EH director says Bill would ‘streamline decision-making process’

English Heritage is to be given new powers to list endangered buildings and spaces, under proposals in a new Heritage Bill.

The draft Heritage Protection Bill proposes devolving the responsibility for designating properties and land from the Department for Culture Media and Sport to English Heritage.

Peter Beecham, director of heritage protection at English Heritage, said: “Every year we get around 2,500 applications for listing coming in. Ninety-nine per cent of those will be dealt with by us anyway, with the odd 1% that isn’t, but they all have to be signed off by the DCMS, which is time-consuming and unnecessary. This will streamline the decision-making process.”

The Bill, released today by culture secretary Andy Burnham, is the first review of heritage legislation for over thirty years.

It also proposes a simplification of the listing, scheduling and registering system into a single ‘heritage register’ and allows more transparent pre-planning discussions on whether or not something is listable.

Under the terms of the Bill, the public will have a greater input into what areas are listed but Beecham dismissed fears this might lead to nimbyism.

He said: “The aim is to get the nimbyish tendencies out of the way early. The Bill allows for transparent pre-planning discussions, so developers and private landowners will be aware if anything onsite is listable. Now, anyone can walk past a site, see something, request for it to be listed and we’d have to look into it. The Bill will make that process happen earlier. It will take pressure off developers.”

The draft Bill will be scrutinised by MPs before it passes through Parliament. If the Bill is passed during next year’s session, it could be made law by 2010.