Local Planning Authority capacity

Sustainable approaches to the provision of LPA Conservation and Archaeology Services

Local authorities provide essential front-line advice services within the planning system. Despite the need for greater capacity for conservation and archaeology services, these services have been in decline since 2006 (see research by IHBC in 2016, in collaboration with ALGAO and funded and published by Historic England).

The Heritage2020 Capacity Building working group has worked with Iceni Projects to review and update a list of statutory duties imposed by Government on Local Authorities in relation to the historic environment. The Heritage and Townscape team at Iceni Projects has led the research, combining their experience of consulting on heritage regeneration and conservation projects with experience of working within local authorities to ensure sustained usage of historic buildings.

The outputs include an updated list of responsibilities that brings together duties placed on authorities by legislation for which DCLG is responsible with duties placed on authorities by legislation for which departments other than DCLG have responsibility. These duties were checked against the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (P(LBCA)A) to ensure that the obligations deriving from this Act are included. The resulting list is available below as ‘List of statutory duties cited in 2011’. New research was then carried out into the statutory duties that have been introduced post-March 2011. This was centred around the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, but also included other primary and secondary legislation that hold duties relating to heritage, particularly the Brownfield Land Register, Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations and Hedgerow Regulations. The resulting list of duties is available below as ‘List of statutory duties created after 2011’. Heritage 2020 is grateful to Genevieve Arblaster-Hulley and Nairita Chakraborty of Iceni Projects for undertaking this research.

List of statutory duties cited in 2011 (pdf)

List of statutory duties created after 2011 (pdf)

Of course, services that relate to statutory duties are only one aspect of the role that Conservation Officers and Archaeologists play in ensuring that decisions about the historic environment are well-informed and will both protect important heritage assets and contribute to positive development and sustainable growth.

The Capacity Building group has produced a report to complement the work on the updated list of statutory duties that draws attention to the wide range of responsibilities of Local Authorities as custodians of the historic environment. These responsibilities are grouped into three categories:

  • Local Authority statutory duties as they relate to the historic environment
  • Further Conservation Officer functions
  • Key non-statutory functions of archaeological advice services.

Report on statutory and discretionary duties of Local Planning Authorities relating to the historic environment (pdf).

The list and accompanying report can be used as tools to assess how provision maps to need, to advocate for maintaining the capacity of Local Authorities to provide the identified services (statutory and discretionary), and to support gap identification and provide evidence of the skills and training needs of Conservation Officers and Archaeologists.

Related information is available at the following sources:

ALGAO (Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers) reports on staffing and casework surveys.

ALGAO: key functions of local government archaeological services

CIfA (Chartered Institute for Archaeologists) Standard and guidance for archaeological advice by historic environment services

CIfA and Historic England project ‘21st Century Challenges for Archaeology’

IHBC (Institute of Historic Building Conservation) key skills of conservation specialists and why these are an essential part of planning services.

Historic England information on the role of Local Government in planning for the historic environment.

2011 list of statutory duties placed on local government (MHCLG)

Find out more about the other activities of the Heritage 2020 Capacity Building Group here.