Duncan Wilson has been named as the first chief executive of Historic England - one of two new arms formed when English Heritage officially splits in April
Wilson will be taking the reins of the new government agency which will take on the responsibility for listing buildings and giving advice on planning applications in its roles as an expert advisory body to ‘champion England’s heritage’.
Meanwhile Kate Mavor is set to take charge of the other arm - a new trust which will retain the English Heritage name and which will operate as a charity caring for the national heritage collection of more than 400 historic properties.
Trained as a professional archaeologist, Wilson directed the evolution of both Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College and Somerset House and is now overseeing the revamp of Alexandra Palace in London where he is developing a regeneration scheme with architects by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.
He was awarded the OBE for services to heritage in 2007
Speaking about the appointment, Wilson said: ‘England’s heritage is one of our greatest national assets and as its guardian Historic England must make sure that it is not only passed on to future generations in the best possible state, but also that we make best use of it, and that more and more people share our passion for it’.
Announcing the appointment, English Heritage chairman, Laurie Magnus, said: ‘It is vital that we have someone who has wide and practical experience of heritage to lead Historic England forward… He will inherit a body in fine heart, but facing some significant challenges’.
Founded in 1983, English Heritage advises on the care of the historic built environment, with 420 historic sites and their collections open to the public across the UK and 17,000 planning applications advised on each year. From 1 April, English Heritage will be splitting into a charity, retaining the original name, and Historic England, a non-departmental public body.
Wilson replaces Simon Thurley, English Heritage’s current chief executive who will be stepping down in May 2015.