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Losing English Heritage back-up is short-sighted

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Ruth Slavid is right to draw attention to the alarming loss of expertise that will follow English Heritage's (EH) reluctant decision to cut its architectural team (AJ 3.3.05). Bear in mind that this comes at precisely the moment the government is imposing a heavy extra workload on EH, in particular the reform of the listed building system as a result of the Heritage Protection Review. These proposed reforms have been widely welcomed, but they will only work if the government is prepared to back them with extra money. One of the commonest criticisms - shared by the government itself - is that those administering the system, particularly at local level, often lack adequate training and expertise.

Moves are being made to improve this, yet at the same time the specialist back-up that EH provides is being sliced away. What could be more short-sighted? Owners, professionals, regulators and, above all, the buildings themselves will suffer.

Philip Venning, secretary, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, London E1

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