Last edited 27 Nov 2020

Conservation officer

Local planning authorities generally employ, or retain the services of, a conservation officer. Sometimes this role may be combined with that of archaeological officer, although they are very different, albeit related, functions. The role can also be referred to as Historic buildings inspector.

The conservation officer’s role is to ensure the heritage assets of the local authority are preserved, managed, enhanced and promoted.

The involvement of local authority conservation officers in development proposals might include:

Managed intelligently the conservation of heritage assets need not disrupt developments. However, this often requires engagement with the local planning authority’s conservation officer as soon as possible if it is suspected that proposals may affect heritage assets. This will help identify the procedures that must be followed and avoid abortive work.

Other activities undertaken by a local authority conservation officer might include:

The activities of conservation officers are most effective when they are embedded in the local planning authority, rather than being seen as an add-on.

NB. Conservation officers may also be employed by non-departmental public bodies or charitable trusts such as English Nature, the Countryside Agency, English Heritage, Historic England, the National Trust and so on, as well as by central government and by private consultancies.

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