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Southport consultation

The final report can be viewed here, but an extensive consultation process was followed to produce this.


A series of workshops ran in January at the Museum of London in Docklands.

  • Workshop 1: How to achieve better quality in delivery
  • Workshop 2: How to achieve better opportunities for public participation and involvement in decision making, and improved quality of publication and dissemination
  • Workshop 3: How to achieve proper compilation and transfer of archive material and improved access to archives
  • Workshop 4: How to achieve a better research focus in delivery, and how to address fragmentation in the sector

The group then ran an online video consultation from 25 February 20 18 March 2011, to gather opinion on the findings of the workshops workshops. The consultation consisted of a written report summarising the findings of the Southport Group workshop series, as well as video recordings of each session.

Responses to the consultation informed the development of the report, intended to outline recommendations for a framework of guidance and products that would help realise the aspirations of PPS5. The draft report can be downloaded below and was launched fully and discussed at the IfA Conference in April. The final report will has now been published.

Draft report summary

The publication of Planning Policy Statement 5 by the Department of Communities and Local Government (2010), alongside a strong and insightful Government vision statement on the historic environment (DCMS 2010) offers an extraordinary and rare opportunity – of the sort that comes along only once or twice in a professional lifetime.

The draft report was prepared as a response to that opportunity, by a small working party of historic environment professionals – the Southport Group – that was formed following a debate at the Institute for Archaeologists’ conference in Southport in April 2010. It takes account of contributions made in a series of open workshops and an online consultation. It is being circulated now for comment and, with the benefit of further public consultation and open debate at forthcoming professional conferences, a final report was published in July 2011.

The intended audience for the final report is all those with the power to shape England’s historic environment. Its purpose is to draw on the accumulated expertise and experience of historic environment professionals, and those who fund planning-led investigation and understanding of the historic environment, so that the opportunity may best be realised.

Ultimately, the underlying principles of PPS5 and the Government Statement paint a vision of the future where planning-led investigation of the historic environment delivers far greater rewards and far more immediately recognisable benefits for society as a whole than ever before. Even if or when PPS5 is absorbed into the National Heritage Planning Framework, as anticipated will take place later this year, those principles are set to endure.

The draft report sets out the key findings during consultation to date and the emerging vision for public involvement and participation, research, the use of archived and published results, how historic environment sector professionals operate and what the property and development sector should gain. Based on the vision, it makes a series of recommendations which, the Group believes, will provide the sector with the tools it needs to implement the principles of PPS5.

The report calls for more effective collaboration and partnership working among heritage sector bodies to rationalise and strengthen activities and create a powerful, unified voice that encourages public, government and media engagement and support. It outlines a vision for the sector where management of the historic environment is a partnership between local authorities and community groups and where decisions proactively, confidently and genuinely take account of public values and concerns.

A post-Southport world would see a sector that consistently adds value to development by contributing to the sustainable development agenda, to design, brand, place-shaping, securing consents, risk management, PR, CSR, marketing and sales/rental values. The vision is that commercial investigation and explanation of the historic environment should be commissioned and conducted in a way that makes public participation the norm not the exception. Meanwhile commercial and voluntary practitioners should increasingly recognise and comply with professional standards so that all are encouraged to acquire new skills and accreditation.

Development-led research into the historic environment should be a collaborative venture involving commercially-funded, local authority, higher education and the voluntary sector. It should be focused on interpretation, understanding and significance, not record. In all cases decisions should be founded on sound knowledge derived from HERs mediated by expert professionals, and from proportionate and appropriate professional research, commissioned by the applicant, into the interests of a place and its significance.

This draft report contains 27 recommendations for a toolkit of possible products for achieving the Southport vision. All require sector endorsement if they are to take effect and bring about long-term change. Once agreement has been reached and the organisations assigned with crucial actions have pledged their support, then full product descriptions will be drafted into the final report and it will be the responsibility of all in the sector to adopt the recommendations and products into their working methods.

PPS5 demands a strong commitment to change. It will undoubtedly be challenging at both personal and institutional levels. The PPS5 principles require the historic environment sector to work in new ways: ways which are far more rewarding for society as a whole and far more satisfying for those who commission it and those who carry it out. This would be a great prize for any profession and it is within our grasp. The authors of this report hope that the sector, by responding to this draft, will seize the opportunity to shape the future.

The full draft report can be downloaded here.

Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
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Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AB

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