes, the HER holds several ArcGIS licences and is able to do this work.

Question: Who scanned the tithe maps?

Answer: These were scanned by the county record office.

Question: Do you have any plans for the apportionments?

Answer: These are being typed up by the Kent Archaeological Society but they are not yet on the HER. It is, however, intended that some link with this data can be created.

The questioner observed that the Worcestershire HER might provide a useful model for this aspect of the work. A delegate from Hertfordshire said that their tithe maps had been scanned by the National Coal Board.


The Local Listing Initiative in Essex
Alison Bennett, Essex County Council

This English Heritage funded project explored how a HER could work with colleagues across a two-tier government structure to compile, develop and manage local lists. It also worked with members of local societies and tested methods of local engagement for compiling local lists. The project was undertaken in partnership with Tendring District Council, Chelmsford Borough Council and Colchester Borough Council, who were each at different stages of local list development.

The first stage of the project assessed the results of a questionnaire which was sent to all Conservation Officers and some planners in Essex (including all District Councils and Unitary Authorities). The results of the questionnaire highlighted a huge variety in local lists, in terms of how they were completed, stored and managed. It also highlighted that most local lists were buildings focussed, but that there was a general appreciation of the benefits of encompassing a range of heritage assets on a local list.

Stage 2 of the project was a pilot study with Tendring District Council, which explored how a HER could help instigate and compile a local list. The results showed that HERs are a hugely important resource at the early stages of local list compilation. Issues surrounding local list criteria were fully explored and assessed. It also explored methods of local engagement, which were used to inform a Toolkit on local list compilation.

Stage 3 of the project explored methods for migrating an existing set of local list information from Chelmsford Borough Council onto a HER database, using HBSMR. The result of this stage was a procedure produced by exeGesIS which allowed the data to be both added to the database and linked to the GIS mapping by the HER. Some editing of the data was necessary.

Stage 4 with Colchester Borough Council explored how a local planning authority could adopt a local list into its planning frameworks, in particular when there are a number of different local lists within one Local Authority. It also considered methods for local engagement, and assessed how the HER could be utilised by local groups.

The project showed that the HER is valuable source for all stages of local list development. It identified that poor awareness of the HER by colleagues in Local Authorities and the public is a major issue which prevents it being used successfully. The project also showed that with many local groups compiling their own local lists to their own individual formats, there are issues for HERs who may wish to incorporate them into their databases.

A toolkit accompanies this report, which uses the results of this report to provide best practice guidance to anyone wishing to develop a local list.

Question: Were spreadsheets of local lists created for district authorities?

Answer: Different approaches were used. Chelmsford had their information in a spreadsheet format and online. Colchester approached the matter of getting the list adopted by making it accessible online.

Question: Is the report itself online?

Answer: It will be available online soon.

Question: Was the HER to be the repository of the lists?

Answer: The local groups involved wanted to retain ownership of the lists and tended to see the HER as a source rather than a ‘home’.

Question: Won’t this give rise to issues regarding maintenance and updating?

Answer: Yes, quite certainly.

The questioner commented that he foresaw problems with independently maintained lists since a unifying rigor would be needed to underpin the ratification process. Another delegate noted that the recent EH guidance document clearly viewed HERs as the appropriate repository for Local Lists.

An EH delegate mentioned that the HER21 project reports would soon be available through the HELM website. A formal ratification procedure should be integrated within the planning process.