ChicagoClark, Kate. “The Shift toward Values in UK Heritage Practice.” In Values in Heritage Management: Emerging Approaches and Research Directions, by Erica Avrami, Susan Macdonald, Randall Mason, and David Myers.
Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute, 2019. http://www.getty.edu/publications/occasional-papers-3/part-two/5/.
MLAClark, Kate. “The Shift toward Values in UK Heritage Practice.” Values in Heritage Management: Emerging Approaches and Research Directions, by
Erica Avrami, et al,
The Getty Conservation Institute, 2019. http://www.getty.edu/publications/occasional-papers-3/part-two/5/. Accessed DD Mon. YYYY.
5. The Shift toward Values in UK Heritage Practice
The values-based approach to conservation decision making has become more common in the United Kingdom over the past two decades, often sitting comfortably beside the more traditional fabric-based approach. Driven initially by the Heritage Lottery Fund, whose unique people-based approach to supporting heritage projects was very different from those of other heritage organizations, exploring how both communities and experts value heritage is now built into heritage guidance and practice in museums, built heritage, landscapes, and archaeology. In fact, values-based practice goes well beyond decision making to include debate about the wider economic, social, and environmental benefits of heritage, as well as the value created by heritage organizations. This has had a demonstrable impact on policy and strategy. This paper charts the shift to, and the impacts of, a values-based approach to heritage conservation and its framework of operation over the last twenty years in the UK.
In the years since the Getty Conservation Institute’s Research on the Values of Heritage project (1998–2005) there has been a noticeable change in the extent to which thinking about heritage values has been incorporated into heritage policy and practice within the UK.1 This chapter provides a perspective on that transformation, exploring three kinds of heritage values reflected in three phenomena: first, changing ideas about significance in the protection and management of heritage (so-called intrinsic values, relating to significance); second, growing awareness of the wider economic, social, and environmental benefits of heritage (instrumental values, relating to sustainability); and third, the exploration of how heritage organizations themselves create value (institutional values, related to service).2 It draws on some policy developments, mainly in England between 2000 and the present day, in particular the publication of the English Heritage (now Historic England) Conservation Principles in 2008, which put in place a transparent values-based decision-making process for heritage, and the work of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which has gone beyond formally protected or listed heritage to engage with a wider range of people and types of heritage in the UK.3
Significance: Using Values in Designation and Decision Making
The journey toward thinking more explicitly about values in heritage practice begins with the idea of significance. There is nothing new about the concept of significance in heritage. Every decision to preserve something for the future is based on some perception of value. To take a random example: the tooth of a great white shark was recently excavated at a late Bronze Age midden site at Llanmaes in Wales. It had clearly been transported over a great distance, and its location—deposited in a post hole—implied that it had had special meaning to somebody in the past (Amgueddfa Cymru / National Museum of Wales 2017Citation: Amgueddfa Cymru / National Museum of Wales. 2017. “Llanmaes.” Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales blog. Accessed July 30, 2017. https://museum.wales/portable-antiquities-scheme-in-wales-blog/.).
Equally, every decision to preserve a heritage asset for the future is based on an individual or collective perception of value. When discussing what should be preserved, the influential nineteenth-century pioneer of British conservation, William Morris, answered:
If for the rest, it be asked us to specify what kind or amount of art, style, or other interest in a building, makes it worth protecting, we answer, anything which can be looked on as artistic, picturesque, topical, antique, or substantial: any work, in short, over which educated, artistic people would think it worth while to argue at all. (Morris 1877Citation: Morris, William. 1877. The Manifesto of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Accessed June 11, 2018. https://www.spab.org.uk/about-us/spab-manifesto., n.p.)
The first legislation to protect monuments in the UK was finally enacted in 1882, after nearly a decade of attempts. How things were to be judged important was a matter of concern from the outset. One of the main objections to the bill was that by preserving monuments, this was a proposal to “take the property of owners not for utilitarian purposes, for railways and purposes of that sort, but for purposes of sentiment, and it was difficult to see where they would stop” (Kennet 1972Citation: Kennet, Wayland. 1972. Preservation. London: Maurice Temple Smith., 27). The objections of property owners held sway, and the final form of the 1882 Ancient Monuments Protection Act was very much watered down in terms of powers to interfere with property rights. In relation to values or “sentiment,” the act did not define ancient monuments or their significance, except by implication in that they were of “like character” to those in the schedule or list attached to the act (mainly prehistoric monuments) (UK Parliament 1882Citation: UK Parliament. 1882. Ancient Monuments Protection Act, 1882, 45 & 46 Vict. Ch 73. Accessed June 11, 2018. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1882/73/pdfs/ukpga_18820073_en.pdf., 5). Their significance was explained to Parliament during the debate: “As to the value of which … there was an agreement among all persons interested in the preservation of ancient monuments” (Kennet 1972Citation: Kennet, Wayland. 1972. Preservation. London: Maurice Temple Smith., 29).
As Harold Kalman notes, one of the fundamental elements of European-derived heritage legislative systems is the idea of a list, register, or inventory that recognizes places of merit, and it is possible to trace the evolution of that concept of “merit” through different forms of legislation (2014Citation: Kalman, Harold. 2014. Heritage Planning: Principles and Process. New York: Routledge., 48). For example in the United States, the American Antiquities Act of 1906 extended protection to “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic and scientific interest,” although these were confined to federally owned or controlled land (US Government 1906Citation: US Government. 1906. The Antiquities Act of 1906. 16 USC 431–433. https://www.nps.gov/history/local-law/anti1906.htm., sect 2). In the UK, ancient monuments are currently defined as being of “national importance” under the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act (UK Parliament 1979Citation: UK Parliament. 1979. Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 c. 46. Accessed July 28, 2017. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/46/contents., part 1, sect 1.3; Department for Culture, Media and Sport [London] 2013Citation: Department for Culture, Media and Sport (London). 2013. Scheduled Monuments and Nationally Important but Non-Scheduled Monuments. London: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Accessed July 28, 2017. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/249695/SM_policy_statement_10-2013__2_.pdf.). In the UK, heritage protection was extended to historic buildings following the destruction of World War II. Under the system of “listing,” historic buildings need to be of “special architectural or historic interest” (UK Parliament 1990Citation: UK Parliament. 1990. Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. Accessed August 1, 2018. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1990/9/pdfs/ukpga_19900009_en.pdf., ch. 1.1; Department for Culture, Media and Sport [London] 2010Citation: Department for Culture, Media and Sport (London). 2010. Principles of Selection for Listing Buildings: General Principles Applied by the Secretary of State When Deciding Whether a Building Is of Special Architectural or Historic Interest and Should Be Added to the List of Buildings Compiled under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. London: Department for Culture, Media and Sport.).
As well as informing decisions about what to protect, values also come into formal heritage practice after a site has been protected where there is a process of managing change, for example if an owner wants to alter or demolish a property (fig. 5.1a and fig. 5.1b). It is in this area of decision making that the most overt move toward thinking about heritage values has taken place. Decisions about change to individual heritage assets are usually made at a local level, by planning authorities who need to set the special heritage interest of the site against other values, including wider economic, social, and environmental issues, and of course the ambitions of the owner. This is why making decisions about changes to historic buildings, monuments, and places after they have been designated has always been more complex and involves a wider range of values than choosing places to protect (fig. 5.2).