Autumn School: Making Places - Strategies for Managing Major Traffic Routes through Historic Towns and Villages

Monday 2nd & Tuesday 3rd December 2019, County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford SG13 8DP
Please note new dates! Tickets: £45-310 for 1 or 2 days
A 2-day Autumn School being run by the Historic Towns and Villages Forum in which delegates will hear from experts, and then propose solutions for the challenge of balancing our need to travel with our desire for better places for people.
This Autumn School in Hertford is an opportunity to look at how cities, towns and villages can rethink busy traffic routes. Public consultation held earlier this year by Hertfordshire County Council looked at proposals for the major east-west A414 road corridor, which runs from Hemel Hempstead and Watford in the west to Harlow in the east, linking the M1, A1(M) and the A10 motorways. Along this transport corridor is the attractive county town of Hertford, which sees a large proportion of through, between town and local traffic. 
Hertford is an historic town and, like many others around the country, has to plan for how it can better manage today's traffic through its town centre, as well as how to connect new housing growth areas, and meet longer distance travel needs. Balancing the infrastructure associated with housing growth and the urgent need for more sustainable travel choices is a big issue for many places, and Hertford is a classic example.  With the recent A414 consultation raising options of re-allocating road space to other users, building a town ring road, developing a mass rapid transit system, and more, there are many issues, priorities and potential solutions to consider.

The seminar+workshop format of this Autumn School will give participants the chance to learn from the process underway in Hertford for their own places. Delegates will:

·         hear from those involved in the A414 options consultation earlier this year

·         consider the evidence gathered to-date

·         hear about conflicting 'place vs. movement' pressures on the town

·         learn from transport and urban design experts about innovative case studies from the UK and overseas

·         walk around the town centre with urban designers

·         develop criteria for decision-making

·         identify options for managing future traffic growth and place-making needs, and

·         develop their own ideas for Hertford which will be transferable elsewhere.

PROGRAMME - DAY 1 – Monday 2 December
9am           Tea and coffee on arrival
9.30am       Welcome, Louise Thomas, HTVF Director
9.45am       Introduction to the A414 and Hertford, Rupert Thacker, Head of Highways Strategy and Implementation, Hertfordshire County Council
10.15am     Streets for People - Why Making Better Places For People Matters, Nicholas Boys Smith, David Milner, Robert Kwolek, Create Streets

10.45am     The Climate Change Imperative, John Duncan, Extinction Rebellion East Herts
11.15am     Q&A followed by tea and coffee
11.45am     Enabling and Designing for Different Travel Choices along Urban Corridors, Phil Jones, Phil Jones Associates
12.15pm     Guided Busways – Cambridgeshire’s Success Story, Graham Hughes, Executive Director, Cambridgeshire County Council
12.45pm    Q&A
1pm           Lunch
1.45pm      Hertford: The Opportunities to Make Better Places from Spaces, Tim Hagyard, former Planning Team Leader and Urban Designer, East Hertfordshire District Council
2.15pm      Site visit - Walkabout in groups led by local experts
4pm           Tea and coffee
4.15pm      Workshop 1: First Impressions and Priorities
4.45pm      Learning from Elsewhere – Making Radical Changes to Traffic Networks, Stephen O’Malley, Civic Engineers
5.15pm      Q&A and Close of Day 1 seminar
7.30pm      Optional dinner at local venue
DAY 2     – Tuesday 3 December
9.30am             Tea and coffee on arrival
Welcome and plan for Day 2, Louise Thomas, HTVF Director
9.45am       Herts Orbital Transit: quality travel across central Hertfordshire, Reg Harman, independent transport consultant
10.15am     Better Planning, Better Transport, Better Places - for people, Lynda Addison, Chair of the CIHT Sustainable Transport Panel and Immediate past Chair of the Transport Planning Society
10.45am     Q&A followed by tea and coffee
11.30am     Making Connections and Restoring Links in Historic Towns: Rochester, Duncan Berntsen, Medway Council
12pm         Workshop 2: Weighting for decision-making: what are the priorities for Hertford and the A414?
12.30pm    Workshop 3: What is your Vision for Hertford and the A414?
1pm           Lunch
1.45pm      Workshop 4: Developing Options
3pm           Tea and coffee
3.15pm      Presentation of ideas: – groups voice ideas generated with audience of invited local authorities’ and organisations’ representatives
4.15pm      Discussion & Next Steps:  How do we balance our Place and Movement needs and expectations?
5pm     Close of Autumn School

This Autumn School is supported by Hertfordshire County Council and the Urban Design Group.


