Protecting Our Historic Buildings

Article excerpt

Byline: By Neil Robson

Historic buildings are precious assets and it's vital that the law protects them.

This week proposals were released by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for a new system of heritage protection, which will be tested by English Heritage on 15 pilot schemes.

Currently, different aspects of the built environment are accorded different levels of protection and are regulated by different statutory regimes.

For example historic buildings may be "listed," parks and gardens may be "registered" and archaeological sites "scheduled".

This can cause confusion and overlap, for example, when a single site encompasses a listed building and a registered park area.

The proposals suggest that a new system be created whereby there is a single unified list called the "List of Historic Sites and Buildings of England" which will give equal statutory recognition to different components within the historic environment.

The single list will allow separate archaeological and landscape elements within the same site to be treated the same, thereby overcoming any confusing overlap or artificial demarcation. Another important element of the proposals is the establishment of statutory management agreements which will allow buildings to be strategically managed over the medium to long term.

One of the pilot schemes to be implemented by English Heritage will relate to the City Walls at York. The City Walls encompass a number of scheduled monuments and listed buildings, a registered park, a conservation area and an area of archaeological importance.

Under the pilot scheme, English Heritage will work with York City Council to carry out a holistic assessment of all of the components and devise a management plan to address the future care requirements.

The chief executive of English Heritage welcomed the changes. …