Road Investment Strategy – Stonehenge and the A303

Today (Monday 1 December, 2014) the Government has announced, as part of its Road Investment Strategy, that it will be investing in a new 2.9km tunnel to remove the A303 from the Stonehenge landscape.

English Heritage [1] and National Trust [2] as guardians of Stonehenge and its World Heritage Site, see this announcement as a “truly momentous decision” in the modern history of one of the most famous places in the world.

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Lyveden wind farm plans withdrawn

Plans to build four wind turbines near the historic Lyveden New Bield have been withdrawn.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 Following a lengthy legal battle, the energy company has finally withdrawn the application from the planning process.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.

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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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