Conserving our Landscape Heritage
When the Gardens Trust was formed in July 2015 following a merger of the Garden History Society and the Association of Gardens Trusts (representing the County Gardens Trusts of England and Wales), it was confirmed by Government to be the new statutory consultee in relation to planning applications which affect the designed historic landscape, a role which, since 1995, had been performed by the Garden History Society.
In its capacity as statutory consultee, the Gardens Trust, plays a key conservation role and supports the County Gardens Trusts in the protection and conservation of designed landscapes. Local planning authorities must consult the Gardens Trust in relation to all planning applications that may affect historic designed landscapes in England and Wales that are on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest, held by Historic England. These consultations are dealt with by the Gardens Trust’s conservation team, working closely with volunteers in the County Gardens Trusts.
The Gardens Trust sends to the county gardens trusts (CGTs) on a weekly basis a list of all the conservation consultations logged by the Gardens Trust consisting mainly of planning applications. Bucks GT works with The Gardens Trust, Historic England, other amenity bodies, local planning authorities throughout Buckinghamshire, owners and managers of sites and the public.
The consultation requirement is triggered by any development proposal which affects the registered site: this may be at some distance, and have no physical connection with the registered site. Making appropriate consultations not only fulfils the statutory requirements (and thereby reduces the risk of any permission being challenged) but allows the application to be considered by experts in the field. Bucks GT has three Conservation and Planning Officers who respond to these consultations but we are always looking for more to ensure coverage of the county and training is available.
The Trust is available to help developers, owners and planners with advice, based on the detailed knowledge built up on the historic designed landscapes of Buckinghamshire over many years. Where possible we encourage the development of Conservation Management Plans for each site to ensure continuity of informed practice.
Historic parks and gardens are ‘heritage assets’ for planning purposes. The Gardens Trust is determined to raise awareness of historic designed landscapes and to ensure that the protection afforded to them by the National Planning Policy Framework as heritage assets is implemented and is effective and sustainable. The role of local planning authorities and the county GT’s is central to this process.