2008 Yearbook

i n r e v i e w 25 departments that include planning and other regulatory and/or community functions. Where conservation services are located in a regeneration department away from planning, the service tends to be more involved in conservation-led regeneration schemes, although they may still advise planning colleagues. A number of services which had previously moved from planning into leisure or regeneration, appear now to be moving back into planning or other regulatory services. In some cases conservation services been moved away from the regulatory aspect of planning with their policy colleagues into a corporate policy section often under the direct authority of the chief executive. However, embedding them in corporate policy- making removes them from the public face of the council and from the decision-making process, and staff in these services often felt cut-off from the statutory process. In some authorities conservation teams have been distributed around the council. This can sometimes mean disbanding the team and putting individual officers into area development control teams and into planning policy, still within the same department, but no longer functioning as a single unit. But such reorganisation can also lead to conservation officers being moved into different departments or directorates. This analysis showed that in over one third of authorities (106 of 363) conservation services were located in a service, team, section or part of a team which included ‘design’ in its remit. The majority of these used the words ‘conservation and design’ or ‘conservation and urban design’ (or the same words in reverse order). The type of service can vary from those where the conservation officer is also the key person responsible for design matters, to services which have separate urban design staff. It is important to appreciate that this high level of integration of the conservation and design functions is rarely acknowledged outside local government, and though the survey covered England, there is anecdotal evidence that it has resonance across the UK. Conservation services were provided in 15 teams with titles referring to building conservation alone (‘conservation’ or ‘building conservation’), without the addition of ‘design’. Wider historic environment generic titles were not used significantly. Where these were used they included ‘built environment’ (three) and ‘heritage’ (four), ‘historic environment’ (four) and ‘heritage and conservation’ (six). Only three services had archaeology in any part of their title. In 178 authorities, the conservation function was included within one of the planning teams, being relatively evenly split between planning policy and development control functions. This was most often the case in authorities where conservation services were provided by a single officer or where there was no specialist conservation officer employed. The survey results also allowed us to look at the type of work in which conservation services were involved. In developing the project English Heritage agreed to the adoption of the IHBC’s tri-partite classification of the conservation cycle into education & research (or ‘Evaluation’), general management (or ‘Management’) and project development (or ‘Intervention’). The work in almost two thirds (212 authorities) was mainly general historic environment management and directly related to the planning system, including for example, development control work, planning policy and advice to the public. This often also includes advice on new build, design, urban design as well as conservation. Around one third of conservation services (108 authorities) carry out a combination of work that includes not only statutory planning and conservation, but also involves developing conservation-led regeneration schemes, capital projects, and major improvement schemes. This demonstrates the important wider corporate role which many conservation professionals in local authorities have, feeding positively and proactively into other areas of the council’s agenda, such as regeneration, housing and sustainable communities. It also highlights the frequent inter- disciplinary co-operation required for such work. In many cases it is the conservation officer who is the lynch pin for such projects guiding it through and developing partnerships within the council and with the community. None of the authorities interviewed claimed to have a conservation service that is purely education or research- based, and only one authority felt that all their work was project development or management without any input into planning work. There is still a long way to go if we are to understand better just how services secure conservation through our local authorities, but clearly developing such an understanding will underpin the best way to support those services. Fiona Newton, projects@ihbc.org.uk 0 50 100 150 200 250 Education and research Project development and management General historic environment management A combination of 2 or more functions 0 1 212 108 Number of local authorities Function of service Function of local authority conservation services