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Government begins overhaul of listing system

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The government has released its long-awaited White Paper on heritage, which sets out legislative measures for a 'simpler and more open' heritage-protection system.

The bill, according Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, will be the first reassessment of heritage protection for 'a generation'.

One of the major issues the new legislation addresses is the devolution of the power to list buildings from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to English Heritage (EH).

Jowell says the bill aims to strip much of the bureaucracy out of the listing systems, as well as 'demystifying' it, making it fairer and more accessible.

For the first time, home owners will be consulted when their house is being considered for listing, and they will have the right to appeal.

Questions have already been raised over the proposed devolution of listing power, especially as EH has been the subject of major government spending cuts, and the heritage body has already stated there will be cost implications.

For now, however, EH is delighted to be in the driving seat when it comes to protecting England's historic buildings.

EH chief executive Simon Thurley, said: 'This White Paper is a vote of confidence in the expertise and ability of English Heritage, both for taking responsibility for the designation of the nation's heritage and in helping to create the best possible system for its protection and management.

For a full breakdown of Jowell's recommendations visit www.culture.gov.uk

by Richard Vaughan

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