Heritage minister announces fresh role for agency after public consultation backs reform plan
Heritage minister Andrew McIntosh this week launched a two-stage programme of reforms to streamline the listed building system.

McIntosh confirmed that the reforms, proposed in a consultation paper published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport last July, after positive public response to the document.

Starting next April, conservation body English Heritage will take over the administration of the listing system from the DCMS.

EH will be responsible for giving building owners an information pack, which is to include the reasons for listing a site.

The reforms will integrate the protection of historic buildings, parks and gardens, archaeological sites and World Heritage sites, each of which is presently governed by a different system. This will be combined in a "super register", but not before 2006, as primary legislation is required.

McIntosh said the government move was a tidying-up operation. He said: "New legislation is needed to repeal a huge amount of legislation that has appeared over the past 50 years, from the early town and planning acts to monument legislation that derived from the Ministry of Defence."

He added that the government aimed to "breathe new life into an old regime".

This will encourage local authorities to tackle heritage more seriously

Andrew McIntosh

Detailed proposals for the reforms have been published by the DCMS, in a 78-page report entitled Review of Heritage Protection: The Way Forward.

The proposals reflect those published in last year's consultation paper, which drew overwhelming support from more than 500 individuals and organisations.

Nine in 10 respondents agreed that English Heritage ought to assume responsibility for maintaining the list of historic buildings.

The transfer of responsibility will come with the proviso that owners of listed buildings will have a statutory right of appeal on listing, a safeguard that was supported by 87% of respondents.

Another innovation will be to include public consultation in the process of listing to make the process more transparent.