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: