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DCMS unveils new heritage reforms

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Heritage minister Andrew McIntosh has unveiled the results of public consultation into proposed changes to the listed building system.

McIntosh also revealed further details of proposed reforms and the impact the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) hopes they will have on architecture and construction.

The package includes important new rights for owners of old properties, including statutory consultation on decisions to spotlist and a new right of appeal.

Other reforms include the creation of a new 'super register' of all protected buildings, monuments, parks, gardens and battlefields - a move that was backed by 85 per cent of consultees.

Most significantly, responsibility for designation decisions will be transferred from the DCMS to English Heritage 'subject to certain important new safeguards'.

McIntosh said he was pleased about the proposed changes. 'Our current system of heritage protection is second to none, ' he said. 'If it did not exist, the landscape of England would be a vastly different, and an infinitely poorer one.

'But improvements can be made. There is too much overlap between safeguards and not enough transparency. We need a more open, more effective system.

'We need to manage change to ensure old buildings and public spaces are put to productive new uses, while retaining a robust level of protection for our assets, 'McIntosh added. 'We need to breathe new life into an old regime.'

McIntosh also announced that the changes would take the form of a White Paper, which would be published after a series of English Heritage pilot exercises currently under way (AJ 11.3.04).

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