To consider the report of the Leader of the Council seeking adoption of a Local List as a proactive means of giving visibility to locally important heritage and community assets, and to support the Council’s Planning Officers in making informed decisions in relation to development proposals.
Report to follow.
9.1 The Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Environment introduced the report and explained that it sought to adopt a Local List of heritage assets for Gloucester. He noted that this would be a proactive means of giving visibility to important heritage assets in the city and would be updated on an annual basis. The Leader of the Council confirmed that information about what was particularly significant about each asset would be included on the Local List, which was set out in Appendix 2
9.2 The Leader of the Council confirmed that the consultation response report was provided in Appendix 3 and the FAQs presented to owners were set out in Appendix 4.
9.3 The Chair asked for further information regarding next steps and asked whether there would be future opportunities for Members to engage with the Local List. The Leader of the Council confirmed that the panel would continue to work to develop the Local List document and noted that it would be updated annually. He stated that all Members were encouraged to engage with this process as they had been previously.
9.4 Councillor Hilton raised concerns that some of the heritage assets included in the Local List were in the wrong ward and expressed the view that more work was needed on the Local List document. He referred to assets listed in Kingsholm which were in fact in Elmbridge and noted that the assets listed in Longlevens were also now in Elmbridge. Councillor Hilton commented that it was important that the document was accurate and that these errors were rectified ahead of final approval. It was noted that 2016 boundary maps were used to ascertain the relevant wards and the City Archeologist confirmed that officers could review the document and check that the wards were correct.
9.5 Councillor Hilton also queried why many of the assets were being proposed for addition to the Local List when they were already in conservation areas, such as Manor Farm House and Hillfield Gardens. He expressed the view that these assets would already have protection and that his preference would be to filter out assets which were already in conservation areas and focus on protecting those outside.
9.6 The City Archeologist explained that the Local List was a live document. He noted that once adopted, the list would be shared with Historic England and it would be updated annually in line with additions and removals. The City Archeologist stated that he would hesitate to exclude assets which were already in conservation areas as he felt there was still real value for assets and premises in being added to the Local List as it provided an additional layer of protection.
9.7 In response to a further query from Councillor Hilton, the Heritage Engagement Officer confirmed that a consultation had taken place and that the general public and asset owners were encouraged to participate. She reiterated that the Local List was a dynamic and fluid document. The Heritage Engagement Officer noted that it may take up to a year for Historic England to update their records and it was likely that assets would be added or removed as time goes on.
9.8 Councillor Hilton referred to the Consultation Response report at Appendix 3 and the reference to ‘St Mark Street’, and noted that that the street was not included in the Local List at Appendix 2. The Heritage Engagement Officer explained that the List had been updated since the publication of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee agenda, reiterating that it was a live document. She confirmed that nominations came from members of the public, including Councillors, and were considered on merit alongside the selection criteria.
9.9 In response to a further query from Councillor Hilton regarding the final published Local List, the Heritage Engagement Officer confirmed that all properties which had been accepted would be put forward to Historic England. She confirmed that these assets would be given added protection through Local List status.
9.10 The Chair queried who the owner of the Gloucester Sainsburys Collins Relief asset was. The Leader confirmed his understanding that this land was owned by Mountcharm.
9.11 In response to a query from Councillor Hilton regarding the colour-painted houses on St Marks Street, the City Archeologist confirmed that the latest Local List document had been updated to refer to the street as ‘colour-painted’ houses rather than Rainbow Street.
9.12 Councillor Hilton requested clarification as to who had nominated the colour-painted houses on St Marks Street for inclusion in the Local List. He noted that local Members were not aware, and expressed the view that it did not meet the selection criteria and that colour-painted housing was not sufficient grounds for inclusion in the Local List. The Head of Place explained the process for assets to be added to the Local List and noted that property owners had been encouraged to engage with the Council through the consultation process. He further explained that it was down to the Local List nomination panel to decide whether to accept or decline additions to the Local List and reiterated that it was a live document which would be updated on an annual basis. The Head of Place noted that the team had already spent a considerable amount of work on the project and were happy to answer any questions.
9.13 Councillor Hilton raised concerns that only one Councillor had a seat on the nomination panel. The Leader responded that an invite had been shared at the start of the process for Members to sit on the panel but only one volunteer had put themselves forward.
