Lyveden wind farm plans withdrawn

Plans to build four wind turbines near the historic Lyveden New Bield have been withdrawn.

West Coast Energy applied to build four 400ft (125m) wind turbines on land close to Lyveden New Bield, home to a Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house, lodge and garden. Following a lengthy legal battle, the energy company has finally withdrawn the application from the planning process. Continue reading

Stonehenge transformed by new visitor centre

The long-awaited Stonehenge exhibition and visitor centre will open on 18 December.

Stonehenge VC_0043

The new Stonehenge exhibition and visitor centre, a sensitively designed modern building, is located 1.5 miles away from Stonehenge and designed by leading practice Denton Corker Marshall.

For the first time, visitors will have a proper introduction to one of the world’s most important prehistoric monuments – set within the landscape looked after by the National Trust.

Continue reading

Culture Secretary Maria Miller appoints Sir Laurie Magnus as new Chairman for English Heritage

Sir Laurie Magnus, currently our Deputy Chairman, has been appointed as the new Chairman of English Heritage.

Sir Laurie will step down as our Deputy Chairman in September.

Sir Laurie Magnus

Sir Laurie Magnus

Simon Jenkins, Chairman, says:

“We are sad that Laurie will be leaving the National Trust but delighted that he will taking up this role to help lead English Heritage at this exciting time.

“Laurie has had a long and distinguished career at the centre of the Trust’s work for eleven years. During this time he has overseen the implementation of our new governance regime, helped to restore the Trust’s finances and has been an enthusiastic supporter of our work to bring our places to life.

“We wish him well in his new role as he continues to champion the nation’s heritage.”

22,000 people celebrate summer solstice at Stonehenge and Avebury

Over 22,000 people gathered to celebrate the coming of the summer solstice at National Trust Stonehenge Landscape and Avebury on Friday morning. The weather surpassed all expectations to create a beautiful sunset and clear evening, however low cloud came in over night obscuring the sunrise at 4:52 am.

Within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, the National Trust manages 827 hectares (2,100 acres) of downland surrounding the famous stone circle. The stone circle itself is owned and managed by English Heritage.

Jan Tomlin, General Manager of Stonehenge and Avebury mentioned:

“We celebrate solstice twice a year in this country, both in June and December.

“Our role at Stonehenge is supporting English Heritage who expected something in the region of 30,000 visitors to come across our land.”

“We have a whole team of volunteers to help people get across the land safely and to make sure they have the best evening possible.”

Meet some of the National Trust team making the Stonehenge summer solstice possible this year.

Protection for Lyveden “one step closer” thanks to High Court wind farm decision

The National Trust is delighted that the legal challenge to the High Court has succeeded against a Planning Inspector’s decision to grant planning permission for four wind turbines near Lyveden New Bield in Northamptonshire. 

The turbines would have overshadowed Lyveden’s Grade I listed Elizabethan Lodge and garden, having a significant impact on its peaceful, historic setting.

Lyveden showing mast height

Picture of Lyveden New Bield showing the height of proposed masts

The legal challenge was brought jointly by the National Trust, English Heritage and the local planning authority, East Northamptonshire Council.

The development had been approved by the Planning Inspector on appeal after planning permission was initially refused by East Northamptonshire Council.

The Judge found that the Inspector failed to fulfil his statutory duty under section 66 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 which requires him to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the setting of heritage assets when making his decision on whether or not to grant planning permission. 

She also found that the Inspector didn’t properly apply and interpret the relevant planning policies on the effect the development would have on the setting of Lyveden New Bield and that the Inspector failed to give adequate reasons for his decision.

On leaving the High Court, Mark Bradshaw, the National Trust’s Property Manager at Lyveden New Bield, said: “We are delighted with the outcome.

“We hope this brings to an end a five-year battle to preserve and protect the important setting of some of our most significant heritage assets.

“Lyveden is of international importance. The harm to heritage assets like Lyveden should be weighed against the benefits of wind farms.”

Director-General of the National Trust, Helen Ghosh, said: “Lyveden is a remarkable building with a very particular spirit.  We are delighted that our visitors’ experience of its beautiful setting is now one step closer to being safeguarded”.

“Clearly every legal case is different but this is an important decision in the defence of the historic environment from inappropriate development.”

Lyveden New Bield

The beautiful setting of Lyveden New Bield

The result means that a fresh planning inquiry will need to be convened to re-consider the appeal against the original planning decision.

The National Trust continues to believe that there is a case for wind power in the nation’s energy mix, but each wind farm proposal should be appropriate in site and scale.

For further media information please contact Cat Philpott.

Lyveden New Bield is one of England’s oldest garden landscapes and features an unfinished Tudor garden lodge, steeped in Catholic symbolism. Work on Lyveden stopped suddenly in 1605 when its creator, Sir Thomas Tresham, died and his son became embroiled in the Gunpowder Plot. The Elizabethan moats, mounts and terracing have been restored and the orchard re-planted with period varieties. There is a 3D video tour of the landscape here.

Evening Standard article on English Heritage blue plaques

Commenting on an article in today’s Evening Standard, a National Trust spokesman said:

“The article ‘National Trust saves our blue plaques for the nation’ in today’s Evening Standard has jumped several guns.

