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The aim of the heritage protection system in England is to identify and protect sites of historical, architectural or archaeological significance. Since 2000, the Government, Historic England (formerly English Heritage) and the wider sector have been working continuously to improve the efficiency of the system. The heritage protection system in England designates legally binding categories of protected heritage: Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments, Conservation Areas and Protected Wreck Sites.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for the listing of buildings and the scheduling of ancient monuments. The following are also designated, but without legal implications: Registered Historic Parks and Gardens, and Historic Battlefields.
All categories are listed in the National Heritage List for England, which is maintained and updated by Historic England.
In 2012, the Department for Communities and Local Government published theNational Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which sets out Government planning policies and contains a specific section on the built historic environment. A central aim of the NPPF is the promotion of economic, social and environmental sustainable development within the planning system. In England, management decisions affecting designated heritage are made within the planning system.
As well as state level funding, grant aid is available from public and private organisations for conservation, awareness-raising and educational projects. Funding organisations include (but are not limited to): the Heritage Lottery Fund, The National Trust, the Architectural Heritage Fund and Historic England.
The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) is the central UK Government department responsible for policy on arts, media, sport and the historic environment in England. It provides state level funding for heritage and is responsible for the identification, conservation and enhancement of the historic built environment. DCMS is responsible for ensuring a list of nationally designated heritage assets (including over 390,000 listed buildings and scheduled monuments). Furthermore, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is responsible for policy and legislation on housing, planning, communities and local government. It relates to heritage as it makes legislation and policy on spatial planning.
Local authorities have discretionary powers to offer heritage grants in their local area, but offers are now relatively rare. Many authorities maintain local lists of undesignated heritage sites and buildings. They are responsible for determining planning applications and most listed building consents in their area. Local planning authorities are also responsible for making management decisions about most designated heritage through use of the planning system.
Historic England (formerly English Heritage) is a Non-departmental Public Body sponsored by DCMS and is the Government’s statutory adviser on the historic environment. Historic England’s responsibilities are set out in the National Heritage Act (1983, amended 2002). Historic England is responsible for recommending sites to be designated to DCMS and maintaining the National Heritage List for England on behalf of DCMS. The organisation works with key Government departments to provide advice on heritage matters and how these will be affected by policy and legislation. Historic England also produces advice notes for the public and heritage sector on wider heritage matters.
In April 2015 a new charity was formed, retaining the name English Heritage Trust which manages the National Heritage Collection of over 400 properties and historic sites owned by the state.
The Heritage Lottery Fund is also a Non-departmental public body which distributes National Lottery proceeds allocated to heritage for the UK as a whole. The organisation is the largest dedicated funder of heritage in the UK.
Other Government sponsored organisations are responsible for advising Government and the sector on other areas relevant to heritage: Natural England is responsible for landscape issues and VisitEngland is responsible for tourism.
List of main national legislation (links)
- Acts of Parliament
- UK Legislation
- National Planning Policy Framework
- British Standards Institute
- English Heritage Guide to Heritage Protection – also main English Heritage website
- Ancient Monuments and Archaeological areas Act 1979
- Equality Act 2010
- Specific legislation to be found on UK Legislation website:
- Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 (Part I)
- The Protection of Wrecks Act 1973
- Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979
- National Heritage Act 1983 (amended 2001)
- Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990
- Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Regulations 1990
- Planning and Compensation Act 1991
- National Lottery Act 1993
- Treasure Act 1996
- National Heritage Act 1997
- Dealing with Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003
- Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013
List of international conventions:
- Granada Convention of 1985 (UK ratified November 1987)
- Valletta Convention of 1992 (UK ratified September 2000)
- Florence Convention of 2000 (UK ratified November 2006)