Historic Environment - Local Management (HELM) is a training scheme introduced by English Heritage to enable councils to reach their targets for processing applications while managing their local historic environment effectively.
The aim of the £500,000 programme is to provide better information and training on conservation issues to all those who deal with planning applications.
Local authorities have consistently called for additional training and resources in conservation issues in recent years.
More than 33,000 applications for listed building consent are received every year in England, but only 7,000 of these receive advice from English Heritage. The rest are dealt with entirely by councils.
English Heritage head of planning and regeneration Duncan McCallum, who is responsible for HELM, said: "Very few people who make decisions on the historic environment have a background or skills in the area."
The project's objective is to ensure that the historic environment is key to all aspects of local government, from urban regeneration and countryside initiatives to streetscape improvements and housing development.
HELM provides online guidance via www.helm.org.uk. The website allows best practice to be shared, offers a multimedia training package and carries details of regional training days. An historic environment champion is due to be appointed and trained in each local authority.
HELM has received financial support from the ODPM, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and DEFRA.