Introducing our aims, objectives and policy for the enhancement of small historic towns and villages.

belton in rutland-000
Belton in Rutland, a typical member comunity

Where we hold our seminars, the host society or council contributes a paper describing their town or vil lage, and some oftheir preoccupations We also publish a selection of other papers written for us from time to time, and we have included a number of cases where members have sought the Association’s help or support; in later editions we will report on the outcome and how new velopments have fitted into the area or affected the local community.

One of our most popular publications in the Newsletter has been “What the Inspector Says”, the results of planning appeals proving very helpful to many members facing similar situations. However, our most ambitious project to date has been to enter the debate about future development, particularly in the shires in which reside most of our members. We publish a series of papers taking the view that the pressure for new develop ment in and around historic towns and villages will be enormous, despite the government’s emphasis on urban renewal. Indeed we have found that the attempt to increase brown field development endangers the integrity of many historic places unless really high quality building can be ensured. We will continue to contribute to the countryside versus city debate through this web site.

The Association receives grant aid from English Heritage. With this grant we are improving our service to our members . Small towns and villages make an important contribution to the historic environment but they are also home to many hundreds of thousands of people whose interests we represent. We welcome new members from among the Parish and Town councils and from other organisations and individuals as Friends of the Association.


Those who live in or visit Britain’s unique heritage of small historic towns and villages value them as an irreplaceable national asset. In each region they have their own special character and setting.

Can we afford to lose this precious inheritance because of unsympathetic, unsuitable and out-of-scale development? Surely every effort must be made to preserve the essential character of these towns and villages for future generations. Their conservation is far more than a local matter. It touches the whole population, as well as visitors from all over the world. Indeed, the attractiveness of Britain’s historic towns and villages is an impor tant economic asset as well as an environmental issue. Our concern is for the buildings, many of them listed, in their setting in the countryside, and for maintaining the harmony of materials, design and scale which form the overall character of each place. There must be care for detail – shop fronts and signs, window-frames and doors as well as street furniture which fit the local scene and add to, rather than detract from its harmony.

Unlike national bodies and regional authorities, which have wider responsibilities, ASHTAV, through the lo cal societies, groups and councils which are our members, possesses a wealth of local knowledge and commit ment. Our members, working together with other like-minded organisations are well placed to care for the vast wealth of architecture, history and community life which surrounds them.

We concentrate on the particular needs and concerns of small historic places. We co-ordinate and encourage mutual support amongst our members, facilitating the exchange of experience and expertise and providing opportunities through seminars and lectures for increasing knowledge of conservation issues and the planning process. We also provide a corporate national voice on matters of concern to our members generally.

ASHTAV’s objectives are:

  • Uniting Amenity Societies and Groups, Parish and Town Councils in small historic towns and villages in a common effort for the preservation, protection and, where appropriate, sensitive adaptation of their features of historic and public interest.
  • Encouraging high standards of architecture and planning.
  • Stimulating the public interest and care for the beauty, character and fabric of small historic towns and vil lages in the context of an understanding of the social and economic changes which affect them.

ASHTAV recognises the many social and economic changes affecting town and village life – the growth of industry and tourism, the migration from large towns and cities to the countryside, the decline of traditional agriculture and demographic change. These changes inevitably alter the pattern of life in rural Britain. They cannot be resisted but they should be introduced with respect for existing patterns and values.

New developments can take place with sensitive consultation and respect for the existing scene and community life. Our aim is to ensure that wherever change is thought to be necessary, those whom it most directly affects are equipped to take a full and effective part in the decisions involved.

ASHTAV receives grants from English Heritage and other bodies, but is otherwise self supporting and relies on the commitment and voluntary effort of its members and Fiends.


Join us to take full advantage of the services offered by ASHTAV and share your skills & experience with other ASHTAV members.

Membership offers:

A regular Newsletter full of information vital to historic places on planning and conservation issues.

Seminars and training events in interesting places.

Helpful advice from the ASHTAV ‘Help Desk’.

The website giving members access to information exchange with each other.

Access to members with experience in similar situations when you have a problem.

Very good value.

Formed in 1988 by Amenity Societies keen to pool their experience and share their expertise, the Associa tion offers members an advisory service, a programme of instructive seminars and a Newsletter covering the latest information about conservation and development. Membership is open to Town and Parish Councils and Amenity Societies in all historic villages and small historic towns. The Association also wel comes individuals as friends and District and County Councils as Associates

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