Whitchurch Silk Mill in Basingstoke. Photograph by Simon Burchell

Writing Supplementary Planning Documents & Strategies for the Historic Environment

Tuesday 12 November 2019, Kellogg College, Oxford
Tickets: £35-155
This seminar-workshop will look at best practice for writing policies for the future of heritage assets, their settings and enhancements.  We will explore what makes effective and clear policies and plan-making to protect historic environments, and the role that writing good guidance has in their future.  Delegates will learn about recent experience of preparing new heritage-related policies on:
  • the future of listed buildings, designated and non-designated heritage assets
  • development in the setting of heritage assets
  • Heritage at Risk
  • drawing up action plans for archaeology
  • shopfront guidance, and how to promote details that matter such as doors and windows
  • biodiversity, energy efficiency and green infrastructure
  • the criteria for local listing, and
  • the pitfalls and best strategies in a hands-on workshop session.
One of the case studies will be Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's new Heritage Supplementary Planning Document, which responds to the needs of very grand and well-known listed buildings such as Highclere Castle in the heart of Jane Austen country, to locally-loved heritage landmarks and high street shopfronts.

9.30am        Tea and coffee on arrival

9.45am        Welcome, Louise Thomas, HTVF Director

10am           Here’s one I made earlier: Tips for writing valuable Heritage-related Guidance, Christina Duckett, Principal Conservation Officer, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

10.45am      Developing a City-wide Heritage Strategy and Local Listing Strategy, TBC

11.15am      Q&A followed by tea and coffee

11.45am      Preparing a District-wide Heritage Strategy and the Role of Communities, Karen Britton, Planning Manager, Canterbury City Council

12.15pm      Q&A

12.45pm      Lunch

1.45pm        Approaching an Archaeological Action Plan, David Radford, Archaeologist, Oxford City Council

2.15pm        Introduction to Workshop: Louise Thomas & Christina Duckett

3.15pm        Tea and coffee

3.45pm        Learning From Elsewhere, Rob Lloyd-Sweet, Historic Places Advisor, Historic England

4.15pm        Community Involvement in Developing a Local List, TBC

4.45pm        Discussion & Close

This event counts as 6 hours of CPD. Join the HTVF now and save money – see for details


York: Keyhole Surgery

Increasing the Capacity and

Performance of Historic Centres

Thursday 21st November 2019
Friargate Meeting House, Lower Friargate, York YO1 9RL

Inserting large scale mixed-use development into historic centres requires understanding, imagination and confidence. The all-embracing, all-or-nothing master plan can work, but too often results in uncomfortable juxtapositions, poor economic performance or complete failure.  Intelligent master planning allows corrections and adaptations over the implementation phases to accommodate evolving understanding, exploit unexpected opportunities and respond to changing circumstances and expectations. All without undermining viability, compromising design quality or harming heritage assets.

York’s rich history represents centuries of urban evolution that continues today. This seminar and site exploration will interrogate the city’s plans for the future the development these are stimulating.
Participants will hear from the City's Archaeologist, City officers leading the renovation of the Guildhall and Castle Gateway major projects and the masterplanners of Castle Gateway and York Central.  They will learn how community representatives have come together to define community briefs for new places. The walking tour, led by City officers, will set these places firmly in their historical context.

