Operational Plan 2018-19


1. Our operational environment

2. Meeting key deliverables

3. Grant in Aid from Welsh Government


1. Our operational environment

This operational plan sets out the main activities that we will engage in during the year to 31 March 2019 in response to our annual remit letter from the Welsh Government.

Over the last three years the Royal Commission has developed into an outward-facing organisation, engaged in a number of nationally and internationally significant research projects that address core contemporary issues relating to the historic environment including the impacts of climate change and the empowerment of people from all backgrounds to participate in the heritage of Wales.

We have developed professional partnerships with key organisations engaged in understanding, protecting, enhancing and creating access to the natural and cultural heritage of Wales, including the RSPB, National Trust, Natural Resources Wales, the Universities of Wales Trinity St David’s, Swansea, Cardiff, Bangor, Chester and Aberystwyth, and a number of local authorities and volunteer groups, as well as the other three national institutions responsible for Welsh cultural heritage – Cadw, Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales and the National Library of Wales.

We have also been successful in securing funding to enhance our core Welsh Government grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Union Inter-Reg Fund, Cadw and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. These projects now account for c. 18 per cent of our income and this has enabled us to take on additional staff to undertake activities that contribute to the achievement of our Royal Warrant remit of historic environment research and record curation.

We thus approach 2018-19 with confidence and energy, ready to deliver on a range of ambitious projects, the principal ones being:

  • CHERISH: our Inter-Reg funded project to study the impacts of climate change on Welsh coastal heritage.
  • Commemorating the Forgotten U-boat War: our HLF funded project to commemorate the First World War at sea around the Welsh coast, a crucial aspect of the conflict.
  • Unloved Heritage: Ceredigion Off-limits?: our HLF funded project to engage young people in recording and understanding aspects of the heritage that they value.
  • Wales Slate World Heritage Site bid: our work in support of delivering a persuasive suite of documents to underpin the World Heritage Site nomination.
  • Digital delivery: our plan to safeguard our digital assets and deliver more and better content online to the widest possible range of users.

Delivering this ambitious agenda is not without its challenges. We have to balance the obligations we have entered into as a result of our funding and partnership agreements, along with the duties imposed by the Royal Warrant and our need to deliver activities that contribute directly to various Welsh Government initiatives, including Taking Wales Forward, Prosperity for All (supported by the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport’s Economic Action Plan), the ‘Light Spring’ Vision for Culture in Wales, and the Visit Wales ‘Year of…’ promotional campaigns. In addition, the Royal Commission carries a significant burden of compliance that has risen substantially in the last three years and now accounts for c. 15 per cent of our overall costs and resources.

For that reason, we welcome recent Welsh Government initiatives to ease the relationship between arms-length bodies, including the proposal for ‘whole of government’ five-year remits and for an end to annualised budgeting.

We are also strongly committed to the Historic Wales Strategic Partnership and to closer collaboration with Cadw, the National Library of Wales and the National Museum Wales in promoting the rich culture of Wales to local and international audiences, delivering an excellent service to the public, and the greater career opportunities for staff from developing one workforce for the sector with much greater flexibility for secondment and work experience with sister institutions.
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2. Meeting key deliverables

1.0   United and Connected
‘Our aim is to build a nation where people take pride in their communities, in the Welsh identity and language, and our place in the world.’ (Prosperity for All, page 19)

The Royal Commission is well placed to contribute substantially to this aim because we hold the national collection of records relating to the Welsh historic environment, including large and comprehensive collections of photographs, which is a key resource for anyone seeking to understand how various aspects of the Welsh identity have evolved since the earliest times.

We also play our part in championing the Welsh language through the List of Historic Place Names of Wales that we manage on behalf of the nation. This is a key resource for ensuring that Welsh place names are not lost and one that is already being used by local authorities as a resource for the naming of new streets and buildings. Most of our externally-funded projects have community engagement built into them as a fundamental principle, and we also play a key role in supporting the work of the People’s Collection Wales.

1.1  Prosperity for All objective: Build resilient communities, culture and language

HERs: We will continue to provide leadership for the management of the historic environment data in Wales through our independent oversight of the Historic Environment Records. We will explore the options for more responsive and efficient delivery of HER-based data compiled to consistent standards that can be used to deliver HERs-based planning services locally.

Historic place names: We will continue to develop and enhance the List of Historic Place Names of Wales. We will work with Cadw and other partners to promote the various ways in which the List can be used, and we will continue to work closely with the stakeholder group and the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies in developing relevant content.

KPI 1: Increase access to the Royal Commission’s collections, services and resources including through outreach activities and local partnerships.

