I am glad Ken Powell prefaced his complaint about English Heritage and the accreditation of architects in conservation with the phrase 'reported stance' (Letters, AJ 27.2.03) as now I can reassure him and your readers that our forthcoming imposition of a grant condition relates solely to technical repair work.
As he writes, this does have a certain logic to it.
I agree with him that the standard of many interventions in the historic environment - be they internal alterations or extensions, or new buildings in historic areas - are often mediocre and sometimes inept.
This is why English Heritage and CABE have been holding regional seminars for architects, planners and others, called Building in Context. Also, I have suggested to the RIBA that the Institute and English Heritage combine to deliver best practice guidance on the design of alterations and extensions.
We have no problems with the radical 'new/old' juxtapositions cited by Ken. We were enthusiastic supporters of the London Eye and the Sackler Gallery [pictured], for example.
We like Carlo Scarpa's approach but know he too had to work in association with the local Soprintendenza (English Heritage's Italian equivalent).
There is still a place for the general practitioner in dealing with historic buildings, but I would also like to see more collaboration between technical conservation and design specialists in handling conversions and rehabilitations. That would set higher standards, I am sure.
John Fidler RIBA, conservation director, English Heritage