BEFS Bulletin – COVID Historic Environment Resilience Forum

Get The Latest Built Environment News, Policy Developments, Publications, Consultations And More.


The first meeting of the COVID Historic Environment Resilience Forum (CHERF) will take place on Friday, 12 June. This will be an introduction to the aims of the forum and an opportunity to look at re-opening sites and venues, itself a short-term challenge but with long term consequences. Book your place here.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has published a six-month Action Plan in response to the impact COVID-19 has had on its business and across Scotland’s wider historic environment sector. HES has also published its aims for designations for 2020 onwards. You can see how they delivered their last plan in this report on work undertaken during the Designations Three Year Plan 2016-19.

The latest in a suite of legislative rights for communities looking to buy land, the new Right to Buy Land to Further Sustainable Development, came into force on the 26th April 2020. This new legislation gives communities, or nominated third parties, compulsory purchase powers over land in certain circumstances. You can see a webinar Community Land Scotland hosted with Dave Thomson of the Scottish Government Community Land Team, which provides an overview of the legislation, here. The Scottish Land Commission also has a useful blog on the subject.

Scotland’s Chief Planner has announced that the draft National Planning Framework 4 has been postponed until Autumn 2021.

Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland have launched their survey Joint Planning System Customer Survey 2020. The findings will help SNH and HES to ensure their services which support the planning system are fit-for-purpose and meet the needs of stakeholders. There are also some questions about the Key Agencies, including on how well they have adapted to providing their services since the Covid-19 lockdown. Submit your response no later than 17th June 2020.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) have launched their Digital Attitudes and Skills for Heritage (DASH) survey, which is a free resource that allows heritage organisations to capture a summary of key digital skills and attitudes of their staff and volunteers, as well as reflect on what they do well and where there are opportunities for improvement. Deadline to sign up is 26 June and surveys need to be completed by 10 July. As part of the digital skills initiative, NLHF are also running a series of online events on digital topics, including online safety, accessibility and online learning. Details of the first webinar can be found on their digital skills homepage along with other free resources being developed

We have updated our COVID-19 Funding Advice page with recent developments

Finally, check out the range of online events coming up this month below.


The Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee has launched a call for views on the impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s culture and tourism sectorsThere is currently no deadline for responding.

The role of evaluation and research in arts, cultural and heritage organisations 
Open until Sunday 14 June.

Scottish public authorities sharing data: consultation
Extended closing date 15 Jun 2020.

Scottish Natural Heritage & Historic Environment Scotland: Joint Planning System Customer Survey 2020
Submit your response no later than 17th June 2020.

Impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sectors – call for evidence
Extended closing date Friday 19 June 2020. 

Energy Efficiency of Existing Homes Inquiry
You can submit evidence until Monday 22 June 2020.

Coronavirus and Scotland Inquiry
You can submit evidence until Tuesday 23 June 2020.

Shortage occupation list: call for evidence
This consultation closes at 11:45pm on 24 June 2020.

Digital Attitudes and Skills for Heritage (DASH) survey
Deadline to sign up is 26 June.

Just Transition Commission – call for evidence
Extended closing date 30 June 2020. 

Consultation on proposed changes to the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012
This consultation closes at 11:45pm on 14 July 2020.

Consultation Responses

Developing Scotland’s circular economy – proposals for legislation: analysis of responses


HES Action Plan 2020-21 (HES 29/05/20)

Coronavirus (COVID-19): planning procedures – Chief Planner letter May 2020 (SG 29/05/20)

Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme: progress report 2020 (SG 29/05/20)

Coronavirus (COVID-19): European Structural and Investment Funds (SG 29/05/20)

COVID19: concise support directory for Scotland’s towns, improvement districts and communities (STP 29/05/20)

Safe return and restart -Expanded Guideline to Underpin Construction: Scotland’s Safe Operating Guidance (CICVForum 28/05/20)

Faster, further, fairer: Putting people at the heart of tackling the climate and nature emergency (IPPR 27/05/20)

Designations 2020 Onwards (HES 26/05/20)

A Vision for High Street Regeneration Report (STP 25/05/20)

Retrofitting to decarbonise UK existing housing stock – RICS net zero policy position paper (RICS 19/05/20)

Scottish Government News Releases

Planning’s practical help with the COVID-19 crisis, our recovery – and beyond (SG 01/06/20)
The coronavirus pandemic has turned life upside down for us all and we thank colleagues and partners for their support at this time. We’re continuing our work to create a resilient, digitally driven planning system – in parallel to looking to the future.

Leading the way with digital pathfinders (SG 01/06/20)
To support the development of the digital strategy for Planning and help address the urgent requirement for digital ways of working, the Scottish Government has commissioned three Pathfinder explorations.

News Releases

Historic England Announces Covid-19 Emergency Grants to Help Recovery of Heritage Sector (HE 29/05/20)
Historic England has announced £1.8 million in grants for 70 projects to help tackle the impact of Coronavirus on the heritage sector. The grants range from social distancing guidance for archaeologists during digs, to supporting voluntary organisations and craft workers.

