Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

Memorandum submitted by The Heritage Alliance (ERR 24)

About The Heritage Alliance

1. The Heritage Alliance is the largest coalition of heritage interests in England. Together its members own, manage and care for the vast majority of England’s historic environment. Established in 2002 as Heritage Link, the Alliance aims to promote the central role of the non-Government movement in the heritage sector

2. The Heritage Alliance represents over 90 Members - major national and regional non-Government organisations, from larger bodies such as the National Trust, to many smaller organisations such as the Association of Building Preservation Trusts – which are in turn supported by over five million members, thousands of local groups and over 450,000 volunteers

3. Alliance Members range from specialist advisers, practitioners and managers, volunteers and owners, to national funding bodies and organisations leading regeneration and access projects. Their specialist knowledge and expertise across a huge range of issues – including planning, regeneration and place-making - is a highly valuable national resource, much of which is contributed on a voluntary basis for public benefit

4. This submission has been prepared following consultation with Alliance Members through the Spatial Planning Advocacy Group

Summary

5. Overall, The Heritage Alliance welcomes the measures

relating to the historic environment contained within the

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill as a recognition of the

fact that heritage assets are an important driver of economic

growth. The Alliance feels these measures will streamline heritage protection processes thus making it easier for historic assets to continue to ‘earn their keep’ and take on viable uses in the 21st century, without diluting heritage protection.

6. However, a crucial caveat to our support is that these reforms can only work as efficiently as Government intends if underpinned by adequate levels of conservation skills, resources and expertise in Local Planning Authorities. The Alliance and its Members have long campaigned for sufficient resources at Local Planning Authority level as the key to successful implementation of these and other reforms; the worrying cut-backs in the local authority conservation staff responsible for managing our valuable heritage – down nearly a quarter in just over five years – represents a major challenge facing implementation of these and other planning reforms.

7. Following consultation with members of our Spatial Planning Advocacy Group, The Alliance has identified several specific concerns (please see below).

Comments on Clause 50 and Schedule 16: heritage planning regulation

8. The Heritage Alliance’s comments relate to the sections of the Bill affecting the historic environment, specifically the reforms brought in by Clause 50 and Schedule 16. There are four key changes as follows:

· The merging of conservation area consent for demolition into planning permission

· The power to define the limit of listing

· Allowing certificates of immunity from listing to be applied for at any time

· Giving statutory backing to heritage partnership agreements

The merging of conservation area consent in England into planning permission (paragraph 5 of Schedule 16)

9. Instead of having a separate system of conservation area consent, this proposal means applications to demolish certain buildings in a conservation area would be considered by the local planning authority as part of the application for planning permission.

10. Overall the Alliance welcomes this measure. We believe merging conservation area consent into planning permission will streamline the process without diluting heritage protection. We particularly welcome the incorporation into the Bill of the continued criminal penalty for contravention.

The power to define the limit of listing (paragraphs 6 and 7 of Schedule 16)

11. The amendments in the Bill will allow future new list entries and list amendments to declare that structures or buildings attached to or within the curtilage of the principal listed building are not protected. It will also allow for a part or feature of the principal listed building to be declared definitively as not of special interest. It will not apply retrospectively, so existing list entries will have to be amended.

12. The Alliance cautiously welcomes this proposal; there are several areas of concern which must be monitored closely (see below) but where sufficient resources and skills are available to determine the special interest in listed heritage, this proposal should afford managers, owners and other interested parties more certainty over whether proposed works will require listed building consent .

The Alliance’s concerns:

13. The Alliance believes this proposal may on occasion impact negatively on the settings of listed buildings. For example, a listed building with a garden wall which is clearly not of listable quality may under the new proposal have its garden wall demolished without permission and replaced without permission as long as it falls within the limits of the General Development Order. The new wall could well be something that is not appropriate for the setting of the listed building.

14. The Alliance is also concerned that sometimes the relatively ordinary structure or building attached to or within the c u rtilage o f the principal listed building - such as the garden wall in this example or a modern extension - could develop importance and signif ic ance in the future. It would be concerning to see potentially important historic features such as this lost due to lack of foresight.

15. Defining what is and what is not of "special architectural or historic interest" is a complex process , which now requires an assessment of significance. When there is such a backlog of long-standing entries, this is a huge challenge. We believe that the time and place for considering the relative values of elements of the listing is when a proposal for change is made in an application for planning permission or listed building consent .

Allowing certificates of immunity from listing to be applied for at any time (paragraph 5 of Schedule 16)

16. Currently a certificate of immunity from listing, which lasts for five years, can only be sought if a planning application has been made relating to the building. The change in the Bill will allow certificates of immunity from listing to be applied for at any time.

17. The Alliance welcomes this proposal, believing it would provide clarity over the status of a building at the earliest stage in planning for a project. However, this should be accompanied by powers of interim protection whilst appropriate evaluation of the heritage asset takes place.

Giving statutory backing to heritage partnership agreements (paragraph 9 of Schedule 16)

18. This new concept will provide a local planning authority and an owner with a means of agreeing various matters concerning the management of a listed building. Their most important function will be in agreeing what works of alteration are to be given listed building consent. They cannot cover works of demolition.

19. The Heritage Alliance welcomes this proposal. We are pleased to see Heritage Partnership Agreements (HPAs) will have substantial statutory backing, as they should encourage a proper level of expert input throughout the management process. However, concerns remain over the capacity of Local Planning Authorities to evaluate and operationalise HPAs, given the substantial cutbacks many conservation teams have faced.

June 2012

Prepared 4th July 2012