Last edited 02 Dec 2021

Protection of historic statues, plaques, memorials and monuments

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On 17 January 2021 the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced new laws to protect England’s cultural and historic heritage, described as the most significant new protection since the 1967 Civic Amenities Act established Conservation Areas

The new legal protections mean that historic statues should be ‘retained and explained’ for future generations. Individuals who want to remove any historic statue, will require listed building consent or planning permission. This will protect 20,000 statues and monuments throughout England.

If a local authority intends to grant permission for the removal of a statue and Historic England objects, the Communities Secretary will be notified so he can make the final decision about the application in question.

Historic England and the Secretary of State will apply a policy of “retain and explain”, meaning historic statues will only be removed in the most exceptional circumstances.

Robert Jenrick said: “For hundreds of years, public statues and monuments have been erected across the country to celebrate individuals and great moments in British history. They reflected the people’s preferences at the time, not a single, official narrative or doctrine. They are hugely varied, some loved, some reviled, but all part of the weft and weave of our uniquely rich history and built environment. We cannot – and should not – now try to edit or censor our past. That’s why I am changing the law to protect historic monuments and ensure we don’t repeat the errors of previous generations, losing our inheritance of the past without proper care.

Culture Secretary Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP said: “I strongly believe that we should learn from our past – in order to retain and explain our rich history. The decisions we make now will shape the environment inherited by our children and grandchildren. It is our duty to preserve our culture and heritage for future generations and these new laws will help to do so.”

The new rules will also apply to unlisted historic plaques, memorials or monuments which will also require planning permission and Historic England notification.


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