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English Heritage Consultation: Good Practice Guide for Local Listing

Date: 8 June 2011

English Heritage
Heritage Protection Reform Team
1 Waterhouse Square
138-142 Holburn
London
EC1N 2ST
locallisting [at] english-heritage.org.uk

Dear Sir,

English Heritage Consultation: Good Practice Guide for Local Listing

The Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO) is the national body representing local government archaeology services at County, District, Metropolitan, Unitary and National Park authority level. These services provide advice to nearly all the District, Unitary and other local government bodies in the country. ALGAO: England co-ordinates the views of its member authorities and presents them to government and to other national organisations. It also acts as an advisor to the Local Government Association (LGA) on archaeological matters. The range of interests of our members embraces all aspects of the historic environment, including archaeology, buildings and the historic landscape. e are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this consultation.

Generally the Association welcomes the Practice Guide and recognises the existing good practice that it embodies. We feel that it would be of benefit to local communities especially in regard to the government’s ‘Big Society’ and ‘Localism’ agenda, and particularly useful for those communities who choose to develop Neighbourhood Plans. Indeed it relates well to place-making issues generally including as a component of wider Local Development Frameworks. However, there are some areas which are relatively obscure and implicit rather than explicit; we think that some re-wording and clarification in certain areas might be of benefit.

In this respect we would recommend that the Guidance be amended to reflect and mention the recent Localism Bill and Neighbourhood Plans, neither of which feature in the document. The opportunity should be taken to reflect the opportunities presented for a requirement for communities to consult the local HER and nominate Local Heritage Assets as part of their necessary analysis of the neighbourhood area.

Beyond this generic point we would support comments made by IHBC and offer more detailed comments:

  1. We have a concern that the requirements recommended for public consultation/involvement, if followed to the full extent suggested in the draft Guidance, are plainly onerous and, if perceived as requirements rather than suggestions or options, particularly in an era of dwindling resources, may well deter local planning authorities from preparing Local Lists. In addition, if it appears that that high intensity of community involvement/consultation suggested in the draft is in some way mandatory it could weaken an LPA's case at an Appeal stage should the process for good reasons not have been followed with full rigour.

  2. In this context it is notable that LPA’s already operate their planning systems within a nationally recognised framework that includes requirements in relation to public consultation and community involvement in the process. The requirements suggested in the Guidance go far beyond anything that would necessarily be expected even for major Development Plan documents. Perhaps the wording could be such that a range of consultation options could be felt appropriate to local circumstances, and that these could in fact, quite legitimately, be based on the appropriate LPA's Local Development Framework related "Statement of Community Involvement" or any other Consultation Strategy document that the LPA may have formally adopted (Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, for example has one that must be adhered to but so too have many other planning authorities).

  3. There are some concerns within the Association regarding lack of reference and seeming understanding of Historic Environment Records (HERs). We believe the Guidance would benefit from the incorporation of an explicit statement that Local Lists should always be incorporated within the local HER as being the only certain way to ensure that proper consideration is given to Locally Listed Assets as an acknowledged material consideration in the planning process. We explore this further below.

On p. 2 there seems to be an assumption that non-designated assets can only be identified by a (new?) local list or during planning decisions (para 1), whereas in fact HERs, which hold evidence of undesignated assets in an LPA’s area, already exist and as stated assets registered on a HER are a material consideration in the decision-making process. There is no statutory requirement on LPAs to create a Local List, but where Local Lists are created their deposition and inclusion in HERs, (which already exist for all LPAs) will ensure that that they will be a material consideration in planning and development concerns. We suggest that where Local Lists are newly created under this guidance they will be very useful in better understanding heritage assets in a particular community and will be a useful adjunct to the existing evidence base in the HER. However, there should be a stronger requirement for them to be deposited in HERs to afford the maximum benefit in all decision-making processes.

The bulleted mention of the HER in the 6th paragraph merely seems to be an unexplained add-on to the foregoing text.

  1. With regards to 1.3 on Local Development Plans and Local Listing we would agree with the principle, but, based on the fact that PPS 5 already considers that all assets merit consideration the wording could perhaps usefully be strengthened, for example, in the second paragraph to read
    "For a local list to be effective as a clear and authoritative statement of the assets in the area considered by the LPA to have particular local significance, it ought to be part of the development plan to ensure that due weight is afforded in planning decisions to the desirability of the assets being conserved ".
    The final sentence within 1.3 (p.5) seems to be even more relevant now than when it was written given that the recent SAVE judgement has resulted in virtually all demolition now being reclassified as Permitted Development and therefore the wording should not need any amendment other than to perhaps strengthen it.

  2. There is a slight concern over the actual selection process which according to the guidance is quite wide ranging, "open ended" and "loose fit". The pragmatic need for a professional overview in compiling the draft list and then in presenting it to the LPA for ratification with the necessary professional endorsement as to its fitness for purpose, has been a bit lost in translation. LPAs already employ Historic Environment Officers as professionals to oversee this process and Members will have a legitimate expectation that they will get the benefit of that specialist advice and that the whole process will have been professionally overviewed before they are asked to take final decision on ratification. This is not by any means to say that everyone's views should not be sought, heard and carefully considered but in the end someone appropriately qualified will have to arbitrate on behalf of the LPA and ultimately decide on the general composition of the draft List and any conservation strategy and/or appropriate supporting planning policies to ensure that there is a good evidence base and a justified consideration of this base in the resulting documents.

We would suggest that the bulleted list of advice for inclusion on selection panels on p.18 should specifically include Historic Environment Advisors rather than the implicit LPA bullet point.

  1. Regarding the finalisation of shortlists, on p.19, para 3.3.6 there is reference to an owners "right of Appeal" which does not sound quite the right note and we would prefer, for example, to see reference to an owners right to "make representations" should they consider that the criteria for Locally Listing their property have been misapplied or that the decision to locally list was based on an incorrect interpretation of the sites true significance.
    We would be happy to contribute to further development of this guidance and we look forward to its full publication.

Yours sincerely,

B Lott,
Secretary, ALGAO Historic Buildings
for ALGAO:England

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