Duncan Wilson will oversee revamped watchdog

Duncan Wilson has been appointed the first chief executive of Historic England, the rebadged agency that is taking over much of English Heritage’s work.

English Heritage chairman Laurie Magnus said Wilson is taking the helm of the new agency, which will go live at the beginning of April, following its current chief executive Simon Thurley’s decision to step down.

Wilson will take up the post on May 5 when Thurley moves to his new role as a senior research fellow at the Institute of Historical Research.

Wilson is currently chief executive of the trust that is overseeing the regeneration of the Alexandra Palace in north London which is being carried out by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.

Prior to taking up his post at Ally Pally four years ago, Wilson managed some of London’s most significant heritage projects including the transformation of both Somerset House and the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich into successful heritage visitor attractions.

Wilson said: “England’s heritage is one of our greatest national assets and as its guardian Historic England must make sure that it is not only passed on to future generations in the bestpossible state but also that we make best use of it and that more and more people share our passion for it.”

Before becoming director of the Somerset House Trust in 1997, Wilson worked as an official at both the department of culture, media and sport and English Heritage.

Historic England is the agency that will take on EH’s advisory functions, including commenting on planning applications and listed buildings.  

The management of the quango’s portfolio of historic properties is being hived off to a separate charity, which will be known as the English Heritage Trust.