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Historic Buildings

Volume 614: debated on Thursday 8 September 2016

I am disappointed that there was no hug offer straightaway. Historic buildings provide an important tangible connection to our past and bring alive our heritage in real and exciting ways. Grant support is provided by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for historic buildings through Historic England, the church and cathedrals repair fund and the architectural heritage fund, among others. In addition, funding is available from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

If the Minister would like a hug, I am very willing to give her a hug. I also welcome the Front-Bench team to their places. Kedleston hall is a grade I listed building, and Kedleston Voice, an action group in my constituency, has campaigned against the granting of planning permission on land that used to belong to the estate, only for the planning inspector to overturn the council’s decision. The group believes that is damaging to the environment of the hall. Will the Minister put measures in place so that no other grade I listed building is affected by housing too close to an historic setting?

I have been made aware of that particular case in my hon. Friend’s constituency. Across the House I think we all face similar frustrating outcomes in planning matters in our own constituencies when the local authority has made one decision and the planning inspector another. Ultimately, it is an issue for her to take up with colleagues at the Department for Communities and Local Government. However, there is protection of the historic environment through statutory designation and planning policy. When determining planning cases, local planning authorities must have regard to the national planning policy framework, including its policies on conservation enhancement of the historic environment. We shall continue to stress the importance of that aspect of consideration.

13. Even those of us who are very interested in protecting our listed buildings and heritage get really rather angry when the heritage sector seems to stop all development, including development that could actually improve heritage sites. Will the Minister look into that, and also look at the spread of money being given by the Heritage Lottery Fund to see whether parts of the country are getting less than their fair share? (906198)

We work closely across all Departments on heritage matters. I am very proud to be heritage Minister, because it is an incredibly exciting part of what we can deliver in this country. I have regular conversations with the Heritage Lottery Fund. There has been an incredible distribution of its funds across the entire country, but there is of course always room for improvement. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to discuss that further with me, I am very happy to do so.

Must farm near Whittlesea and Flag Fen bronze age centre near Peterborough are among the finest bronze age settlements in western Europe. Peterborough City Council is the lead agency for developing a Heritage Lottery Fund bid for £3 million to develop a bespoke bronze age heritage centre. May I warmly invite my hon. Friend to visit the site and, more pertinently, to support that unique project?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question, as it enables me to thank the Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty’s Treasury, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bexleyheath and Crayford (David Evennett), for his excellent maternity cover in my absence. He visited the site that my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) alluded to. There was an excellent Westminster Hall debate on this matter. I will of course be pleased to visit if my diary allows.