The RIBA has asked the government to allow it to play a part in the listing of modern buildings
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is preparing a white paper on the future of listing, is in the process of consulting with the industry.

However, it has said it intends to hand over control of the process to English Heritage, which currently advises the department on listings.

RIBA president George Ferguson said that dealing with modern buildings required specialist skills that may lie outside of English Heritage's capabilities.

He said: "The National Trust has some expertise on the subject and we at the RIBA, together with CABE, are well poised to advise and oversee decisions."

Ferguson, speaking at the launch of a DCMS consultation paper, Protecting Our Historic Environment: Making the System Work Better, said the listing of modern buildings was a "very difficult area that we need to give more time to in order to avoid mistakes".

He illustrated his case with Park Hill in Sheffield, which he described as "one of the most extraordinary pieces of listing I have seen".

The Park Hill Estate, built in 1961, houses more than 2000 residents and was controversially awarded grade II*-listed status in 1998.

There is too much overlap, complexity and a lack of openness

Heritage minister Andrew McIntosh on the present listing system

Under the government's proposals, the tripartite system of scheduling, listing and designating conservation areas would be replaced with a single, unified list of historic sites and buildings.

The proposals will open the listing process to public consultation, with landowners and local authorities allowed a voice when a building is under consideration. Landowners would be given a right of appeal against decisions.

Andrew McIntosh, the heritage minister, said that the current listing system needed improvement.

He said: "There is too much overlap between different systems, unnecessary complexity and a lack of openness."

McIntosh called on architects, archaeologists, surveyors and developers to contribute their ideas to the government proposals.

He said: "The aim of this review is to take a root-and-branch look at all our systems of protection."

  • English Heritage has launched the 2003 edition of its Buildings At Risk register.