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. At the heart of the merger was a joint project between the Association of Gardens Trust, the Garden History Society and Historic England called the Historic Landscape Project (HLP) and this remains central to our work in conservation with a programme of study days and meet up sessions to enable close and effective collaboration between the Gardens Trust and the County Gardens Trusts and the wider network of interested heritage bodies including Historic England, local authorities, Natural England and Parks & Gardens UK as well as other amenity societies.
Find out more about your local County Gardens Trust here.
Consultations relating to registered sites
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. The CGTs, as members of the Gardens Trust, may respond to applications in consultation with the Gardens Trust. A CGT response may however be independent of a response from the Gardens Trust.
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. Each application should therefore be considered carefully for its potential impact on designed views into, as well as from, the landscape and setting. 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.
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 is central to this process.
We have recently published a guidance leaflet, The Planning System in England and the Protection of Historic Parks and Gardens, to explain the place of historic designed landscapes in the planning system, the importance of assessing significance, the statutory consultation obligations, and the role of the Gardens Trust and the County Gardens Trusts. This can be found under Conservation publications.
Conservation Publications also incorporates a comprehensive series of advice notes on planning and the historic designed landscape as well as links to other guidance and policy on all aspects of managing the historic environment. The Resource Hub is collated by the HLP and is an invaluable source of a large range of support materials to help County Gardens Trusts in their conservation work.
Consultations relating to non-registered sites
The Gardens Trust receives some consultations relating to sites which are not included on the Historic England Register. In some cases it will be possible for us to provide appropriate advice. In other cases, however, we do not have sufficient information about the site concerned, and in these cases work with the relevant County Garden Trust to address the issue.
The Gardens Trust responds to Government consultations on national policy issues. Most recently a written submission has been made to the Communities and Local Government Committee inquiry into public parks to examine the impact of reduced local authority budgets on these open spaces and consider concerns that their existence is under threat. The Gardens Trust has highlighted this issue in a new publication: Paradise Lost: the new crisis in historic urban parks, refer to News & Campaigns.
During the year the Gardens Trust receives many enquiries of a more general nature. We make every effort to respond to these enquiries, but sometimes, especially at particularly busy periods, this may take some time as statutory consultations and policy consultations must take priority.
If you are sending an enquiry relating to a particular site, please try to provide as much information as possible — especially if the site concerned is not included on the Register.