IHBC slams DCMS applicant-led heritage consent option as legally flawed

The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), the UK’s professional body for building conservation specialists, has dismissed government proposals for applicant-led ‘certification’ to simplify listed building consent (LBC) as legally flawed and a threat to conservation.

Jo Evans, IHBC Chair, said: ‘Option 4 of the consultation in improving consent processes proposes a kind of applicant-led recommendation on consent for heritage works that cannot work. This is because it removes the independent oversight of public interest that, by law and practice, local authorities must observe.’

‘The duty of planning authorities, as laid out in section 66 of the relevant 1990 Act and endorsed in current policy, is to ‘have special regard’ to the preservation of a building or setting. If the applicant, whether householder or developer, decides on who advises the planning authority on these matters, then the outcome is fatally prejudiced.’

‘Indeed, does government really think that an applicant’s agent would submit a recommendation against consent for their own proposals, regardless of the controls in place? Actually, a competent professional would deal with problems long before submission, most usefully in close discussion with the conservation officer.’

‘Nor would this proposal complement current procedures or expand sources of advice, as the consultation suggests.’

‘Even if the proposal were legal, offering a detour around a council’s conservation service, self-evidently, can only undermine its standards.’

‘And competent advisers are already identified through existing listings, including the IHBC’s member lists and our own business registration service, HESPR.’

‘We have no doubt that option 4 proposals would be successfully challenged in court, not least by the IHBC.’

For HESPR, the IHBC’s Historic Environment Service Providers Recognition service, see: LINK

For the DCMS consultation see: LINK 

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