Environmental charities challenge politicians to meet 5 tests for a ‘green recovery’ (SEL 29/05/020)
Leading Scottish environmental charities have today jointly published five tests for politicians to meet when implementing a ‘green recovery’ from COVID-19.

New dates agreed for COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference (DBEIS 28/05/20)
The COP26 UN climate conference will now take place between 1 and 12 November 2021 in Glasgow.

Museums Galleries Scotland provides emergency funding to over 30 sites (MGS 27/05/20)
Museums Galleries Scotland has confirmed the award of emergency funding to more than thirty cultural institutions across Scotland. The development body has also published a report examining the impacts of Covid-19 on the sector.

Recovery Plan (EC 27/05/20)
The European Commission has put forward its proposal for a major coronavirus recovery plan. It plans to create a new recovery instrument, Next Generation EU, to ensure the recovery is “sustainable, even, inclusive and fair” for all Member States. An adjusted Work Programme for 2020 has also been published.

Scottish route map good for construction but housing market fears remain (SCN 26/05/20)
RICS head of UK government relations and city strategy Hew Edgar urges the Scottish Government to raise more awareness of the six-phase return plan for construction and issue clearer guidance with regard to the housing market.

New Homes Quality Board – interim board launched (HFS 26/05/20)
Natalie Elphicke MP has been announced as the interim chair of the interim New Homes Quality Board, a new independent body that will have responsibility for the quality of new build homes and consumer redress.

New innovative technology launched to help care for Scotland’s traditional buildings (HES 25/05/20)
Innovative new technology which could transform how Scotland’s historic buildings are managed, maintained and repaired has been launched.

Retrofitting to decarbonise UK existing housing stock (RICS 19/05/20)
A new RICS paper calls on Government to make a step-change in policies for decarbonising existing UK housing stock, as people spend more time at home due to the Coronavirus lockdown.

Opinion & Comment

Planning for the long-term public interest (SLC 01/06/20)

England’s sites stayed open during lockdown and hundreds of construction workers died (The Developer 27/05/20)

Britain’s Historic Castles Face “Armageddon” as Coronavirus Torpedoes Tourist Season (VF 21/05/20)

Other Parliamentary Activity

The Scottish Parliament will continue to sit throughout the summer recess because of Covid-19.  Holyrood is expected to hold a mix of hybrid and virtual sessions in July to allow MSPs to continue to scrutinise the Government’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.


For the latest information about BEFS Members’ events see our events calendar.

Case study: Installing wireless services in an old home
Date & time: 04 June 2020; 14:00 – 14:45
Online platform details: Crowdcast
Brian Sayer, SPAB member and owner of a 16th century thatched cottage, joins us to take members through a case study of introducing wireless services into his historic home during repair works. Register to hear about Brian’s experience and join the discussion on use of these new technologies in a conservation context.

Beside the Sea: Exploring Seaside Vernaculars, Online Lecture
Date & time: 05 June 2020; 14:30
Online platform details: Crowdcast
Step into summer with architectural historian and seaside specialist Dr Kathryn Ferry on this virtual trip to the coast, to share her love of some of the smallest structures that give the seaside its distinctive sense of place. Join Kathryn’s excursion to find out more about promenade buildings including beach huts, shelters and seafood stalls.

Archaeological Research in Progress Conference 2020
Date & time: Saturday 6th June, 10:00am-3pm (videos and articles available from 10am)
Online platform details: Archaeology Scotland Private Facebook Event
Archaeological Research in Progress 2020, an online version of the annual conference which presents new research findings and best practice in archaeology covering all periods from across Scotland and beyond. It is organised in alternate years by Archaeology Scotland and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, with support from Historic Environment Scotland. We will be posting links to video submissions and articles (hosted on the Dig It! website) in our private event group via Facebook. Q&A with the speakers will take place on Twitter and Facebook. Tickets can be reserved on Eventbrite.

Designing for a Changing Climate: Climate, Health & Place
Date & time: Tue, 9 June 2020; 10:50 – 12:30.
Online event.
Architecture and Design Scotland invites you to explore how to plan places to make a step change in responding to the climate crisis and meeting the national carbon reduction targets. Chaired by Ben Twist, Director of Creative Carbon Scotland, this online event will take a creative look at how we can use design and collaborative placemaking to shape places that are climate ready, healthier, happier and support low carbon lifestyles.

Fortnight Fringe | Post-Pandemic Cities
Date & time: Tue, 9 June 2020, 17:30 – 18:30.
Online event.
The cononavirus pandemic changes everything we think about cities. Or does it? Will we be diving straight back into the urban crowd post-lockdown, as if nothing has changed? Will we want to flee the city altogether? Are we discovering new cities we hadn’t seen or experienced before? Or will we be carefully redesigning what we have? A discussion about urban architecture, its history and future in the light of the virus with Suzanne Ewing (Professor of Architectural Criticism, University of Edinburgh), Christoph Lindner (Professor of Urban Studies, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London), and Richard J Williams (Professor of Contemporary Visual Cultures, University of Edinburgh).

