Friday, November 18, 2005

Traditional farm buildings under threat warns heritage body

Traditional farm buildings, regarded as fundamental to the character of the English countryside, are fast disappearing, according to the latest annual audit of the state of England's historic environment.
That warning has been spelled out by English Heritage (EH) in a new report, Heritage counts, compiled by the conservation body on the back of research carried out by EH, the Countryside Agency and other interested parties.
This research revealed that of more than 30,000 listed working farm buildings in England, some 2,420 (over seven per cent) are in a severe state of disrepair while nearly one in three has already been converted to other uses.
The report pointed out that thousands of barns, wagon sheds, byres, dovecotes, outhouses, stables and oast houses face disuse and dereliction.
The report also highlighted the fact that agricultural buildings now form the biggest category on local authority building at risk registers.
The report also discovered that 57 per cent of listed farms have been subject to a planning application since 1980 and that 80 per cent of the proposals were approved.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Home information packs mandatory June 1st 2007

Home Information Packs, which are being introduced by Government to reform the home buying and selling process, will become mandatory from 1 June 2007.
Currently, one million pounds a day is wasted on failed transactions as buyers often spend hundreds of pounds on valuations, legal advice and searches on transactions that ultimately break down. By providing key information at the beginning of the process, Home Information Packs will prevent waste and significantly cut the number of sales that fall through. The Packs are expected to cost around £600 +VAT for the average home. Most of those costs are currently paid by the buyer.
Housing Minister, Yvette Cooper said,
“Too many sales fall through because of delays and late information, wasting money and causing great stress for buyers and sellers, that’s why we are introducing the Packs. We have been working with all parts of industry on the detail and this timetable will give them time to fully prepare”.
The Government expects that confirmation of an implementation date will act as a trigger to others who are waiting to begin their training as Home Inspectors as well as provide certainty to organisations who are already preparing to offer Home Information Packs to consumers on a voluntary basis.
To date, seven assessment centres have been established and 1700 people from the surveying and property industry and from other professions are undergoing training for the Home Inspector qualification, with hundreds in the pipeline, waiting for the implementation date to be announced. Research shortly to be published by ODPM will confirm the number of home inspectors expected to be required for June 2007 is between 5000 and 7400. The next steps for the programme is to establish a certification scheme which is required to provide quality assurance and manage the Home Condition Report and Home Inspector registers. It is expected this scheme will be operating by the summer of 2006. A ‘dry run’ will follow later in the year designed to provide assurance to the industry and the public in advance of mandatory introduction on 1June 2007.