This page sets out Historic England’s advice to support local authorities and communities in protecting the special historic buildings and places in their area. It explains the various roles for managing heritage at a local level, and provides simple advice on the issues, including where to look for further information.
Most of the decisions about how the historic environment is managed are made by local authorities in consultation with local communities. An important part of Historic England’s work is to support local authorities – see Local Authority Resources for further information.
Managing Local Authority Heritage Assets: Some Guiding Principles for Decision-Makers is intended for the key decision-makers responsible for the funding and care of council-owned historic buildings and places, including open spaces.
The advice aims to promote and encourage appropriate standards when managing such places and high quality design for new work to improve them.
Pillars of the Community is aimed at both local authorities and community groups, and is designed to provide clear, useful advice on when and how to transfer historic places from public to community ownership. The guidance also provides links to case studies, checklists, a glossary, bibliography and additional sources of information.
Many local authorities are taking a close look at the property they own with a view to making savings and rationalising their holdings. At the same time, there are increasing opportunities, provided in part by legal changes, for communities to take a more active role in their local area, including by taking ownership of surplus local authority assets.
Historic England supports a network of Heritage Champions across the country. Champions are appointed by local authorities and are normally elected members in those authorities.
They provide leadership, help join up policy and strategy across departments and, demonstrate how the historic environment can be used as an asset to help achieve the local authority’s strategic goals and bring a better quality of life to their community.
Our webpage on Heritage Champions gives more information about the potential benefits of having a Heritage Champion and the support we provide.
Local Heritage Lists and conservation areas
Identifying and managing those parts of the historic environment valued by local communities is an important element of protecting heritage.
Local designation allows for the management of local heritage through the planning system and provides an opportunity to work with local communities on what they value.
It encompasses both individual places identified by local listing and areas of local character represented by conservation areas.
Historic England's advice on Local Heritage Lists helps local authorities ;to identify and draw up a list of historic buildings and places which are locally significant. They can then develop policies and management strategies to make sure that they are protected proportionately and effectively.
Local government has a huge role to play in the conservation and protection of our historic environment. Not only do local authorities own and run large parts of our heritage, but they also have a key role to play in ensuring that it is fully considered as part of the planning process.
- Make planning decisions, and manage change within their area. Change can have a significant impact on local heritage assets and, the character and appearance of the local area. Part of the planning process can also include providing advice to owners of heritage assets on how they can be sustainably managed;
- They work in partnership with Historic England on proposed works to Grade I and II* Listed Buildings, major developments in Conservation Areas and the conservation of Scheduled Monuments;
- They often own and manage heritage assets of their own. These assets often sit at the very centre of a community, such as town halls, and historic school buildings and how they are looked after can have a significant impact on the feel of a place;
- They can support local groups who in turn work to protect and promote local heritage assets; and
- They promote local heritage. One way they can do this is through the selection of a Heritage Champion; another is by having a local list and making full use of and adding to their local Historic Environment Record.
Historic England is committed to helping local authorities develop the skills, knowledge, advice and capacity to make the most of their historic environment.
We promote the need for properly resourced and actively consulted historic environment departments - conservation officers, archaeologists and Historic Environment Records. A large part of what Historic England does is focused on working in partnership with local authorities.
We want to improve the quality and delivery of our services to those who are involved in changing or influencing change to the historic environment.
Historic England's Charter explains the steps we are taking to achieve this, and our commitment to delivering advisory services for planning and development in partnership with other agencies including local authorities.