Access: We will continue not only to collect, preserve, catalogue and make available materials relating to the Welsh historic environment of Wales, we will also continue to promote usage and awareness of the National Monuments Record of Wales and provide access to the Royal Commission’s resources through our long-established public service and outreach activities. These include our online services and our public search room, as well as a busy programme of outreach events and activities, including publications, talks, lectures, symposia, guided walks, open days and travelling exhibitions, as well as our stands at the Royal Welsh Show and the National Eisteddfod.
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1.2  Light Springs objective: Increasing participation, inclusion and engagement

KPI 2: Encourage and increase participation in cultural activities from the broadest range of diverse audiences.

KPI 3: Monitor user satisfaction and incorporate user feedback into future initiatives and developments.

Public services: We will continue to monitor user satisfaction and feedback and ensure that this is used to inform the way we plan our projects, products and services. We will undertake a review of all our public engagement activities with the aim of providing assurance to Commissioners and Welsh Government that we are meeting the needs of our users and providing access to cultural opportunities for people from all backgrounds, reflecting the diversity of our nation, encouraging participation in cultural activities by the broadest range of diverse audiences. In this way the Royal Commission will contribute to the aim of Wales becoming a creatively active nation.

Commemorating the Forgotten U-boat War: We will deliver the first phase of the two-year HLF-funded U-boats project as a major piece of community engagement work and as part of a suite of heritage-sector activities to commemorate the First World War. The project will capture local stories of the First World War and explore the impact of the war at sea on the coastal communities of Wales.

We will help local communities to explore this legacy and tell their own story through a series of facilitated events at maritime museums around Wales.

Unloved Heritage: Ceredigion Off-limits?: We will deliver the first phase of the three-year HLF-funded Ceredigion Off-limits? project – part of the nationwide Cadw-led Unloved Heritage? programme – to empower young people to define their own ‘heritage’, define what they value and why, and help them acquire the skills to research and record that heritage and tell compelling stories about it.

Heritage Angels: The Royal Commission will take a leading role in the delivery of the Heritage Angel Awards Wales, with funding from the Andrew Lloyd-Webber Foundation, highlighting the contribution of people of all backgrounds to the heritage of Wales and thereby encouraging others to become involved in conservation projects in Wales.
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1.3  Prosperity for All objective: Promote and protect Wales’ place in the world

The Royal Commission has an important role to play in promoting and protecting Wales’ place in the world, showcasing Wales’ vibrant culture, heritage and language to an international audience and helping to promote our nation worldwide. We do this in a variety of ways, which include our fieldwork and research as well as our public services, with an increasing focus on high quality digital content, services and resources.

Historic Environment Group: In addition to the activities below, we will continue to work with partners in the Historic Environment Group to promote Welsh heritage, contribute to the ’Heritage Counts’ report, which has proved to be a powerful advocacy document by the sector, and continue to participate actively in Welsh heritage-sector forums and strategic boards, including Welsh Historic Places of Worship Forum and its work on Faith Tourism initiatives.

KPI 4: Continue to enhance knowledge and understanding by undertaking survey, investigation and research.

Survey and investigation: The Commission’s team of highly experienced field staff will carry out a busy programme of survey work to record and interpret Wales’s most significant historic buildings, landscapes and ancient monuments through archaeological survey, photography, 3D laser scanning, and aerial photography. Our strategy for survey includes thematic or area-based projects to develop knowledge and understanding of elements of our heritage that are under-represented, of outstanding importance, or at risk from neglect, environmental damage or development. In certain circumstances, we will record buildings of particular significance in response to specific threats, and work in partnership with relevant stakeholders to do this where possible.

Wales Slate World Heritage Site bid: We will continue to play a fundamental role in supporting the Welsh Slate World Heritage Site bid as it approaches its critical final stages with a submission to UNESCO in late summer 2018. Our field staff will continue to work on the core documents for the nomination, working in the field to identify significant assets. We will undertake aerial photographic flights to supply up-to-date images for the nomination documents, and supply historic images from our archives. We will assist in the final design and production of the nomination document using our GIS, mapping, design and 360-degree modelling resources. Staff and Commissioners will comment as ‘critical friends’ on drafts of the nomination document.

Historic Places of Worship: We will work with Cadw and the Architectural History Practice to contribute to a survey of all the Roman Catholic churches in Wales as a means of determining their significance and to enable informed decisions to be made about grant applications, listing and possible closures and disposals. We will scope the pilot phase of a survey of late 19th and 20th-century places of worship in Wales as the pilot project for a pan-Wales survey. We will continue to Chair the Welsh Historic Places of Worship Forum with the aim of helping congregations meet the challenges of looking after the historic places of worship for which they are responsible.

Vernacular buildings: We will continue our long-standing work on medieval vernacular buildings in Wales, working with such partners as the local societies, and supporting informal training for their volunteers. We will also continue to work with the University of Cardiff on pioneering new timber-dating methods based on oxygen isotopes.

KPI 5: Enhance knowledge and understanding through the delivery of projects for which the Royal Commission has successfully attracted external funding.

