New report sheds more light on West Midlands geography

In the public sector, many of our policies, strategies and services follow administrative boundaries such as regions, local authorities, police force areas, primary care trusts or even wards.

But out there in the real world, people don’t live their lives as neatly as that. Many people live in one place and work, learn or shop in others. Businesses too have customers and suppliers from many different places.

Whilst every person, and every business is different, understanding the patterns in these kinds of links between places is important.

For example, when analysing the local labour market it is no good just looking at the people who live locally if many local workers come from elsewhere.

Understanding “functional geographies” has always been important but the issue’s profile has been raised in recent times as government has sought to devolve more responsibility for economic development to sub-regional and local areas.

Over the next year all upper tier and unitary local authorities will need to produce Local Economic Assessments. Government guidance says that these will need to “identify the economic linkages within the area assessed and between it and the wider economy.”

In preparation for this, the Observatory has just published a report looking at some of the key sub-regional links between places in the West Midlands.

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The importance of historic farm buildings

Three farm buildings

Thanks to Amanda Smith from English Heritage and member of the Environment Group for providing this guest post.

Historic farm buildings make a fundamental contribution to the landscape character and local distinctiveness of the region, and are an important part of our cultural heritage. They also represent a significant asset in terms of their capacity to adapt to accommodate new uses.

Traditional farm buildings, however, are under great pressure for change due to the restructuring of the agricultural industry and the high demand for their adaptive re-use, especially for housing. Only a small proportion of the historic farm building stock is subject to listing and statutory protection, and national studies have demonstrated that these designated assets have already undergone significant change.

Until recently there was a lack of an evidence base on the character and condition of the whole stock of historic farm buildings (not just designated assets) on which to inform the sensitive management of change and the effective targeting of conservation resources.

English Heritage is leading a collaborative project that will develop an evidence base for historic farmsteads across the West Midlands region.

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