Listed building applications up as heritage staff numbers fall, report says

The number of listed building consent applications has risen against a trend of falling numbers of dedicated heritage experts at local planning authorities, research has revealed.

Heritage: listed building applications on the rise
Heritage: listed building applications on the rise

A report from heritage watchdog Historic England found that listed building consent applications made up 7.3 per cent of all planning applications submitted in 2014/15.

This was up from 6.8 per cent in the previous 12 months, and from 5.7 per cent in 2007/8.

The study, Heritage Counts, found that numbers of heritage applications had grown for three years in a row to reach 92 per cent of 2002/3 levels.

The number of listed building consent applications decided fell, however – by more than a tenth from 2007/8 to just 30,005 in 2014/15.

The report said that dedicated conservation employee numbers were down by more than a third between 2006 and 2015, according to the report. Archaeology staff numbers fell by almost a quarter over the same time period.

The report also revealed that a poll of listed building owners found that a third rated their experience of going through the planning process as poor or very poor.

One in five of those who did not proceed with a listed building consent application blamed the complexities of the planning process.

Historic England chairman Sir Laurie Magnus said: "There remains more that can be done to improve the efficiency of the listed building consent system and to support private owners, particularly at a time of continuing decline in local authority heritage staff."

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