What is conservation and how does the Surrey Gardens Trust get involved?
An important part of the conservation of parks and gardens is monitoring and responding to planning applications that are regularly made to local authorities which may either directly or indirectly impact on a historic park or garden or other designed landscape both of national and local importance.
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 Historic England Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest, i.e. they are Grade I, II* or II listed.
The Gardens Trust works closely with its colleagues in the county gardens trusts to ensure that together we are able to give authoritative, local and specialist advice on planning and other conservation matters.
The role of local planning authorities in conservation
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 planning application should therefore be considered carefully by the local authorities for its potential impact on designed views into, as well as from, a landscape and its 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.
The role of the county gardens trust in conservation
On a weekly basis, the Gardens Trust's conservation team review the applications notified by local authorities and compile a 'weekly list'. The Conservation Officer will determine which consultations are potentially of national importance and will liaise directly with a contact at the relevant county gardens trust to decide what action is required. In addition, the full list is circulated to contacts in the county gardens trusts who have agreed to monitor the list. As the Gardens Trust does not employ regional conservation officers to deal with routine casework it must instead work closely with volunteers in the county gardens trusts.
What does this mean in practice for volunteers in the Surrey Gardens Trust?
Members of the Research and Recording Group monitor the weekly list distributed by the Gardens Trust and, when appropriate, are actively able to help to protect the Surrey parks and gardens heritage by influencing local authority planning policies and contributing constructive and informative comment on planning applications. This helps to ensure that proposed developments respect and enhance our parks and gardens heritage.
Some proposals may involve significant landscape changes but the majority relate to lesser matters often associated with buildings and structures within the registered parks and gardens. An archive of summary reports of proposed planning applications notified to or noted by the Trust is available in our Planning Casework Archive. A list of the planning authorities within Surrey is set out below. Details of current applications can be found through these links.
To enable proper consideration of the development, any application proposing changes to parks and gardens should include an historical appraisal and impact assessment. The Trust supports the production of these statements. The research which compliments and indeed has created the records included in the Historic Gardens lists is essential to the creation of these supporting documents and plays a critical role in the conservation of our landscape heritage.
The Research and Recording Group has developed very good working relationships with planning authorities to facilitate useful discussion when matters arise. This also encourages the authorities to contact the Trust in relation to sites of local interest, non-designated under the planning legislation but of local significance. We share our expertise and knowledge whenever we can assist them in their conservation work.
Details of recent research projects and the work of the Research and Recording Group are set out under Research. If you would like to come along to meet the group and learn more about what we do please contact us.
Surrey's Planning Authorities
Elmbridge Borough Council
Epsom and Ewell Borough Council
Guildford Borough Council
Mole Valley District Council
Reigate and Banstead Borough Council
Runnymede Borough Council
Spelthorne Borough Council
Surrey Heath Borough Council
Tandridge District Council
Waverley Borough Council
Woking Borough Council
Supporting local projects
An important part of our conservation work is supporting local projects which enhance historic sites by giving some financial support. This is discussed in more detail under Outreach/Small Grants.