John H Winstone BSc BArch (Bath) RIBA IHBC - Historic building conservation consultant since 1977 - Court Farm, Wookey, Wells, BA5 1LE. Tel: 01749-671055

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Historic Building Practice, started 1977.

Registered architect no.038379A, qualified 1972, John is married with one daughter. He and his wife, formerly an editor and Victorian Society caseworker, own and manage a grade II* former bishop’s manor house on a large Scheduled site. The repair of the house, with building campaigns from 1230 to 1500 and later, is formidable.

This practice has for 30 years principally worked on historic buildings. Great store is set by analysis of problems and in achieving the most appropriate solution to maintaining and repairing historic fabric.

Few owners or trustees manage to obtain the best advice for historic buildings. Of the thousands of applications made each year a small number are satisfactory and even fewer are worthy of being termed good conservation architecture. The majority of listed building applications are actually damaging and yet these are accepted by owners and local planning authorities as fit for purpose. This goes for the humblest cottage as for the greatest of the English cathedrals. Other than instances where grant is offered and the attendant controls enforced, the majority of applications deserve refusal. Such has been and continues to be the atmosphere and regulatory context in which historic building architecture is practised in England.

The government’s proposed Heritage Protection Scheme seems likely to involve all sorts of pitfalls and to further compromise the historic estate as controls are simplified. The introduction of accreditation has done very little to improve matters and has created new shortcomings. Small wonder owners are confused at what passes for adequate professional advice. Needless to say, unauthorised works on protected, historic buildings continue to take place.

Like all matters of import conservation architecture involves ethical judgements and fortunately these are now well rehearsed, but the underlying philosophy has to be understood. Commissioned work from English Heritage, casework and honorary posts have provided extensive this practitioner with considerable experience of assessing needs and proposals for historic buildings, making for a fast and accurate ‘eye’ on historic fabric.