A select committee of MPs has criticised the government for its “unimaginative” use of historic building in urban regeneration schemes.
The committee, which scrutinises the ODPM, accepts that regenerating the historic environment can help to create vibrant areas and boost local economies.
But its report castigates central government over the division of heritage responsibilities between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the ODPM, and between CABE and English Heritage. It says that this has led to a lack of co-ordination.
In particular the MPs highlighted the confusion over the reform of listed building protection proposed by Culture department and the reform of the planning system by the ODPM.
The MPs also partly blame local authority conservation officers for failing to use historic buildings to their full potential. They say that these officials are often not up to the job.
The report says: “The training of conservation officers needs to be broader so that they have an understanding of development issues affecting historic buildings.”
The MPs expressed disappointment that so little had been done to improve matters since this shortcoming was first highlighted in 1999.
They also backed the National Centre for Sustainable Communities being set up by the ODPM, and urged the Heritage Lottery Fund to be more imaginative when awarding grants.