CHERISH: We will deliver the second year of the five-year CHERISH programme, funded by the EU Inter-reg fund, researching the impacts of climate change on coastal heritage around and beneath the Irish Sea, in partnership with Aberystwyth University, Geological Survey Ireland and The Discovery Programme Ireland. Activities showcasing Wales’ vibrant culture, heritage and language form a fundamental underpinning for this programme of work.

Commemorating the Forgotten U-boat War: During the Welsh Government’s ‘Year of the Sea’ in 2018 and ‘Year of Discovery’ in 2019, we will continue to lead this project, in partnership with Bangor University and the Nautical Archaeology Society. A programme of marine geophysical surveys to capture high-resolution data of 17 wrecks is planned during the summer of 2018. Ecological surveys are to be conducted on a selection of those wrecks, with the help of our partner institutions. Volunteers linked to 16 museum activity partners around the Welsh coast will be undertaking research on the stories associated with the Great War at sea. The outcomes of the research effort which will be made available in a series of exhibitions, events, and online resources, coinciding with the national centenary of the armistice.

KPI 6: Provide high quality digital content, services and resources to reach national and international audiences, and continue work on the platform for delivering the Royal Commission’s digital assets.

Digital content: In order to reach national and international audiences, we will continue to develop high quality digital content, services and resources.

Digital delivery: A major objective for the year is to undertake the development phase of the Royal Commission’s new digital delivery platform as we withdraw from the SWISH partnership with the former Scottish Royal Commission on which we have relied for this function for many years. We will complete the ‘Discovery Phase’ of the project and seek funding for the anticipated costs, perhaps via the ‘Invest to save’ funding stream. The aim is to equip the Royal Commission with a digital delivery platform that will give user-friendly access to the rich resources of the National Monuments Record of Wales and equipping staff with the skills to maintain and enhance the new system.

KPI 7: Support the ‘Year of the Sea’ in 2018 through publication of the bilingual Wales and the Sea book and organisation of the resulting exhibition in partnership with the National Library of Wales, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, and Cadw.

Year of the Sea: We will make a major contribution to Year of the Sea in 2018 with the publication of Wales and the Sea, a 328-page fully illustrated, bilingual book being produced in partnership with the publisher, Y Lolfa, that will be launched at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff in August 2018. We will work with partners in the sector to produce two major exhibitions based on the book, to be hosted by the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea and the National Library of Wales during the summer and travelling round Wales thereafter.

Year of Discovery: We will work closely with Visit Wales, Natural Resources Wales, the National Trust and the Welsh Places of Worship Forum and other sectoral partners to plan a coherent series of activities for the Year of Discovery, including events, website content and exhibitions aimed at encouraging people to explore and discover more of the heritage of Wales.
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2.0   Ambitious and Learning
‘Our aim is to instil in everyone a passion to learn throughout their lives.’ (Prosperity for All, page 15)

Lifelong learning: The Royal Commission will continue to deliver high quality learning experiences, both informally – through our public library and search room manned by our knowledgeable staff, as well as through group visits by school children, students and community groups – and more formally, through offering volunteering or student placement opportunities.

CHERISH: As part of the CHERISH project, we will run engaging workshops, seminars and outreach events to raise awareness on heritage at risk and climate change. The outreach events will be delivered in collaboration with Adult Learning Wales.

2.1  Prosperity for All objective: Support young people to make the most of their potential and build ambition and encourage learning for life

Unloved Heritage: Ceredigion Off-limits?: As mentioned above (we will report on this under KPI 2), our HLF-funded Ceredigion Off-limits? project focuses on developing best practice when working with young people who might not otherwise be engaged with heritage. The project action plan is based on the needs and motivations of the young people, interested partners and stakeholders as identified during consultation, and is structured in a way that will enable young people to drive and define the details and outputs of their project as it develops.

Skills for the Future placement: In 2019, the Royal Commission will take part in the HLF-funded Cultural Ambition: Diversifying the heritage workplace through collaboration, opportunity and skills scheme, offering a three-month paid placement to an 18-24-year-old from a lower socio-economic background.

Strata Florida Trust partnership: The Royal Commission will continue to support the work of the Strata Florida Trust, which will enter a significant new phase thanks to funding from the Prince’s Foundation to mark the 70th birthday of HRH The Prince of Wales, with priority being given to using the restoration of the buildings in the Trust’s ownership as an opportunity to encourage young people to engage in traditional craft and construction work.
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3.0   Prosperous and Secure
‘Our aim is a Welsh economy which delivers individual and national prosperity while spreading opportunity and tackling inequality.’ (Prosperity for All, page 7)

3.1  Prosperity for All objective: Support people and businesses to drive prosperity, tackle regional inequality and fair work

KPI 8: Collaborate with the Historic Wales Strategic Partnership members and other stakeholders in the museums, archives and libraries sector in Wales to make progress on the four areas of collaboration identified by the road map (sector skills strategy, back-office functions, customer service and commercial opportunities).

