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Conservation group hits out at Jowell

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The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) issued a stark warning to the government on the day prime minister Tony Blair announced the date of the forthcoming general election.

On launching its Manifesto for Historic Placesyesterday (Tuesday 5 April), the IHBC condemned a recent essay on heritage by culture minister Tessa Jowell and called on ministers to respond more effectively to their electorate.

After it was revealed that ministers will go head to head on 5 May, IHBC chair John Yates said: 'We are disappointed at Tessa Jowell's recent essay on built heritage, Better Places to Live. It shows how the perspective is heavily skewed in favour of visitor sites and the most exceptional places.

'Her view that heritage needs to be recorded and destroyed to make way for new architecture is at odds with current planning policy.

'It fails to recognise the crucial role played by the historic environment in delivering urban and economic regeneration, achieving the aims of the government's own Sustainable Communities policy, delivering education and cultural development, and adopting more sustainable forms of development,' he added.

The IHBC is calling for statutory standards for resources in local government, integrated fiscal and development policies that recognise the heritage contribution to society and sustainable development, capacity-building programmes creating informed communities capable of positively shaping local development and, in England, for the cross-cutting conservation of historic places to be led by ODPM.

by Rob Sharp

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