The Guildhall is part of York’s most prestigious and historically significant complex, comprising Grade I, II* and II listed buildings built around the 15th century hall and riverside meeting room. It has been the seat of civic governance since the 1200s, and yet has seen minimal maintenance since 1942 bombing raids. A renovation project will bring the Guildhall’s historic role into the 21st century with new office space, greater community use and green technology.
Castle Gateway is described by the community conversation platform My Future York as "... an opportunity to identify new future uses, buildings and public space with the overall aim to create a part of York that is valued, well-used and loved."  Regeneration will create retail, leisure and residential facilities, to complement and reinforce the vitality of the city centre. It will also enhance the setting of Clifford's Tower and the quality of public space and accessibility throughout the area.
York Central, west of the city’s railway station and contained by rail lines, is one of the largest brownfield regeneration sites in England. With the National Railway Museum, private housing and businesses, the new neighbourhood has been designated a UK Government Housing and Enterprise Zone.  


9.30am            Tea and coffee on arrival

9.45am            Welcome, David Warburton, Head of Regeneration Programmes (York Central and Guildhall complex), City of York Council & Timothy Crawshaw, HTVF Vice-Chair

10am               York: A Unique Heritage Context, Peter Gouldsborough, York Civic Trust
10.30am          Hungate and major city centre projects, John Oxley, City Archaeologist, City of York Council
10.50am          The Significance of the York Guildhall project, David Warburton, City of York Council

11.10am          The Origins of the York Castle Gateway project, Andy Kerr, Head of Regeneration Programmes (Castle Gateway and City Centre), City of York Council

11.30am          Q&A followed by tea and coffee

12pm               Drawing out the meaning of place: The Castle Gateway Masterplan, Francis Glare, Head of Urbanism, BDP

12.30pm          York Central, Jason Syrett, Partner, Allies and Morrison

1pm                 Q&A followed by lunch

1.45pm            Community Engagement: My Future York, Dr Helen Graham, Leeds University and Phil Bixby, Constructive Individuals
2.15pm            Walking tour around York city centre
4.30pm            Close
This event counts as 5 hours of CPD. Join the HTVF now and save money - see for details.  This event has been kindly supported by City of York Council.


Abode, Great Kneighton, Cambridge, designed by Proctor & Matthews. Photo by Tim Crocker

Character, Quality & Design in Neighbourhood Planning and beyond

Tuesday 26 November 2019, Kellogg College, Oxford

Tickets £35-155​ 


This seminar-workshop on design quality is for communities and professionals alike, and will explore the role of design in Neighbourhood Planning and other policy-making contexts. As so many Neighbourhood Planning groups go through a learning curve consulting their neighbours, analysing and allocating sites, and finally writing policies, design quality is often understated.


Yet the quality and layout of new development makes a great difference to the future character of settlements. In the past some communities have prepared Village Design Statements to capture the local character and start to set out design parameters, and so this seminar-workshop will look at how to bridge the gap between identifying local character and specifying design quality in various ways. Delegates will hear about:

  • Locality's new Toolkit Achieving well-designed places through neighbourhood planning, and the funding support available for greater design aspirations
  • How to make your Neighbourhood Plan much more environmentally efficient
  • The role of pattern books in moving from seeing character to identifying design policies to deliver it
  • How top housing architects are responding to the challenge of housing growth and local character, especially in large developments - the Distinctively Local campaign
  • Best practice in writing design policies for neighbourhood plans with a strong heritage and design backdrop, and
  • a hands-on workshop session to explore the issues on the day.


