The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents around 30,000 members in England and Wales, has urged Historic England to recognise the threat to our national heritage from the inadequate resourcing of local authority planning departments.
In its response to the current Tailored Review of Historic England, the CLA highlighted that local authority planning teams in England have seen huge cuts – by as much 55% in 2018, when compared to 2010 – which are having an adverse effect on the more than 150,000 a year planning cases where heritage issues are at stake.
Concerned by this reduction in resources the heritage sector has, over the last five years, developed a series of proposals to increase heritage protection without additional cost, through the work of the Historic Environment Forum.
Tim Breitmeyer, President of the CLA, whose members manage more than a quarter of all heritage sites and buildings in England and Wales, said: “These proposals are realistic and effective, but cannot be implemented without the involvement of Historic England, and over the last two years it has done little to take them forward. In doing so, it is ignoring the reality of cuts to planning departments which has meant fewer conservation officers doing more work for stagnant pay. This has resulted in inconsistent decisions and delays to the planning process where heritage issues are at stake.
“If it does not help to implement these or equivalent proposals, Historic England would be turning its back on its primary statutory duty, namely the protection of our national heritage.”
The CLA’s response also stressed the need for government to fund heritage protection, and heritage sector bodies including the Historic Environment Forum, the Heritage Alliance, the National Amenity Societies, and projects like Heritage 2020, which play a key role in protecting heritage and encouraging public support.