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Conservation Management Plans   Hestercombe   Parksandgardens Img 8754

The Hestercombe Archive of Conservation Management Plans

One of the many vital Conservation Management Plans in the archive collection at Hestercombe

We are pleased to announce that following discussions with the Gardens Trust and leading landscape architect, historian and consultant John Phibbs, Hestercombe Gardens Trust in Somerset has now accumulated and archived over 700 vitally important Conservation Management Plans (CMPs).

CMPs are comprehensive documents required by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (HLF) to support applications for grants for historic designed landscapes, among other types of property.

Often running to three volumes, they place the landscape in its historical context, review its present condition and make plans for its restoration and future maintenance. They combine in one report the wisdom of landscape architects, archaeologists, ecologists and other specialists.

They are expensive to produce and potentially of considerable value as source material for research by those involved in the field. Since the Fund was established over twenty years ago thousands of CMPs have been written. But where are they now?

Once they have served the purpose for which they were prepared, all too often they are tucked (or even thrown) away and forgotten. The only central collection of these documents was held by the HLF itself, and in 2018 it decided to destroy it, on the grounds of storage costs.

In 2012, as the result of an initiative by John Phibbs, leading landscape architect, historian and consultant, the Garden History Society (now the Gardens Trust) started an online register of the details of as many CMPs as possible. This was intended as a database and did not include copies of the CMPs themselves, although it does where possible indicate where a CMP may be located.

Hestercombe, which had been involved from the outset in the discussions with the Gardens Trust and John Phibbs, in 2015 began an Archive of CMPs as part of its Centre of Landscape Studies. Since then it has been accumulating these and comparable documents, such as Parkland Plans prepared in connection with Countryside Stewardship schemes through Natural England. The Archive contains both hard and electronic copies. It also contains related documents, correspondence, specialist reports and a few accredited dissertations.

It is intended that Hestercombe’s CMP Archive should in time be digitised and made accessible in a fully searchable form through the Parks & Gardens UK website (which Hestercombe Gardens Trust acquired in 2016).

Can you contribute Conservation Management Plans?

The CMP archive continues to grow, and Hestercombe welcomes additions to its collection. Hard copies of CMPs can be sent to: CMP Archive, Archives Office, Hestercombe Gardens, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton, Somerset, TA2 8LG. Electronic copies and enquiries should be addressed to Ben Whitworth.