IHBC Yearbook 2011

r e v i e w 23 Training Requirements for Conservation Officers Philip Belchere Although local authority conservation officers are rapidly becoming a rarity, the need for experienced and dynamic conservation officers has never been more acute. Development pressures with no regard for the historic environment are increasing and the dividends offered by heritage-based regeneration are increasingly overlooked by developers and, to some extent, by our planning colleagues. Sometimes it is up to the conservation officer to redirect the radar and bring conservation back onto the agenda. Conservation officers need a diverse set of skills due to the variety of the demands made on them, which means the selection and appointment of successful candidates is often quite challenging. While the selection criteria across authorities may be similar, the following comments are fundamentally Shropshire-centric. A clear and detailed understanding of theoretical and practical approaches to conservation is essential. At interview the applicant must demonstrate confidence and clarity in their understanding of significance and show balance in their approach at a pragmatic level to the wide-ranging demands of both stakeholders and heritage assets. They must have an understanding of the core documents underpinning conservation philosophy, in particular PPS5 and English Heritage’s Conservation Principles. They also need to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of planning legislation and policy, architectural history, traditional building construction, general building design and construction and the built environment. Of course, candidates also need excellent IT skills. The ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing The author (right) on site during the restoration of the squatters’ cottages at Blakemoorgate, Shropshire for Natural England (All photos: Shropshire Historic Environment)