SMR folks - and their planning archaeology and conservation officer
bretheren - might be interested to know that "Resourcing of Local Planning
Authorities", a study published yesterday by DTLR, includes a section on
resources for "Planning and the historic environment" (on page 28 of the
report - I copy the relevant section in full at the bottom of this
The DTLR study, I understand, is intended to help inform the 2002 Spending
Review although obviously may be useful in relation to the ongoing debate on
the Planning Green Paper in England. The full document can be accessed via
the following link:
A second report on "Information Communications Technology in Planning" has
also been published, although a brief skim indicates this doesn't extend to
looking at SMRs and historic environment data in the planning process.
However those tempted (foolish enough?) to trawl the 152 pages in greater
detail can access it via the following web-page:
Research and Conservation Officer
Council for British Archaeology
"2.6 Planning and the historic environment:
Conservation has experienced a decline in resources. This has resulted in
concentration on development control and reactive work at the expense of
more proactive and longer-term work. A lack of resources has also resulted
in limited enforcement activity on conservation matters.
"PLANNING FOR HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT: A STUDY OF RESOURCES" - ENGLISH
Many of the resourcing issues that affect planning as a whole also relate to
conservation. The highest priority for resources are reactive and demand-led
services eg development control and grant-aid schemes, rather than
longer-term proactive tasks, particularly enforcement, appraisals,
maintaining information resources and environmental enhancement.
Expenditure by local planning authorities on historic environment
conservation declined in real terms between 1996/7 and 2000/1 by £3.5m net
(8%) and expenditure on staff has declined in this period by £3.1m (10%).
English Heritage grants to local authorities have also declined by 23% as a
result of reduced Government contributions.
In this time there has been an increase in the number of designated
buildings and sites of approximately 1% per year. Almost two thirds of local
authorities have stated that they would like to operate Local Lists for
historic buildings but less than half have been able to compile one.
The determination time of applications with historic conservation issues is
often longer not just because of their greater complexity but because
specialist advice is not sought when they are registered and consequently a
high number are inadequate.
Enforcement work has a low priority which undermines the development control
process. At least a quarter of District-level Councils have no Buildings at
There are insufficient resources to undertake local characterisation work,
indicated by the lack of progress by authorities in preparing Conservation
Area Appraisals, a statutory duty."