Scotland Policy & Legislation
In Scotland, 2008 closed with the welcome announcement from the Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture, that a draft bill to amend existing heritage legislation would be circulated for consultation in the New Year. The government is also in the process of simplifying and streamlining the public sector; all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities have now signed up to Single Outcome Agreements with central government, setting out what they are seeking to achieve, reflecting local needs. Over the next few months we shall begin to see the level of priority each has afforded historic environment resources.
On the planning front a Joint Working Agreement with Historic Scotland (HS) and the various planning authorities is being drawn up in relation to statutory casework and consultation, and a transfer of some powers from HS to local authorities has begun. A pilot scheme is currently under way in three authorities who have assumed responsibility for planning consultations relating to Category B-listed buildings. If successful this will be extended across the country with Historic Scotland only retaining responsibility for A-listed buildings. This reflects the situation with gardens and designed landscapes where HS is now only responsible for those included in the Inventory, local authorities assuming the role for the Regionally and Locally Significant Sites. The Scottish Historic Environment Policy series, the SHEPs (including no. 3 Gardens & Designed Landscapes) have also been streamlined and incorporated into one single document, the SHEP. Finally, Scottish Planning Policy 23: Planning and the Historic Environment (SPP 23) was published in October replacing National Planning Policy Guidelines, NPPG 18: Planning and the Historic Environment, and NPPG 5: Archaeology and Planning.
In the conservation office, although we welcome the attempts to streamline and simplify the planning process and the general public sector, we do have some concerns that this may lead to a reduction in protection of our historic assets, in particular gardens and designed landscapes, and we await the draft of the new heritage protection proposals with interest.