New HEIF Funded Project! Co-designing an agenda for sustainable heritage conservation

The Heritage Partnerships Team celebrates the start of a new Social Sciences Engagement Fellowship between the School of Geography and the Environment and English Heritage. Over the coming five months, Dr Martin Michette of the Oxford Resilient Buildings and Landscapes Laboratory (OxRBL) will work closely with English Heritage to co-develop and pilot a framework of collaborative research and knowledge exchange activities that will apply and enhance a shared vision for sustainable conservation.  

Caring for a vast historic estate that includes some of the most nationally and internationally significant historic buildings, monuments and landscapes in the country, English Heritage launched its ‘Sustainable Conservation and Asset management Plan (SCAMP)’ in 2019. The principle of this new strategy is to move from ‘reducing the financial value of the long-term maintenance liability/conservation deficit’ to ‘achieving long term sustainable conservation’. 

In Oxford, the OxRBL group has extensive research experience in heritage conservation, with a particular focus on enhancing the resilience of cultural heritage sites through finding ways to work more effectively with people and nature. 

Aiming to develop a shared understanding of priority areas for Sustainable Conservation across English Heritage and Oxford, this Fellowship was conceived and designed in consultation with the Heritage Partnerships Team and the Oxford University Heritage Network. This collaborative approach enabled the development of a mutually beneficial partnership with the following shared objectives: 

  • The identification of synergies between EH research needs and existing Oxford expertise 

  • The development and delivery of four KE workshops (held via Zoom) between EH staff and Oxford researchers to address the theme of vulnerabilityacross different sites 

  • The creation of a roadmap for future collaborative research with an options appraisal for funding (e.g. student internships, bids to research councils and other funding bodies) 

  • The delivery of a CPD and work-based learning workshop for EH staff highlighting new methodologies and approaches 

The Project Board will comprise Prof Heather VilesDr Katrin Wilhelm and Dr Oliver Cox (Oxford), and Rob Woodside (Conservation & Estates Director, English Heritage), Dr Jeremy Ashbee (Head Historic Properties Curator, EH) and Stewart Wright (Head of Survey and Asset Management, EH). 

TORCH Heritage Programme