2008 Yearbook

24 Y e a r b o o k 2 0 0 8 BUILDING · CONSERVATION INSTITUTE · OF · HISTORIC · Local authority conservation services: sketching structures Fiona Newton, IHBC Projects Officer In October 2006 the IHBC and English Heritage project Quantifying Local Planning Authority Conservation Staffing carried out a survey in of all 363 local planning authorities in England. Each was asked for specific contact details for the senior conservation contact in the Authority. They were also asked to quantify the size and type of their conservation service, providing information on job titles and other information on all their conservation staff. This included gathering information on how many permanent and temporary in-house conservation staff were employed by each authority along with an assessment of use of consultants to provide a conservation service or making use of services from other authorities through a service level agreement or similar. The findings are intended to help complement the study sponsored by DCMS and English Heritage, carried out by WS Atkins and focussing on a small number of local planning authorities and their services (2006). These highlighted the importance of the local connections of conservation staff to securing government priorities. While professional and local authority services in archaeology have been reviewed in great depth with the support of English Heritage through ALGAO, and a core body of information is available for that part of the management of the historic environment, local conservation services have received only limited analysis. The survey gave a stand-alone snap shot of conservation staffing in October 2006 and was especially valuable because it is a fully comprehensive survey covering all local planning authorities rather than a sample or incomplete full survey. It is the first national mapping exercise of lead staff responsible for delivering conservation in English local planning authorities. The primary analysis of the information collected has been published elsewhere and the final report for the project can be found on the IHBC web site at www.ihbc.org.uk/ recent_papers/docs/quantifying_lpa_ conservation_staffing.pdf. However a secondary outcome of the research has been the opportunity to analyse the data to obtain information on the functions, titles and location of the local government unit, section or team in which conservation professionals are based. A key finding was that internal reorganisation in local authorities has had a considerable impact on conservation service-provision. In many cases reorganisation has led to a decreased service through redeployment of conservation staff or removing vacant positions from the establishment. In a smaller number of cases the conservation service has been expanded slightly following reorganisation or has become a separate function with its own manager at team-leader level. The majority of conservation services are still located in the planning function of the authority, which can be regarded as their traditional home. But there is a trend towards larger But will it fly? Photo: Alessandro Terni, ©iStockphoto.com