Last edited 27 Nov 2020

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Institute of Historic Building Conservation Institute / association Website

Local Authority Conservation Staffing Resources in England 2020

Local Authority Conservation Staffing Resources in England 2020 290.png

In October 2020, The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) published the results of its 2020 research into specialist conservation provision in Local Authorities (LAs) in England, revealing a 48.7% fall since 2009 and 6% currently with no access to advice. This research will inform the Briefing Note on the England’s Planning White Paper from the new ‘Conservation Places and People’ All-Party Parliamentary Group (CPP APPG) on 4 November.

IHBC Chair David McDonald said: “This survey demonstrates just how much local authority conservation services in England have been reduced over the last decade. Access to specialist advice decreasing by almost 50% since 2009 is a statistic that speaks for itself. If we add to that the loss of senior staff and the consequent wealth of knowledge and experience that is no longer available the overall picture is even worse. Of similar concern are those authorities that do not have access to any conservation advice. Not only are they failing in providing an adequate service, but also there must be an increased risk of Ombudsman complaints or Judicial Reviews.”

Fiona Newton, IHBC’s lead on this work since 2006 said: “Conservation advice is the critical frontline for protecting the historic environment and once lost it can never be recovered. With 6% of Local Authorities now having no access to conservation advice and many others having just part time access to advice this lack of advice exposes the nation’s heritage to the real risk of harm.”

IHBC Director Seán O’Reilly said: “The loss of 48.7% of conservation provision across England since 2009 can only have had a devastating effect on local authorities and some may be no longer even able to carry out even their statutory conservation duties. The reduced levels of conservation staffing in most Local Authorities mean that Listed Building owners and developers are often no longer able to get detailed proactive and practical support and advice from the Local Authority to help them to maintain and protect the heritage for which they are responsible.”

The significant findings of the research are:

These conclusions form just a part of IHBC’s ongoing examination of conservation staffing in the UK. From 2006 IHBC has produced figures with outside funding support; regularly for England and one-off examinations of Wales and Scotland.

The data collected during the 2020 lockdown and funded exclusively by IHBC was compared with Local Authority capacity from 2006, 2009 and 2018. A consistent methodology has been used since 2006.

Download the report.

This article was originally published on the IHBC NewsBlog on 30 October 2020.

--Institute of Historic Building Conservation

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