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National conservation commendation for graduate

Silvia Rossi received industry praise for postgraduate dissertation

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) graduate has received national praise for the quality of her postgraduate research project.

Architect Silvia Rossi, who recently completed the MSc Building Conservation and Adaptation course, has been awarded a commendation by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) for her dissertation on the impact of new housing developments on historic areas.

The judge applauded her “comprehensive grasp of the UK planning process” as her major findings included strong evidence the Government drive to build new houses, coupled with public sector resourcing cuts, is placing the historic environment at risk.

I am very grateful to my tutors for their invaluable guidance, to my family for continuing support and to the IHBC for recognising the value of my work.

The 45-year-old, who originates from Italy but now lives in Lancaster, said: “I feel very honoured to be awarded a commendation for my work and excited by the opportunity to attend the IHBC Annual School. I am very grateful to my tutors for their invaluable guidance, to my family for continuing support and to the IHBC for recognising the value of my work.”

Silvia, who works at Blackett-Ord Conservation in Cumbria, added: “My study investigated the planning dilemma of balancing the needs of heritage with those of housing development in practice, through the work and experience of conservation officers in the context of public financial constraints.

“It was a complex and challenging topic in many ways and one that expanded my understanding of the varied and interlinked issues surrounding the management of change in an historic environment increasingly under threat. More research is needed and I hope that more students will consider exploring further aspects of this topic.”

The IHBC Gus Astley Award recognises outstanding taught-coursework, at either undergraduate or postgraduate course level, regarding one or more aspects of historic environment conservation.


UCLan graduate Silvia Rossi

This is great news and I’m delighted with this thoroughly deserved commendation for Silvia. Her research into the topic area was exceptional.

Course leader Chris O’Flaherty, Silvia’s tutor at UCLan, said: “This is great news and I’m delighted with this thoroughly deserved commendation for Silvia. Her research into the topic area was exceptional and the findings of her study, although in many ways disappointing as they confirmed the damage to conservation services wrought by years of cuts, provide valuable insight into how new housing proposals in conservation areas are currently being assessed at planning stage.

“I’d also like to thank the many respondents to Silvia’s survey and her interviewees. Without their willingness to engage primary research of this nature proves impossible.”

This year’s competition judge was David Trench CBE. He added: “It has been an honour and a pleasure to judge the 2016 IHBC Gus Astley Student Award. The award is a tremendous way of promoting best practice, improving standards, and raising the profile of conservation studies. The standard of submissions was exceptional, and I have learned an enormous amount about developments across the historic environment.”

Rachel Atkinson | 10 February 2017