“The Trust currently has no role in the scheme which is ably managed by English Heritage.

“The plaques are much loved by Londoners and certainly worth saving. This was incorrectly interpreted as the Trust ‘stepping in’ to save the scheme.

“Should we be asked, we would be more than happy to explore with English Heritage any options for keeping it open.”

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Legal challenge launched against landmark wind farm decision

The National Trust, English Heritage and East Northamptonshire Council are today making a joint legal challenge against planning permission for a wind farm that would be built within 1 mile of a Grade I listed building and registered park and garden.

The proposal would see four 126.5m wind turbines built within the setting of the Lyveden New Bield site – a place described by the Planning Inspector who granted approval for the plans as “probably the finest example of an Elizabethan garden [with a] cultural value of national if not international significance”.

After planning permission was initially refused by the local Council, the development was given consent on appeal in March 2012.  The three organisations started legal proceedings on 23 April under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990*.  It is extremely rare for English Heritage and the National Trust to pursue legal action and it is the first time that East Northamptonshire Council has ever taken a case to this level.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust said, “We fully support renewable energy and have made our own commitment to halve our dependence on fossil fuels by 2020.  We have also backed a number of wind proposals where scale and setting have been considered appropriate.

“However, the decision to allow a development of this size so close to one of the country’s most treasured historic places is both damaging to Lyveden New Bield and could have serious implications for other heritage sites across the UK.

“It is because of the threat this decision poses to the setting of all our valued historic sites that we, along with English Heritage and the local Council, have taken the significant step of making an appeal to the Administrative Court.”

As a Grade I listed building, registered park and garden and scheduled ancient monument, Lyveden New Bield’s unfinished Elizabethan lodge and gardens have the highest heritage designation possible.  The wind turbines would be prominent, modern, intrusive structures in a landscape that still evokes the character of Lyveden New Bield’s historic Rockingham Forest surroundings.  The turbines would be visible from almost everywhere on the property and would severely affect the appreciation of this wonderful place.

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said, “We were extremely disappointed by the Inspector’s decision to allow the wind farm.  Our challenge to his decision is not simply about the balance of professional judgement between heritage and renewable energy.  The Inspector did not adequately take into account the contribution that Lyveden New Bield’s historic and rural surroundings make to its immense significance.

“In our view, therefore, he failed to have ‘special regard’ for the desirability of preserving the special interest of the listed building and its setting which the law requires of him as decision-maker in this case.

“This decision is highly unusual and must not be allowed to become the benchmark for future wind-energy developments.”

Leader of East Northamptonshire Council, Steven North added, “East Northamptonshire Council is committed to the use of renewable energy sources wherever it is practicable but not to the detriment of the historic landscape.  It is regrettable that it has come to this, but we fully support this legal challenge and will be working closely with the National Trust and English Heritage to protect this heritage site.”

*Section 288 provides a legal right for people who are affected by a planning permission to apply to the courts for redress if they can show that the decision maker made an erroneous decision in law.  A challenge brought under section 288 is designed to put under judicial scrutiny the way in which the decision maker reached their decision rather than the merits of the decision.

Further information

1) Planning

Further information on the planning application (case reference 2156757) can be found at:  www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/ViewCase.asp?caseid=2156757&coid=32833

The National Trust’s response to the planning appeal can be seen here:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/press/press-releases/view-page/item772786/

2) National Trust energy policy

  • As a trusted guardian of places of ‘historic interest and natural beauty’ the National Trust has a fundamental duty to do all we can to avoid any inappropriate development that could compromise special landscapes.  This means that we will always encourage and participate in a robust and rigorous debate about the right locations and scale for any energy infrastructure that might affect our land.
  • We believe that there is a place for wind in a mix of renewable technologies which we must pursue to help us meet the country’s low carbon energy needs and thereby tackle climate change.  But each wind proposal should be located, designed and on a scale that avoids compromising the special qualities of its locality.
  • In February 2010 we launched our ‘Grow Your Own’ strategy with ambitious targets to halve our dependence on fossil fuels by 2020.  We are using a wide range of technology, including where appropriate wind, to reach these targets.

The National Trust’s position on wind energy can be viewed at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/what-we-do/big-issues/energy-and-climate-change/our-views/view-page/item749709/

3) Lyveden New Bield

Lyveden New Bield is one of England’s oldest garden landscapes and features an unfinished Tudor garden lodge, steeped in Catholic symbolism. Work on Lyveden stopped suddenly in 1605 when its creator, Sir Thomas Tresham, died and his son became embroiled in the Gunpowder Plot. The Elizabethan moats, mounts and terracing have been restored and the orchard re-planted with period varieties.

4) English Heritage

English Heritage is the Government’s statutory advisor on the historic environment.  Our guidance on setting and views can be found here http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/professional/advice/advice-by-topic/setting-and-views/

Our advice on wind energy can be found here http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/professional/advice/advice-by-topic/climate-change/renewable-energy/wind-energy/

We provide advice on how best to conserve England’s heritage for the benefit of everyone.  While most of England’s heritage is in private hands, we work with all who come into contact with it – landowners, businesses, planners and developers, national, regional and local government, the Third Sector, local communities and the general public –  to help them understand, value, care for and enjoy England’s historic environment.