Policy and Persuasion: Heritage Impact Assessment 
Date & time: 11 June 2020; 14:00
Online platform details: Crowdcast
This presentation from SPAB member and heritage consultant, Jhilmil Kishore, will explore key aspects of preparing heritage impact assessments and how to approach them as a successful persuasion tool.

Brochs: the amazing drystone towers of Iron-Age Scotland, Online Lecture
Date & time: 12 June 2020; 14:00 – 15:00
Online platform details: Crowdcast
The Iron-Age societies in Scotland managed to build towers in drystone masonry at an incredible scale and complexity. The brochs are scattered primarily across the NW Atlantic edge of Scotland, providing a variety of sheltered spaces within their volume that are worthy to be looked at in detail, together with some of the features that made them stand. Restored cases like the inspiring remains of Dun Telve show such achievements, but others like Gurness indicate the perils of misinterpreting the complex successive phases that often occurred in these monuments.

Planning Skills – The Value of Early Engagement in land use planning decisions with the Scottish Land Commission
Date & time: Wed, Jun 17, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM.
The Planning Skills programme are joined by Kathie Pollard from the Scottish Land Commission and Nick Wright from Nick Wright Planning to look at their recent research on the value of early public engagement. This is a chance to hear about one a series of papers by Scottish Land Commission on Land, Housing & Development. The intention was to explore exactly what developers, property agents, landowners and planners in the public and private sectors believe the benefits of early engagement are and the implications for land use decision-making more widely.

Sir Patrick Geddes Commemorative Lecture – Shaping the new normal with a wellbeing economy: The role for place and planning
Date & time: 18 June 2020 at 04:00 PM – 05:30 PM.
With momentum growing for us all to look at a new normal, many desire an economy that serves people, planet and equity. An end to growth in and of itself and a recognition that our economy is just one way to achieve the ultimate ends we seek: good lives on a healthy planet. Where does Place and the Planning Profession make its contribution? Katherine Trebeck takes on this theme explaining what is different about a Wellbeing Economy to our system, its links into Scotland’s National Outcomes and the role of Place and Planning moving forward.

Lessons learned from repairing historic properties
Date & time: 18 June 2020; 14:00
Online platform details: Crowdcast
SPAB member Martin Telling takes members through the joys and tribulations of owning and repairing two Grade II* listed properties, and through his current repair project to a village inn that has turned out to be one of the last unrecorded medieval buildings in Gloucestershire.

Introduction to technical drawing
Date & time: 25 June 2020; 14:00
Online platform details: Crowdcast
Introduction to Technical Drawing: Front, Side, Section and Plan Elevations and 3D Drawing – led by SPAB member Frank de Caires from On-Change. This interactive session will explore how to measure and create a layout and drawing of an object (and the same principles can be used for drawing a house, building or furniture). This can be useful when planning any building works, construction or designing objects. We will try out methods during the session together.

How grateful one is … John Betjeman & SPAB
Date & time: 26 June 2020; 14:00
Online platform details: Crowdcast
John Betjeman described himself as a “poet and a hack”. He was the nation’s teddy-bear and a devotee of unfashionable causes. Grottos, Victorian railway stations, the Metroland and churches were amongst the threatened icons of English culture that Betjeman sought to save. Betjeman was a life-long supporter of the SPAB. He helped with monumentally important campaigns when he was in his early-twenties, becoming a life-member of the Society aged just 25. He sat on the SPAB Committee from 1952 until his death in 1984. In this lecture, Rachel Morley will take a look back over Betjeman’s involvement with SPAB, highlighting his most influential conservation campaigning work and considering his legacy.

Understanding Wallpaper
Date & time: 07 July 2020; 13:00
Online platform details: Crowdcast
Join the SPAB and the William Morris Gallery for this online afternoon seminar focusing on historic wallpapers, coinciding with the gallery’s exhibition The Yellow Wallpaper – a series of portraits by American artist Kehinde Wiley, which frame contemporary London women in settings inspired by iconic Morris floral designs. Combining a concise history of wallpaper and examination of historic examples, their curation and conservation, with a curator’s introduction to the WMG’s current exhibition, this event will appeal both to general interest and professional audiences seeking to explore technical and social aspects of wallpaper as decoration.


Online CPD: The SPAB Approach in Action: Townscape Heritage
Date & time: 09 June 2020; 12:30 – 13:30
Online platform details: Crowdcast
Jonathan will do a quick run through of the background to Townscape Heritage schemes; their intended outcomes; and their key stages. The focus will then be on the delivery stage and the role of the Townscape Heritage Officer in ensuring that repair and reinstatement works are implemented in accordance with best practice, using appropriate traditional materials, by competent conservation contractors. Community engagement programmes accompany capital works schemes and their contribution towards building an appreciation of old buildings and an understanding of appropriate repair and maintenance of them will be outlined.