Heritage Protection in England
Jonathan Lovie writes:
It would be surprising if heritage protection featured as a major issue in the impending General Election; but the outcome of that event has the potential to have a significant impact on the way in which the historic environment is managed in England for many years to come.
With cuts of up to 20% in funding for the arts being forecast by some commentators, it seems impossible that funding for the heritage sector will not face similar constraints. Such a changed environment will inevitably force us to reconsider what The Garden History Society, in its role as a statutory consultee does, and how it delivers its work. Meeting this challenge will require constructive thinking both on our part, and on the part of partner organisations with broadly similar objectives.
As has been previously reported, the draft Heritage Protection Bill (2008) has been dropped from this Government’s legislative programme. What is not yet clear is the extent to which an incoming Government of any political complexion would seek to implement its provisions. Implementation of at least those sections of the Bill which deal with the streamlining and simplification of the heritage protection system becomes all the more desirable in an economic climate which favours de-regulation in the cause of economic growth, and where there can be a perception that heritage protection can be a brake on investment and development. Precisely this area is already the subject of two Government reviews; one being undertaken for the Department for Business, Industry and Skills and the other by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
In order to bring some clarity to the positions adopted by the different political parties prior to the Election, and to remind them of the importance, not least the economic importance, of the heritage sector, the Heritage Alliance (formerly Heritage Link) will be meeting with the three key shadow heritage and planning spokesmen.