IfA fights for retention of historic environment services
IfA has written to senior figures in Leicestershire County Council expressing concerns about proposed severe cuts to its Historic and Natural Environment Team. The Institute emphasised that
- sufficient historic environment information and expertise must be retained to meet the requirements of PPS5
- developer-funding for investigation can only be secured if planning authorities are suitably advised
- typically a development control archaeologist will lever in £1m of such funding annually
David Parsons, Leader of the Council has now told IfA
“The County Council intends to maintain the specialist advice provided by the Historic and Natural Environment Team and the core data sets upon which that advice relies. There is a statutory obligation on both the County and District Councils to maintain the Historic Environment Record and that is currently the subject of discussions with our District Council partners. As part of the provision for the future, we will be looking for more consistent support from all the District Councils which should be able to recover any increased costs through planning fees”.
While the size and strength of the surviving service remains a cause for concern, the recognition of HER responsibilities is very welcome. Leicestershire is not alone in proposing that districts increase planning fees to pay the costs of managing the historic environment through the planning process. This represents a welcome trend of compensating for rather than merely accepting cuts.