9.30am        Tea and coffee on arrival

9.45am        Welcome, Louise Thomas, HTVF Director
10am           Neighbourhood Planning & Design Quality the story so far, Jeff Bishop, Executive Associate, Place Studio
10.45am      Supporting Design in Neighbourhood Plans – the new Locality Toolkit, Ben Castell, Director, AECOM
11.15am      Q&A followed by tea and coffee
11.45am      Planning for Heritage: the new toolkit, Dave Chetwyn, Urban Vision CIC
12.15pm      Lessons for Neighbourhood Plans: How Green is your Plan?  Dan Stone, Project Manager, Centre for Sustainable Energy
12.45pm      Q&A
1pm             Lunch
1.45pm        From Local Character to Pattern Books and Design Policies, Lisa Jackson, Jackson Planning
2.15pm        Introduction to Workshop: Defining the Essential Criteria for a Design Code, including site visit to Norham Road, Louise Thomas, HTVF
3.30pm        Tea and coffee
4pm            Distinctively Local – Responding to the Government's Building Better, Building Beautiful campaign, Simon Bayliss, Managing Partner, HTA Design
4.30pm        Successful Community-led Policy-making in Historic Settings: Rob Lloyd-Sweet, Historic Places Adviser, Historic England
5pm            Discussion and Close
This event counts as 6 hours of CPD. Join the HTVF now and save money - see for details and for more details of our work. 


Under Pressure: Working with the form and setting of smaller settlements
Tuesday 6th November 2018, Kellogg College, Oxford
 Bookings via:
Tickets from £35-145
With small towns, villages and hamlets seeing greater developer interest, what criteria are being used to identify new sites for housing or other land uses beyond major cities?  What can a settlement’s history tell us about its ideal future? What weight should be given to other place-related factors in decision-making?

Spatial planning is intended to determine what and how much development should be located where; yet a key part of the UK planning system encourages land owners and developers to propose specific sites for new development. Given the pressure on local authority resources, time constraints on determining planning applications, and the need for more housing development, place-making is not always at the top of the list of factors being considered.

This seminar-workshop will examine:
  • The significance of smaller settlements’ historical form, function and setting
  • Whether the HELAA process makes spatial or ‘place’ planning more of a challenge
  • Alternative ways of planning for change that relate to a place’s identity
  • The type of criteria to consider and their relevance
  • A live case study to debate and test factors that matter, and
  • Case studies of how plan-making and neighbourhood planning can draw upon alternative evidence to influence outcomes.
With expert speakers and a hands-on workshop, this seminar will enable delegates to consider whether there are key factors that should be used to plan the future of smaller historic settlements differently. 

This seminar will be of interest to local authority officers and councillors, civic societies, amenity and local community groups, and development planning and design consultants with an interest in urban design and planning. 

Tea and coffee on arrival
Welcome, Louise Thomas, HTVF Director
The historical significance of settlement forms, functions and settings, Dr Geoffrey Tyack, Oxford University
Planning for growth: small settlements today, the HELAA process and the market, Louise Thomas
Q&A followed by tea and coffee
Shaping towns - strategic urban design in the local plan process, Roger Evans, studio REAL
Using an historical evidence base for planning policy and development management, Charles Wagner, Associate, The Built Heritage Consultancy
Introduction to Workshop
Tea and coffee
Workshop feedback
Dorchester on Thames Neighbourhood Plan: a case study, Professor Malcolm Airs, Kellogg College
This event counts as 6 hours of CPD. If you need help to arrange accommodation in Oxford for this event, please let us know at

Next AGM & Minutes from April 2017 AGM

AGM update: please see our News page for the minutes and reports from 31 January 2019 at

Our next AGM has been rescheduled to 1.30pm on 31 January 2019, and will be very kindly hosted by Bircham Dyson Bell LLP, at 50 Broadway London SW1H 0BL.

If you are planning to attend, please book your place by emailing us at
You can download a copy of the 2017 minutes here
We look forward to seeing you then,
The HTVF Team

Save the date!
Understanding Local Distinctiveness: the challenge for new housing in town and country
Thursday 17 January 2019, Nottingham

Following great feedback on our hands-on Understanding Local Distinctiveness seminar-workshop last week in Oxford, we are pleased to announce that we are collaborating with the design and planning team at Nottingham City Council to run a similar event in the city. 

Planned for early in the new year at the newly opened Urban Room (as shown), the seminar will see the City Council's own design guide launched in a bid to improve housing design quality.

Watch this space for booking details from Nottingham City Council...


