The six scones of Christmas

One of the nation’s favourite tea-time treats has been given a Christmas makeover by a National Trust chef who has devised six festive scones to compete with the traditional mince pie.

The traditional Christmas dinner in scones. Credit Robert Conwell.

The traditional Christmas dinner in scones. Credit Robert Conwell.

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New report shows that planning policy needs to put people and places first

Reacting to the publication today (16 December 2014) of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee report on the operation of the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF), Richard Hebditch, assistant director of external affairs at the National Trust, said: “The National Trust welcomes the findings of this cross-party report. The Government needs to tackle loopholes in the NPPF which mean it is too open to challenge from ‘streetwise’ developers.

“The Committee’s findings are the latest in a growing body of evidence that the NPPF is allowing developers to ignore the local communities it said would be at the very heart of its new approach. New National Trust research shows that even where a council has a local plan in place, these are being challenged by developers.

“The Government’s planning rules need revising so that they put people and places first.”

Housing developers ‘gaming’ the planning system to get new estates built in countryside

Developers are ‘gaming’ the planning system to get applications approved for lucrative new housing estates in the countryside – even in areas where councils had plans in place to meet housing needs in other locations,  new research by the National Trust has revealed.

The conservation charity found flaws in the government’s planning rules were being exploited by developers to get homes built on green-field sites even though local authorities had never intended them to be built on.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was introduced two years ago to boost development and tackle the housing crisis by cutting red tape. At the time ministers pledged that local communities would be given a greater say over planning rules and decisions on new development. New local plans would be ‘sovereign.’

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Taking weeding to the extreme!

Having a head for heights is a pre-requisite for the four strong team of gardeners at St Michael’s Mount, located just off the south Cornwall coast.

As part of the work to conserve the 12th Century castle, the granite stone walls need weeding three times each year to ensure the walls are constantly kept clear.

St Michael's Mount where gardeners go to 'extreme' lengths to keep the walls weed free. Credit Steven Haywood

St Michael’s Mount where gardeners go to ‘extreme’ lengths to keep the walls weed free. Credit Steven Haywood

The only way the gardeners can carry out their work is to abseil down the 50 metre high castle walls. Continue reading

Custodians of living history

The Woodland Trust’s Ancient Tree Specialist, Jill Butler, writes about her favourite National Trust trees and the threats facing the UK’s historic trees.

“As a tree archaeologist, I don’t find it very surprising that the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is one of the major custodians of ancient and other veteran trees.

The ancient Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede in Surrey. Credit John Miller

The ancient Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede in Surrey. Credit John Miller

“One of the most special on my list would be the Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede in Surrey. It is thought to be the location where King John, almost 800 years to the day, sealed the Magna Carta. Yews, which can live such long lives, were often used to distinguish burial or religious sites or venues for special occasions.

“The National Trust’s Ankerwycke Yew, Shugborough Yew and Newton’s Apple Tree were, quite rightly, shortlisted in this year’s Tree of the Year competition for England run by the Woodland Trust. The Woodland Trust believes that these, along with other National Trust trees like the Tolpuddle Martyr’s Sycamore, should be on a Register of Trees of National Special Interest. This would be a means of giving top recognition to the part they play in our history and landscape, as we do for many other national assets.

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Sussex project tops off boom in National Trust tree planting

This week marked the start of the largest ever National Trust tree planting project at the conservation charity’s Slindon Estate in West Sussex.

The ten year programme, named ‘The Rise of Northwood’, will see 75 hectares (185 acres) of woodland – the equivalent of 105 football pitches – restored to its former glory, having been removed during the First and Second World Wars. Thanks to a generous legacy left to the Trust for use in the South Downs, the Slindon Estate team’s vision for the area has become a reality.

Ranger Hannah Woodhouse firms the soil around a new yew, credit www.scottramsey.co.uk

Ranger Hannah Woodhouse firms the soil around a new yew, credit http://www.scottramsey.co.uk

 

Over three months, volunteers will help to plant 13,500 native trees at Northwood using seeds collected from the surrounding woodland. In just two days, more than 3,000 trees had already been planted, thanks to the support of more than 100 volunteers.

This planting, however, is just the beginning of a ten year project, with many more trees expected to emerge through natural colonisation, direct seeding and further planting of saplings.

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£5 million pledged to England coast path

Runners taking a break on the South West Coast Path, Studland, Dorset.

Runners taking a break on the South West Coast Path, Studland, Dorset. Credit National Trust images, Chris Lacey.

 

As the Government announces a further £5 million will be committed to speeding up the creation of the coastal path around England, Simon Pryor, Natural England Director at the National Trust, gives his reaction to the news:

“Millions of us visit the English coast every year and we have a deep and strong emotional connection with the coastal places that we cherish.

“This financial back-up of the commitment to open up access to the coastline of England by 2020 continues the journey which has led to better rights of way, and the creation of national trails and National Parks.

“An all England coastal footpath will mean that people can see old favourites anew and connect with a part of the country that has shaped our national identity.”

The National Trust looks after 742 miles of coast in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including one in three miles of the South West of England coast and five miles of the White Cliffs of Dover.