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Let no one who reads your piece 'The Conservation Compromise' (AJ 07.05.05) be in any doubt. English Heritage is absolutely committed to working positively with the development sector, not in order to appease government but because we are a constructive organisation and this is the very best way of ensuring that the best of England's past has a place in the future.

The 'constructive conservation' I am calling for is not a compromise with developers - we will still say 'no' when we have to - but the latest part of a programme of modernisation that has already made our response time for planning consent applications 25 per cent faster than last year and brought about a surge in pre-application discussions. It is about relying much more on partnership and strategic engagement, focusing on speed and flexibility, guaranteeing clarity and consistency of advice and developing better commercial awareness and customer service.

Our heritage sector partners are with us on this.

What we all want is a code of conservation based on respect, understanding and dialogue which does not lessen or change current levels of protection. As I said in my speech at the launch of our five-year strategy, our aim is to improve the way people understand, value, care for and enjoy their heritage.

This is not political correctness. This is why we exist.

Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive, English Heritage, London W1

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