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EH to gain more power in radical listings overhaul

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A review of the listing system, to be revealed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) today, will include proposals for a radical overhaul in the protection of historic buildings.

The root-and-branch review is expected to recommend increasing the power of English Heritage (EH) to allocate, rather than simply recommend, listings; introducing a single list for all types of protected buildings and a right of appeal; and making the system more transparent. The plans, which will be open to public consultation before becoming a White Paper next spring, are being launched by heritage minister Andrew McIntosh.

Bob Kindred, heritage specialist and member of the review board, told the AJ the shake-up aimed to make the system more simple, open and flexible, and make working with listed buildings easier.

'There is a general feeling we should be managing the system more proactively than reactively, ' he said.

In the proposals, the tripartite system of scheduling, listing and conservation areas will be replaced with a single designation in order to create a more user friendly system, said Kindred.

To overcome the 'secretiveness' of the process, owners will be told if their property is under consideration. A mechanism will be introduced to protect the building in the interim, removing the need for controversial emergency spot listings.

The paper will also propose learning the lessons from nature conservation about how to replace the current 'alienation' and gain the support of the public, with owners and architects fully briefed on exactly what the listing is seeking to protect. And it will advocate a major increase in the use of Management Agreements for larger buildings such as the one currently in place for Basil Spence's Sussex University campus.

Other sources close to the review said EH was expected to gain the power to award listings, with appeals heard by the secretary of state.A greater role could also be given to new regional governments.

See www. ajplus for up-to-the-minute details.

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