LONDON, UK.- Yesterday (1 April 2005) the public saw the first important changes to the way in which historic buildings are listed. These include the transfer of the administration of the listing system from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to English Heritage.
Applications for listing a building should now be sent direct to English Heritage, who will notify owners and local authorities. They will also begin to introduce clearer information for owners of listed buildings. English Heritage will continue to inspect properties and formulate advice for the Secretary of State.
These changes are the first stage of a wide ranging reform of the system for protecting and managing England’s historic environment which the government intends to implement over the next few years. They will simplify the listing process and deliver greater openness and accountability.
Listing gives statutory protection to historic buildings against unauthorised alteration or demolition. For over half a century, it has proved an effective mechanism for protecting and managing change to a vast range of buildings and structures that are powerful expressions of our long history.
The main changes are:
Instead of applying to DCMS for listing of a building, applicants will in future apply directly to English Heritage. English Heritage will make an assessment of the building against set criteria and a recommendation to list, de-list or amend the grade will be made to the Secretary of State at DCMS.
English Heritage will notify owners if an application to list their building is made by another party. At present, owners are not necessarily informed that an application for listing their property has been made by another party.
English Heritage will begin consulting owners and local authorities on applications to list buildings. At present there is no mechanism to allow the property owner or the local planning authority (LPA) to make representations on a proposal to add a building to the list, to alter its grade or even to de-list it. The government believes that owners should be given the chance to have a say in the future of their property, as should LPA’s, who have statutory responsibilities in relation to the historic buildings in their area.
English Heritage will begin to introduce clearer information for owners of listed buildings. Owners and managers of historic buildings need good and precise information about what the listing of their property means. Information packs for owners, which will give more detailed guidance about the implications of listing and sources of expert advice, will be developed over the next year and sent to all owners of newly listed buildings from April 2006.