9.14 Councillor Hilton expressed the view that the report was good but incomplete and that there were anomalies which needed addressing before the report proceeded to Cabinet for approval. Councillor Hilton reiterated his view that buildings in conservation areas did not need to be included in the Local List as they already had protection. The City Archeologist commented that the Council had sought advice from Historic England on this matter and they had confirmed that inclusion in the Local List added additional weight and protection in the planning process. He further noted that there was always a risk that assets could be missed but the Heritage team were responsible for overseeing the List and assets could be added or removed if needed.
9.15 Councillor Organ raised concerns that admitting assets on the basis of art or colour-painting could set a precedent. He queried whether it might be useful for the Planning Policy Working Group to have a role in reviewing the document. The Head of Place explained that the Local List was not concerned with listing buildings, but instead identified locally important assets. He explained that if there was a planning application in the pipeline with a potential impact on the asset, inclusion on the Local List would be a flag in a Planning Officer’s mind when considering an application. He agreed with Councillor Organ that consultation with the Planning Policy Working Group on an annual basis could be explored.
9.16 Councillor Wilson commented that he was pleased to see the inclusion of Conway Road properties on the Local List. He referred to additional properties in Hucclecote which he thought may have been included and queried whether they had been excluded due to their Grade II listing. The Heritage Engagement Officer confirmed that Councillor Wilson was correct and that the Local List did not include statutory listed buildings.
9.17 Councillor Wilson suggested that local graded buildings be included as an addendum to the Local List. The City Archeologist explained that the GIS Planning system would have all the statutory listed buildings and the Local List data, and all of this data would be mapped and accessible as part of the planning process.
9.18 Councillor Sawyer referred to earlier comments concerning ward changes and confirmed that the assets listed in Longlevens were in Elmbridge. She expressed the view that the report was a good starting block and wondered whether it would be beneficial if it was circulated to all Members for their views and comments, as elected Members were well placed to represent residents’ views. She noted that this also might be an opportunity for Members to check that ward boundaries were listed correctly. It was noted that Members were welcome to draw areas of heritage or archeological interest to the attention of the Heritage team.
9.19 In response to a query from Councillor Durdey regarding whether property owners could request removal from the Local List, the Head of Place confirmed that asset owners could request to be removed. The Heritage Engagement Officer noted that the Heritage team were engaging with owners directly and that channels of communication were open. In addition, the City Archeologist further explained that although it was open to owners to request removal from the Local List, the entry would not be removed from the Historic England record, and it would still be flagged on planning systems.
9.20 Councillor Gravells commended the hard work of the Heritage team in preparing the report and congratulated them for their work, particularly around Sherrif’s Mill. He raised concerns about owners being able to remove themselves from the Local List and expressed the view that this made the protection toothless. The Leader of the Council thanked Councillor Gravells for recognising the efforts of the team. The City Archeologist explained that even where owners request removal from the Local List, monuments would have still been brought to the attention of Historic England and would still be flagged by archeologists and heritage officers. He noted that removal from the Local List would not stop officers from flagging the assets during any planning application. Councillor Gravells responded that he felt it weakened the protection if owners could remove their assets and expressed the view that it should not be made easy for them to do so.
9.21 Councillor Organ noted that forcing owners to remain on the Local List arbitrarily might present difficulties for owners wishing to sell their properties. He expressed the view that communication with owners was key and that the Council should try and find a balance. Councillor Organ suggested that a useful step might be to remind owners about how they can access protection through the Local List, and to work to identify buildings which could benefit from protection. He noted that it was a great initiative and that he anticipated a good result.
9.22 Councillor Hilton expressed the view that more involvement with Members was needed, commenting that although lots of work had already been undertaken, he would like further opportunities for elected Members to consider the report as he still had many questions and concerns about the balance of listed properties. He felt that circulating an updated document to all Councillors for their comments ahead of final approval by Cabinet would be useful, expressing that it was important to get the approach right.
9.23 The Leader of the Council reiterated that it was a fluid list and that he would encourage Members to be involved. The Head of Place commented that if the Committee recommended that all Councillors review the Local List ahead of approval by Cabinet, his advice would be to delay the report by 1 month to provide Members with the chance to review the document and submit any minor corrections.
RESOLVED that the Overview & Scrutiny Committee RECOMMENDS that:
1) An updated Local List of heritage assets be circulated to all Councillors ahead of the final report reaching Cabinet, to provide Members with an opportunity to submit their views and identify any minor errors before approval.