Heritage bill hits buffers

The government is unlikely to find room for a heritage bill in the next Queen's speech, the head of its historic environment advisory agency has admitted.

English Heritage chairwoman Baroness Andrews told Planning that she is "realistic" about the prospects for forthcoming legislation. "I realise that the government has a lot to do," she acknowledged.

However, she hopes that whichever party forms the government after the next general election will see "the general merits of having the bill, partic ularly after all the work of the past five years".

The government surprisingly dropped plans for a heritage protection bill in last year's Queen's speech. Critics including the Institute of Historic Building Conservation claimed that the bill's absence undermines the logic behind the draft PPS15, which was released in the summer (Planning, 18 September, p17).

Andrews responded that English Heritage is currently discussing changes to the statement to make it as "careful and clear as possible". But she maintained that the present draft "takes us a long way forward".

She added: "It supports constructive conservation and emphasises sustainable development while maintaining the same level of protection as offered by planning policy guidance." She also argued that the heritage sector is in robust health and praised the work of the National Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund in particular.

- See Interview, page 13.

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