Historic Wales Strategic Partnership: As a member of the Historic Wales Strategic Partnership and its four work groups, we will work with other organisations, staff and recognised trade unions in the historic environment, museum, archive and library sectors in Wales to address specialist skills requirements within the wider cultural heritage sector and to manage industrial relations.

The Royal Commission’s Secretary will continue to serve as joint chair of the Historic Wales Strategic Partnership (with Gareth Howells, the Prospect union officer). We will complete an audit of sector skills requirements during the year and recommend steps, including apprenticeships and other forms of training, to ensure that those who aspire to work in the sector have the opportunity to develop the relevant skills.

The Secretary will also drive forward the partnership’s other agendas: addressing back-office efficiencies, customer service, commercial opportunities, branding, the harmonisation of salaries and terms and conditions of employment across the sector and the removal of bureaucratic barriers to the free movement of staff from one institution to another.

KPI 9: Continue to carry out the Royal Commission’s corporate functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably, delivering all its legal, financial, governance, reporting and security commitments in a timely manner and in line with best practice as set out by the Welsh Government.

Corporate functions: The Royal Commission’s corporate functions include governance, finance, procurement and payment of suppliers, facilities management, disaster planning, risk register maintenance, health & safety, ICT and Cyber Security, human resources and training activities, equality and diversity monitoring, fundraising and the development of external partnerships, Welsh Language compliance, quarterly reporting to Welsh Government, the annual report, the annual audit, organising Commission meetings and recruiting Commissioners, and much more.

The Royal Commission’s priorities for the year will be General Data Protection Regulation compliance and obtaining Cyber Essentials Plus with IASME accreditation.
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3.2  Prosperity for All objective: Drive sustainable growth and combat climate change

Planning advice: We will continue to support those who work in planning, conservation and environmental policy to contribute to the sustainable management of the historic and natural environments, and in particular those areas for which we hold particular expertise such as marine heritage.

Maritime archaeology: We will contribute to the definition and promotion of maritime archaeology policy in Wales and provide specialist advice in response to applications for marine licences as part of the marine consents regime, ensuring that historic wrecks and drowned paleo-landscapes are better understood and well protected.

Buildings at risk: We will continue our dialogue with Cadw on individual buildings and building types that are most at risk and, where we have the resources, we will undertake recording work (and where the need exceeds our capacity we will scope the work and seek appropriate levels of funding).

CHERISH: In addition to the above, the work that the Royal Commission is doing on CHERISH will make a contribution to our understanding of climate change and its impacts, as will the work undertaken by the Commission on behalf of the Historic Environment Group’s Climate-change sub-group, modelling the potential impacts of sea-level change and flooding on the one hand and rising temperatures on the other.

KPI 10: Develop infrastructure to manage and monitor support for local authority conservation services and marine planning advice and licensing.

Support for local authority conservation services: We will, in our capacity as statutory consultees in the Listed Building Consent process, continue to support local authority conservation officers with advice on Listed Building Consent applications. This year, we will develop new procedures for managing and monitoring this work (as well as the work on marine planning advice and licensing). We will produce guidance on levels of recording for Cadw to use with local authority conservation and planning officers to encourage the use of planning conditions that require applicants for listed building consent to make records of the buildings concerned at an appropriate level of detail; we will work with heritage agencies in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to ensure a consistency of approach across the four home nations.
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4.0   Healthy and Active
‘Our aim is to improve health and wellbeing in Wales, for individuals, families and communities … good health is seen as a natural asset for everyone.’ (Prosperity for All, page 11)

4.1  Prosperity for All objective: Promote good health and well-being for everyone; and build healthier communities and better environments

Mental health: Following the day-long event that the Royal Commission hosted in 2017, at which we introduced mental health professionals to the National Monuments Record of Wales, we will build on these relationships to promote the archive as a source of material to stimulate reminiscence and memory for those living with dementia, in partnership with the People’s Collection Wales.

Guided walks: We will help to promote good health and well-being for everyone by continuing to work with local groups to lead guided walks of areas of Wales with a rich heritage.
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3. Grant in Aid from Welsh Government

The funding to the Royal Commission in 2018-19 to deliver these priorities is as follows:

2018-19 running costs                  £000s

Total                                                   1,531

Capital                                                    15

Depreciation                                       134 (this is a non cash item and is not available for draw down in the course of the year)

Additional funding

Historic Place Names Project           60

People’s Collection Wales              39.4


To download this document as a PDF, click here: RCAHMW Operational Plan 2018-19

Mae’r ddogfen hon hefyd ar gael yn y GymraegThis document is also available in Welsh.

Open Government Licence logo This document is available under the Open Government Licence.


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