Councils cut conservation services by half in a decade

Local authority building conservation services have declined by 50% in just over a decade, with 6% of local authorities currently offering no services at all, research has revealed.

The Institute of Historic Building Conservation last month published research into specialist conservation provision in local authorities in England that revealed a 48.7% decline since 2009.

The research will inform the briefing note on England's planning white paper from the new Conservation Places and People All-Party Parliamentary Group on 4 November.

IHBC chair David McDonald said: "This survey demonstrates just how much local authority conservation services in England have been reduced over the last decade. Access to specialist advice decreasing by almost 50% since 2009 is a statistic that speaks for itself. If we add to that the loss of senior staff and the consequent wealth of knowledge and experience that is no longer available the overall picture is even worse. 

"Of similar concern are those authorities that do not have access to any conservation advice. Not only are they failing in providing an adequate service, but also there must be an increased risk of Ombudsman complaints or Judicial Reviews."

Fiona Newton, IHBC's lead on this work since 2006, said: "Conservation advice is the critical frontline for protecting the historic environment and once lost it can never be recovered. With 6% of local authorities now having no access to conservation advice and many others having just part time access to advice this lack of advice exposes the nation's heritage to the real risk of harm."

IHBC director Seán O'Reilly said: "The loss of 48.7% of conservation provision across England since 2009 can only have had a devastating effect on local authorities and some may be no longer even able to carry out even their statutory conservation duties. The reduced levels of conservation staffing in most local authorities mean that Listed Building owners and developers are often no longer able to get detailed proactive and practical support and advice from the local authority to help them to maintain and protect the heritage for which they are responsible."

Download the report here.

This article originally appeared on Construction Manager
Image source: Historic England

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