Hampton Court Rescue Campaign

 Government White Paper 2007 

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'The historic environment matters to all of us. It tells us about who we are and where we have come from. It gives identity to our villages, towns and cities. It has shaped the distinctive character of our countryside.'

These words form part of a foreword in a new White Paper, presented to Parliament by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in March 2007, called 'Heritage Protection for the 21st Century'. The HCRC welcomes the contribution that this White Paper makes to the protection of our heritage and historic environment.

The Dept. of Culture, Media and Sport, and in particular the Secretary of State, Tessa Jowell MP was informed about the Station redevelopment issue early on in our campaign. However, we were asked to appreciate that ours was only one of many other important national sites at risk or under threat from the bulldozer. The Department's response to the HCRC has been referral back to our local authority, through whom final planning decisions would be decided. The HCRC emphasized from the outset, that the decision whether to allow the go-ahead of the radical development of the area opposite Hampton Court Palace, was of national importance and should not merely be settled at local level. It is hoped that the White Paper may enable the Government to provide clearer guidelines that will 'overarch' local planning protocols.

Now at least the White Paper has offered some hope to campaign groups such as the HCRC who, all round the country are fighting their own battles. English Heritage, the National Trust, and SAVE have been vocal in their support for the White Paper but are mindful of the need for interim protection while the bill becomes law.

World Heritage sites in particular are recognised and given much coverage within the White Paper, para 1.3.52

World Heritage Sites are internationally recognised as having outstanding universal value. The reforms outlined in the White Paper will, for the first time, provide a clear framework for the way in which WHS's operate alongside other elements of the heritage protection system. This Review has also provided the opportunity to consider whether any additional protections are required. Our view is that, while in general WHS's are adequately protected, there is a case for some small changes that will clarify and, in some cases strengthen, current protections

Through the Culture Committee, the HCRC has approached UNESCO to establish whether Hampton Court Palace would benefit from the protection of World Heritage Site status and if this would offer greater safeguards than the present designation as an Ancient Scheduled Monument.