What are Conservation Management Plans?
Conservation Management Plans are valuable tools for developing informed management strategies for historic designed landscapes.
Over the past twenty five years the value of CMPs, and comparable documents under other names such as Parkland Plans, Historic Landscape Surveys etc., as documents of record and research in relation to historic designed landscapes has become increasingly well recognised.
Originally produced for a variety of reasons (particularly in relation to grant or planning applications), they provide a comprehensive review of the history and development of a site, its current status and a management plan to secure it for the future.
CMPs are however also vulnerable documents. Because they are produced for a specific purpose, once that task has been accomplished the CMP is often stored in unsuitable conditions, misplaced or even thrown away, and the body of knowledge contained within it, accumulated at considerable expense, is lost. CMPs are accordingly themselves in need of conservation.
In the autumn of 2015, and before it had taken over the management of Parks & Gardens UK, Hestercombe Gardens Trust began to assemble an Archive of Conservation Management Plans, developing the work begun by the Garden History Society (GHS) and its successor The Gardens Trust (TGT). In 2012 GHS began to compile a database of CMPs which were known to exist. By 2014 when funding ran out this contained details, albeit often incomplete, of about 1500 CMPs. It did not include any copies of the CMPs themselves: this had never been the intention in relation to this project.
The Hestercombe CMP Archive, developed in consultation with GHS and TGT, contains by contrast actual copies of CMPs and similar documents, either hard or digital.
Access to CMPs
For the time being, while individual properties’ entries on Parks & Gardens UK will be edited to make reference to relevant CMPs contained in the Archive, the documents themselves are only available for inspection (by appointment) at Hestercombe Gardens Trust. Some have been supplied subject to restrictions as to access.
Applications to view CMPs, can be done through the search facility. Offers to donate to the Hestercombe CMP Archive and any other enquiries, should be addressed in the first instance to the Archive Manager, Ben Whitworth.
Scope of the project
While we had initially been particularly concerned to conserve hard copies, much of the material we have been offered has been in digital format, as the cost of producing hard copies and the bulk of the finished product has progressively reduced their availability. The Hestercombe Archive has been compiled from donations and loans of CMPs from the consultants from whom they had been commissioned. Analysis of the GHS/TGT database suggests that the majority of CMPs were produced by less than forty consultants, firms or individuals, and contact has been made with all of them, and generally met with a positive and often generous response.
Because the Archive is based on physical copies of CMPs in our possession its catalogue (a summary of which, arranged by county, is available by clicking the link on this page) is free from the missing information which restricted the practical value of the GHS/TGT database. It currently contains 700 CMPs and similar documents, as well as several hundred other documents relating to individual properties. It continues to grow as fresh opportunities to expand the collection present themselves. We welcome offers of further donations to the Archive. Hestercombe Gardens Trust is in the process of applying for formal accreditation of all its Archives, including the CMP Archive, through the National Archives.
Further Information on Conservation Management Plans
- Heritage Lottery Fund, Conservation plan guidance, October 2012
- Watkins, John and Wright, Tom, ed, The Management & Maintenance of Historic Parks, Gardens & Landscapes. The English Heritage Handbook, July 2007 (Francis Lincoln Ltd)
- The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), A Guide to Producing Parks and Green Space Management Plans, April 2004
- Natural England, NE63 - Preparing a Heritage Management Plan, July 2008
- The Garden History Society, Planning and Conservation Advice Notes (PCAN): PCAN 13: Briefs for Historic Landscape Assessments and PCAN 14: Management Plans
We are grateful to all those who have contributed to the list so far - landscape architects, other organisations, County Gardens Trust volunteers, individual gardens and local authorities.
Please send CMP references to Ben Whitworth.