September has been a busy month and it looks set to get ever more hectic as the year progresses. Lately I have been reading up on the interesting world of architecture to assist with my understanding of the historic environment. How to Read Buildings by Carol Davidson Cragoe is a very useful little book simply written and full of images, which really helps when it comes to the technical elements of construction and design. It’s a little bit like learning a whole new language as there are literally thousands of terms to try and memorise. ‘Quoins’ (Masonry blocks at the corner of a wall to provide strength or decoration) has become a particular favourite and they are easy to spot in most towns and cities. I intend to become more adept at understanding the history of buildings, their style and techniques, over the course of the internship.
As mentioned in last month’s blog the Prescot Planning Guide is now nearing completion and once signed off should provide assistance to local businesses. The guide will include information about what building alterations will need planning permission, guidance on advertisement consent, change of use, environmental health, and a host of other considerations Prescot proprietors need to keep in mind if they wish to alter their premises. It has been enjoyable to get out and search the town centre for examples of good practice, and bad, and witness the standard of work that already exists across the neighbourhood. The guide should help enable Prescot to prosper in a sensitive way which reflects the character of the town centre and respects the historic nature of the conservation area.
The Prescot Planning Guide in progress
Speaking of conservation areas, my appraisal of Cronton is being reviewed by my manager, as is the Cronton Draft Management Plan. Since August I have visited Cronton on a number of occasions to gain a thorough understanding of the locality which has helped shape my assessment. When formally adopted the Cronton Conservation Area Appraisal should aid local planners, residents and councillors if new developments are proposed in or around the area. The Draft Management Plan will operate alongside the appraisal, setting out any issues discovered during the appraisal and detail the Council’s management strategy to deal with them.
My induction at UClan for the MSc in Building Conservation and Adaptation took place last week with formal lectures set to begin tomorrow. It looks like it’s quite a small course with only about ten students on the register. This should make learning easier compared to the masses in my undergraduate days. Course leader Chris O’Flaherty is very knowledgeable and still works in practise. I am yet to meet the other tutors, but by the sounds of it I’m sure we’ll all be in safe hands. Our first outing is already scheduled for this week. On Thursday we set off for the Clitheroe Pinnacle to see how conservationists are preserving a turret from the Houses of Parliament which has stood in the grounds of Clitheroe Castle since the 1930s. I shall be sure to take plenty of pictures.
The Harris Building, UCLan, where the MSc is taught
In other news I have been making connections with industry professionals, keeping an eye on graduate schemes and other opportunities to further my potential post-internship. I am conscious that I do not have much in the way academics in my heritage background, such as Town Planning or Surveying, so I have been eagerly making connections and taking advice from those in the know.
The Prescot Townscape Heritage Initiative is an exceptional scheme and can really open doors to those who may otherwise struggle. The Msc and year of experience with Knowsley Council should put me in very good stead for 2016 and hopefully my long term career fears should settle down in the not too distant future. Besides, with the day job, the masters and some literary projects of my own, something tells me I actually won’t have much time to worry!