Protecting England's built heritage

PUBLISHED: 17:23 14 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:42 20 February 2013

Protecting England's built heritage

Protecting England's built heritage

New thinking needed to avert crisis in heritage, says CLA

Protecting Englands built heritage

New thinking needed to avert crisis in heritage, says CLA

The CLA has today launched a new vision for protecting Englands built heritage. Averting Crisis in Heritage: A CLA Report on Reforming a Crumbling System.

The Association, whose members manage more than a quarter of heritage in England and Wales, launched its report with both criticism of the current dysfunctional system, and of official attempts at reform.

CLAs Oxfordshire chairman Tony Carter says, Local authorities do not have the skilled conservation staff that the existing heritage system demands, but the Government and English Heritage seem to be in denial about the extent of the problem.

Built heritage is not like paintings in the National Gallery. It is under constant attack, mainly from the weather and, if it is not looked after, quickly decays. Looking after it is very expensive. This means that its long-term survival depends on it being used and appreciated, and, in most cases, generating income.

The CLAs recommendations set out to increase, rather than reduce, heritage protection. They aim to create a heritage system which works with the resources available, and improving heritage policy to make desirable change to buildings and other constructions easier and undesirable change harder.

The Government comes under fire because of a proposed Heritage Bill which the CLA says was too complex and will never happen and because of the Department for Culture, Media and Sports thinking that heritage is mostly paid for by the state. The CLA says our built heritage is funded almost entirely by those who use and own it, with the state taking far more in tax from heritage than the small amount it spends on it.

The CLA also criticises English Heritages new 2011 National Heritage Protection Plan, saying it diverts resources and attention from the real problems by focusing on researching and designating new areas of heritage.

Mr Carter adds, The CLA has analysed the real problems, such as the difficulty in getting consent for sympathetic changes to examples of built heritage, and come up with solutions so that heritage can be valued, used and relevant to the future.

Our recommendations are not vague aspirations, but a recipe for well-managed change. They are easily achievable and realistic. Almost all involve no substantive new spending by the Government, or even involve much effort from it because they are for the heritage sector to implement.

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