Cambridge Walking Tour and Seminar 20th November 2018

Managing Contemporary and Historic Design and Development - Cambridge
Tuesday 20th November 2018
Wesley House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BJ

Bookings now open:
 The city of Cambridge is known world-wide for its historic built environment - the architecture and spaces of its university and 31 colleges.  With a global reputation for excellence in higher education and spin-off research companies, the city is experiencing considerable growth and provides fascinating exemplars for how to manage historic environments and embrace challenging new development.

Hosted by Cambridge City Council
This two-part seminar and walking tour is an opportunity to visit developments built in the last 10 years in their urban context, and discuss new proposals which seek to capitalise on the city’s historic and contemporary success.

This event will be useful to local authority officers and councillors with planning and design portfolios, conservation officers, developers, architects, urban designers and planners in private practice, town and parish councillors, and civic society members.  The benefits of attending this seminar are:

·                    A first-hand appreciation of contemporary development within an historic setting

·                    An understanding of how planning guidance and decision-making frameworks are established and used

·                    The opportunity to discuss guidance and its interpretation with key figures in the city

·                    An awareness of the main issues for guiding and promoting good contemporary design
·                    An appreciation of key conservation and urban design principles
·                    Greater confidence in decision-making on design in historic places or conservation area settings.



Tea and coffee on arrival


Welcome, Louise Thomas, HTVF Director


Conservation Principles and Tools, Christian Brady, Principal Conservation and Design Officer, Cambridge City Council


Current Major Design and Heritage Challenges, Christian Brady, Jonathan Hurst and Susan Smith, Conservation and Design Officers, Cambridge City Council


Cambridge’s Conflicting Pressures and the Challenges in Promoting New Development, Jenni Mason, Associate Director, Heritage, Turley


Tea and Coffee


Balancing the Pressure for Growth and Design Quality, Stacey Weiser, Cambridge Past Present and Future


Q&A with panel discussion



 1.45pm            Walking Tour leaving from Wesley House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, led by Christian Brady, Principal Conservation and Design Officer, Cambridge City Council looking at a range of contemporary architectural schemes in Cambridge’s historic urban centre:
  • Wesley House, Wesley College (Cowper Griffiths Architects 2017)
  • West Court, Jesus College (Niall McLaughlin Architects 2017) and internal viewing
  • Grand Arcade shopping centre (Add Architects 2008)
  • University Arms Hotel (John Simpson Architects 2018)
  • Cambridge Fire Station (Glenn Howells Architects 2013)
  • Hilton Hotel, Downing Street
  • Downing Site & Old Press/ Mill Lane Sites
  •  Judge School of Business, Grade II* listed (Matthew Digby Wyatt 1866, John Outram 1995, Stanton Williams 2018) and internal viewing

     Optional visit en route to the station (depending on daylight):
  • Sainsbury Laboratory and café in Cambridge University Botanic Gardens (Stanton Williams 2010) (with extra charge to enter gardens), OR
  • Accordia housing development (Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects and Macreanor Lavington 2003-), and
  • Cambridge’s Station Quarter (masterplan by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners 2004-8).

This event will count as 5 hours of CPD. 

The Role of Volunteers in Planning and Heritage: Tuesday 16th October

The Role of Volunteers in Planning and Heritage:

Issues, Toolkits and Expectations

Tuesday 16th October 2018, Kellogg College, Oxford

 As local authorities see their resources reduced each year, many have developed innovative ways of working with local communities to support the historic environment. The 2012 Localism Act has also brought great changes in how local people interact with the planning system, with groups around the country taking more control over the future of neighbourhoods - new and old. This full day seminar looks at the role that volunteers can play in recording, preserving and initiating heritage-related projects, and how to manage these new ways of working together.

Our speakers will address how far neighbourhood planning has come today, how communities can be supported in developing plans for their areas, ways of tapping into local passions for heritage, and starting new projects from a grass-roots perspective.

The benefits of attending this seminar are:

·         learning how other places are filling resource or skills gaps

·         looking at the potential heritage issues, toolkits and volunteer expectations involved; 

·         a better understanding of the funding available to support communities;

·         developing ideas for successful volunteer projects; and

·         considering how communities can take the lead, using local knowledge and expertise, and setting the agenda for neighbourhood planning or saving historic buildings, structures and places.

This event will be of interest to local authority officers and members, town and parish councils, local civic or amenity groups, as well as design and planning consultants seeking better ways of engaging local communities and groups.


Tea and coffee on arrival
Welcome, Louise Thomas, HTVF Director
Neighbourhood Planning in 2018, Tony Burton, independent community and neighbourhood planner
Supporting communities through the Heritage Lottery Fund, Sara Crofts, Head of Historic Environment, Heritage Lottery Fund
Q&A followed by tea and coffee
Undertaking a Conservation Area Appraisal, Susy Shearer, local historian and community engagement specialist, Windsor Neighbourhood Plan Forum member
Counting our heritage: an example of how local authorities can use volunteers, Richard Tuffrey, High Peak Borough & Staffordshire Moorlands Council
Peckham Coal Line – What community-led visions can do, Colin Sterling, Peckham Coal Line Steering Group
Toolkits to support greater involvement, Louise Thomas, HTVF
Tea and coffee
Workshop on the Role of Volunteers & Discussion
This event will count as 6 hours of CPD. We look forward to seeing you there!
Please note: the AGM has been rescheduled to Tuesday 29th January 2019 - see details further up this page


Understanding Local Distinctiveness seminar: Wednesday 12 September 2018

Understanding Local Distinctiveness: the challenge for new housing in town and country

Wednesday 12th September 2018, Kellogg College, Oxford
Bookings are now open for this event via
As development pressures are now being felt by settlements large and small, urban and rural, do we really understand what makes these places special and distinctive?

It is easy to find places around the UK where the quality and design of new housing creates a sense of placelessness, where the local context has played little part in the layout of new development, or where the visual appearance of new buildings bears little relationship to the area in general. 

Pin-pointing what makes one settlement different to the next is about identifying common characteristics, but also the variations between them due to topography, natural features, boundaries, links to elsewhere, materials and building types, and more. Without this detailed appreciation of context, how can we ensure that future development does not dilute local distinctiveness?   

House builders and developers, in seeking to operate as efficiently as possible have a library of house plans that are tried and tested in cost, buildability and durability terms.   These are used to suit local housing markets and different plots, but how can local character influence the design, layout and appearance of new development?

In this seminar, we will look beyond architectural pastiche and 'stick-on' architecture features to explore what makes one place different to another.  Finding ways to capture this distinctiveness and convey it to others is the key to sustaining a sense of place.

This seminar will examine:

  • Why local distinctiveness matters
  • How developers view local character in drawing up proposals
  • What makes local distinctiveness or the features that identify local character
  • How to inform plans for change and influence new proposals 
  • The mechanisms to capture local character in the design and planning process.


With expert speakers and a hands-on workshop, this seminar will enable delegates to test out toolkits to identify key considerations in local distinctiveness, and develop recommendations on what really matters.  These toolkits will be Oxford City Council's Character Assessment Toolkit and the RTPI's character assessment for neighbourhood plans, and using various areas around central Oxford as testbeds.

This seminar will be of interest to local authority officers and councillors, civic societies, amenity and local community groups, and development planning and design consultants with an interest in urban design.


Tea and coffee on arrival
Welcome, Louise Thomas, HTVF Director
Why local distinctiveness matters, Ivor Samuels, urban designer, Visiting Professor at Krakow University, and Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Urban Morphology Research Group, Birmingham University
Identifying local character in a rural context to inform new development, Louise Thomas
Q&A followed by tea and coffee
Characterising Neighbourhoods, Richard Guise, Context 4D
Ways of capturing local character in new development, Andrew Raven, Director, Savills Urban Design Studio
Toolkits for defining local distinctiveness & introduction to workshop, Louise Thomas, HTVF
Area site visits for observations
Tea and coffee at Kellogg College
Making Recommendations

This event counts as 6 hours of CPD.  If you need help to arrange accommodation in Oxford for this event, please let us know at: