Annual Conservation Management Statements: Best Practice

GN2014/2, Sept 2014

This is one of a series of occasional Guidance Notes published by The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC). IHBC Guidance Notes offer current and recent​ ​​guidance into topics that we consider crucial to the promotion of good built and historic environment conservation policy and practice. The Notes necessarily reflect knowledge an​d​ practice at the time they were developed​, while the IHBC always welcomes new case examples, feedback and comment to for future revisions and updates.

Executive Summary

1. This Note gives advice on the principles, structures, priorities and objectives of Annual Conservation Management Statements (ACMS) as one way of improving the delivery of local authority conservation services.

2. These Statements have proved to be a valuable and adaptable professional tool. They help to define the extent, complexity implementation mechanisms and outputs of a balanced local authority conservation management workload. They help to make explicit for elected councillors and senior managers the breadth, depth and potential success of delivery of the service being provided. This is becoming increasingly important where local authority services are under severe resource constraints in terms of expertise and budgets and components of the service are scaled back or abandoned.


3. Between 1995 and 2009, central government generated a number of initiatives aimed at improving good practice and better delivery of local authority services [1] and badged as aiming to achieve ‘Best Value’. In practice this would more usefully have been described as a means of raising standards and might have better been promoted as a sharing of ‘best practice’. An element of benchmarking between authorities was often involved as a route toward more efficient and effective (and by implication more economic) service delivery. [2]

4. Similar aims formed the background in the early 2000s to the setting of national and local performance indicators. These also attempted to elicit year-on-year improvements to local authority services including, selectively, aspects of heritage management [3]. National indicators, reflected more of an imposition by central government of ‘top-down’ benchmarks rather than a ‘bottom-up’ approach to proposed service improvements by local authorities and the professions with the support of the Local Government Association.

5. During this period, collaborative work [4] was also done in the planning and heritage fields by attempting to establish excellence models including those for development management; and conservation and urban design services [5]. These models were deliberately aspirational so as to be capable of adaptation to differing models of srvice delivery and to allow individual local authorities to tailor them to specific local circumstances – for example in relation to the scale of heritage assets and the resolution of specific planning and heritage management issues and service objectives.

6. Some of these exercises proved to be difficult to measure, were of questionable value or were abandoned at the pilot stage because of the anticipated costs [6], but valuable procedural good practice lessons where they did emerge were regrettably lost once central government abandoned National Performance Indicators in October 2010. [7]

7. While some specific exemplars of good practice found their way onto the Historic Environment Local Management (HELM) website [8], much of this became self-referencing and thus did not necessarily assist under-performing authorities or represent the collective concerns or needs of local authorities facing similar specific issues of service improvement.

8. One initiative generated by Best Value in Conservation [9] of particular relevance in the present climate of reduced local authority resources was the development of Annual Conservation Management Statements (ACMS). This has become increasingly important when the need for a minimum professional operating standard of provision is a pressing concern for conservation professionals in local government.

9. The genesis of ACMS can be seen to some extent in the services required by central government to be undertaken by the new unitary authorities in 1994 [10], but are more adaptable to the current circumstances, priorities and heritage assets of individual local authorities and therefore to some extent were a precursor to the Excellence models which followed on after the ACMS approach had been developed.

10. The extent to which local authority heritage management is a statutory or discretionary function is not specifically defined in this note but guidance is provided separately on the IHBC website. [11]

Annual Conservation Management Plans – the Principles

11. The intention of ACMS is to provide a clear overview of all the aspects of a local authority’s heritage management on both a statutory and discretionary basis set within a structure directly related to local political priorities and to the extent and type of heritage assets within the council’s administrative area.

12. Defining the management of the resource in this way, greatly reduces any ambiguity for elected councillors or senior operational management anywhere within the authority on what work is required to manage the local historic environment properly. It should be framed in a way that reflects local political and community aspirations and outcomes and also making explicit choices concerning the allocation of resources. It adds a level of robustness to the service where the authority if, for example there is a change of political control and consequent change to priorities.

13. Once an ACMS has been put in place, experience has shown that councillors, managers and the general public have a far clearer understanding and appreciation of the breadth of what proper local authority based heritage management entails. For newly elected councillors (or those assuming new heritage related portfolio, committee or forum responsibilities) there is often a great deal of surprise at the range of professional heritage work being undertaken, notwithstanding the resource constraints under which all local authorities now operate.

14. Every local authority sets overarching corporate goals and core objectives for service delivery tailored to local circumstances. These should include ones for the council’s proper management of the historic environment [12] for which the ACMS may prove a valuable tool. [13]

Annual Conservation Management Plans – the Structure

15. An ACMS usually consists of three parts:

a) a brief statement of the Council’s overall priorities and the relationship of conservation management activity to them.

b) a clear but brief statement of the Service Priorities for the Conservation Service. [14]

c) a detailed and structured articulation of all the work necessary to deliver those Service Priorities, with outputs, methods of measurement or performance targets where appropriate and practicable.

16. It is element (c) that helps address the ideals identified in paragraphs 12 and 13 above. Review of the content by the Council’s conservation specialist normally takes place around May each year to coincide with the outcome of elections and shortly after the confirmation of budget allocations.

Overall Council priorities (a)

17. It is not the purpose of this Note to attempt to circumscribe a Council’s corporate priorities, but typical examples may include high-level statements such as: ‘We will enrich and protect the authority’s heritage and it’s diverse cultural offering’, a typical principal aim of which would be for example to: ‘Protect, enhance and interpret the authority’s historic buildings, designated conservation areas and other heritage assets.’

18. The essential aim is for the ACMS to align as many heritage management activities to the Council’s high-level corporate goals as possible [15]. Accordingly, other relevant high-level statements relating to, for example, the cleanliness of the public realm and sustainability (with its implications for the condition and management of the public realm) might choose for an urban authority to ‘Seek to enhance the City/Borough through effective urban design.’ Other objectives might relate to area regeneration.

Service Objectives (b)

19. It is useful if service objectives are relatively few in number and form a bridge to a Council’s high-level statements and a suitable skeleton for the detailed and exhaustive articulation of the services being delivered. This latter level of detail can, of course, be updated and amended annually.

20. Typical conservation service objectives might be framed along the following lines. For example:

‘Provide a full Conservation Service [16] in accordance with planning and listed building legislation, in furtherance of the following agreed service objectives:

A. to protect and promote the historic identity of the Borough/ District/Unitary by the safeguarding of its heritage assets;

B. to offer practical technical advice and assistance to owners of historic properties, and the general public;

C. to offer grant aid, where eligible, targeted at areas of maximum need, to secure the proper maintenance and enhancement of historic buildings.’ [17]

21. Although overall goals and service objectives will vary according to the characteristics of the local authority concerned, the service description of the ACMS itself needs to fully articulate the form and extent of practical day-to-day management. The examples and structure that follow is based on the three service objectives given above, but are not intended to be proscriptive and should be tailored to an authority’s individual circumstances.

22. It is crucial to remember the audience for the detailed description of the service. As the potential author you will understand the service fully, but the readership identified in paragraph 13 may not. The effectiveness of the ACMS will dependent on being able to spell out some procedures which as a professional you may consider so obvious that they are an implicit not an explicit part of your work. Remember that some of these activities may take up a disproportionate amount of your time while others will take place only occasionally or at pre-determined intervals.

Service Objective A: Protection and promotion of historic identity

23. This heading within the ACMS will typically be broken down further according to the workload related to the relevant categories of heritage asset, irrespective of the frequency with which they will require a workload commitment during the year: listed buildings, scheduled ancient monuments; conservation areas; historic parks, gardens and cemeteries; and buildings of local interest. [18] Additionally any technical support for associated bodies would be included such as a local building preservation trusts; liaison with or participation in local or sub-regional technical forums etc.; and publication, promotion and other miscellaneous functions.

Listed buildings

24. Most local authority conservation services should have an established mechanism to keep potential candidates for listing under continuous review as part of normal workload. [19] Associated with this will be the regular but intermittent advice to building owners, agents, solicitors, other professionals and the general public about the criteria and process of listing. [20]

25. Buildings added to or upgraded on the Statutory List will require updating of the records, formal notification of owners and occupiers and communication with the relevant internal Council contacts and local amenity organizations. [21]

26. Related to this is the preparation and review of heritage assets as entries on a Heritage-at-Risk Register based on nationally established at-risk criteria [22] [23]; consulting affected owners and occupiers about relevant individual entries; periodically inspection of the assets - dependent on the degree of risk identified in each case; and where necessary, initiating appropriate action to ensure proper repair and maintenance or disposal for refurbishment. [24]

27. Where a local authority owns heritage assets, usually listed buildings, good practice will usually entail maintaining a schedule of these [25] and a mechanism for regular review of condition, proposed expenditure, necessary consents and regulatory requirements. This may be done autonomously or in conjunction with the authority’s asset managers. [26] It may also be necessary to proscribe workload related to the technical support and advice to estates and service managers necessary for their understanding of the significance of the assets and the statutory and other implications of any future proposals.

28. Any heritage assets which are subject to evolving Heritage Partnership Agreements should be identified in the ACMS along with the procedures required for agreeing with the participants/signatories, the scope and cycle of periodic review and the recording of updates and amendments.

29. If a councillor Historic Environment Champion [27] has been appointed [often, but not always the Planning Portfolio Holder] an item of workload will be the provision of regular professional and technical updates and the promotion of the work of the Service. [28]

Scheduled ancient monuments

30. If the authority owns any standing monuments, a workload item should allow for annual inspection of condition and maintenance, a review of proposals for expenditure and the necessary statutory consents in discussion with Historic England as necessary.

31. Co-operation with sub-regional or county Archaeological Service and Historic England should be identified as workload necessary to ensure the relevance and effectiveness of the Historic Environment (HE) Record. [29]

32. Monitoring of the HE Records held on the Council’s GIS will be necessary from time to time as will work to ensure the appropriate technical links function correctly and are kept operational.

Buildings of Special Local Interest

33. Many local authorities have prepared or are developing lists of buildings of local townscape interest, [30] often as Supplementary Planning Guidance to the Local Development Framework and in support of national heritage protection reforms. [31] If this is the case, the preparation or maintenance and periodic revision of such a list should be identified as an appropriate workload item.

Conservation Areas

34. The ACMS should define any programme for new designations; the timespan for the periodic review of existing conservation area boundaries and steps necessary for the appropriate level of public consultation. This is a clearly defined legislative function and statutory duty. [32] Involvement of specialist stakeholders (for example, a Conservation Area Advisory Committee), and reference to the relevant Council Portfolio Holder and Executive/Cabinet may be work which needs to be specifically identified as part of the Statement.

35. While it is good practice to appraise the character of proposed conservation areas (and commence a management plan) [33] as part of the designation process; there may be ‘legacy’ designations where this has not yet been done or where appraisals do not accord with current standards. [34] If this is the case, the ACMS may need to define the work required to bring this up to an acceptable level to meet statutory obligations.

36. As legislation imposes a duty of periodic review, the ACMS should define the timescale (or earlier if development pressures require) for existing Conservation Area Character Appraisals and Management Plans so as to ensure the descriptions, policies and proposals remain current.

37. An associated duty is work necessary to formulate proposals for enhancement of the conservation area [35]. The ACMS may therefore define the need for the identification, design and implementation of schemes of enhancement either on an opportunistic basis or as defined in the Conservation Area Management Plan. Such actions will make explicit in the ACMS the workload related to consultation owners, occupiers, statutory bodies and, for example the Conservation Area Advisory Committee (where one operates) or a Design Review Panel.

38. If a conservation area is likely to be threatened by inappropriate alterations which militate against its proper preservation [36], the suspension of permitted development rights by the imposition of Article 4(1) and (2) Directions under the General Permitted Development Order may be justified. The workload needed will potentially involve the public consultation process within the proposed area to be affected, together with other stakeholders such as the Conservation Area Advisory Committee. If the area is confirmed (or a Direction is already in place) there will be specific work required to monitor changes to the area affected periodically [37] to identify unauthorised alterations and take appropriate enforcement action as necessary.

Historic Parks, Gardens & Cemeteries

39. These assets may be in public, private or third-sector ownership and normally be on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, although other historic landscapes may also have been identified as being of high amenity value. Involvement will therefore usually be indirect. However, where these assets are in municipal ownership, the ACMS should identify any work generated from the capacity of as acting as the as the technical focus for the historic building and conservation area related aspects of works by the Authority. This may include liaison for where appropriate, with Historic England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and others.

Technical & professional support for associated organisations etc.

40. If the service supports or administers complementary organisations such as a Conservation Area Advisory Committee, the ACMS should identify the work necessary to support this such as the preparation of agendas, minutes, provision of accommodation for meetings etc., periodic review of the terms of reference and any training needs to ensure the professionalism of the organisation and quality of the advice is maintained.

41. If the service supports any charitable body in an official capacity for example by acting as the Authority’s nominee on a local building preservation trust, this workload should be identified in the ACMS for each of the bodies concerned. In the case of BPTs this may involve reporting on the status of heritage assets-at-risk and other neglected buildings as potential Trust projects and technical and legislative advice.

42. Membership of the Institute requires a commitment to CPD and the authority should formally recognize this in personal development training and annual appraisal. Participation in regular county-based or sub-regional forums should therefore by specifically be identified in the ACMS as part of normal workload as contributing to the sharing of best practice, the maintaining of consistent standards and peer review of activities and processes. Such forums may include, for example, county-wide benchmarking of heritage-at-risk entries.

43. Although there is a wide disparity of practice between Dioceses under the Ecclesiastical Exemption, works submitted under the Faculty Jurisdiction system occasionally require planning permission. It is good practice to identify in the ACMS a liaison mechanism whereby the receipt of the agendas and minutes of the Diocesan Advisory Committee can be scrutinized to endure that the need for any permissions under the secular system are identified at pre-application and/or pre-Faculty stage. Additional workload may extend to any redundancy proposals from the Diocese under the Pastoral Measure.

Liaison with statutory bodies

44. An ACMS should make explicit that, as the authority’s conservation specialist, it is your role to act as the Council’s central technical and professional reference point for all direct liaison between the authority and Historic England on matters of conservation policy and practice. Furthermore this workload should normally extend to acting as the central conduit within the authority on pre-application LBC discussions (for Grade I, II* and the local authority’s own Grade 2 applications); grant schemes; technical queries; liaison on candidate buildings for listing, and the management of scheduled ancient monuments.

45. Similarly, the role will identify through the ACMS the central technical and professional reference role for all direct liaison with other statutory consultees on matters of conservation policy and practice. [38] [39]

Research, Publication, Promotion and Miscellaneous Functions

45. While these activities play a subsidiary or occasional role, they should not be omitted from an ACMS. As noted in paragraph 42, and notwithstanding constraints on training budgets, it is essential that technical and professional competence should be maintained. The ACMS is a valuable tool by which to emphasise that attendance at appropriate seminars, workshops, conferences and courses, particularly those accredited under schemes for Continuing Professional Development are a compulsory requirement of membership of the relevant professional institutions (for example RTPI and IHBC). Inclusion in the ACMS of the need to maintain CPD should help ensure that sufficient resources are earmarked to meet professional institutional requirements which in turn should result in a better trained, motivated, retained workforce.

46. It is axiomatic that the professional specialist conservation function will require the preparation of reports. This workload should be identified in the ACMS as this will inevitably involve the undertaking of research and disseminate information through publication of technical guidance notes and explanatory leaflets in printed and electronic media. They will concern, for example, the appropriate repair and maintenance of historic buildings, the operation of planning legislation and local architectural history to promote interest in the principles and good practice of historic building conservation.

47. It is good practice to maintain a photographic archive and adequate records including photographs of alterations to heritage assets including listed and locally listed historic buildings and structures and changes within conservation areas. This workload item in the ACMS enables prompt response to technical enquiries, the offering of advice on appropriate standards and techniques of repair and maintenance and assists enforcement action. It may be possible to commission some photography via volunteers.

48. Irrespective of the delegation of any specific powers to the conservation specialist [40] there will be a need to report periodically to the authority’s senior management and/or the relevant Committee on, for example progress on implementing the authority’s conservation policies, grant aid offered etc., and liaison with outside supported or related bodies. Where decision making authority is not delegated to officers, workload associated with the reporting to the relevant Committee and/or Portfolio Holder should be identifies in the ACMS.

49. It is good practice for the conservation function to be linked with or integrated into the authority’s Emergency Planning procedures and for this to be specifically identified in the ACMS. This usually requires attendance at short notice and/or after-hours when required where, large-scale or serious man-made or natural disasters involve damage to historic buildings, and to be available to offer on-the-spot professional advice to emergency services and associated professionals such as building control officers or fire officers on the safeguarding of historic fabric.

50. As identified in paragraph 18 above the service should provide the focus for heritage management input to the Council’s wider corporate working on, for example, regeneration, cultural, recreational and traffic strategies and on housing renewal, sustainability, flood risk and tourism issues and emerging regional and local strategies with a historic environment component. Although this is likely to be occasional, inclusion in the ACMS indicates the importance of participation in wider authority initiatives and ensures the integration of heritage considerations.

51. Clearly one workload item not to overlook is the need to review annually the activities and actions of the ACMS and its inclusion on authority’s web pages as necessary to ensure the content remains current.

Service Objective B. Practical technical advice and assistance

52. It is customary in an ACMS to divide the statement into two parts: advice on development management issues (that is, internal advice); and advice to owners, occupiers and the general public (that is, external advice).

Internal advice

53. Generally, specialist advice on development management (or the administration and processing of development management casework) is by far the largest component of local authority heritage management workload. [41] The fact that it does not dominate the content of an ACMS does not in any way diminish its importance but equally it must be balanced by other workload considerations, priorities and intended outcomes. By prescribing all the activities of the service, it becomes easier to apportion time and deploy resources to ensure all the Council’s approved Service Objectives are being met or where they fall short and to what degree.

54. The ACMS should make it explicit that it is good practice to offer pre-application advice and negotiation with potential applicants for statutory consents when requested; to make site visits where necessary; to offer guidance on conservation policy and principles (either in conjunction with development management officers or independently).

55. Work may be identified relating to the need to advise applicants and the relevant Council Officers on the content and standard of, for example, Listed Building Consent applications to ensure suitability for registration in terms of containing sufficient information in accordance with national policy and standards.

56. Crucially, the key element of this Service Objective is to make explicit in the ACMS the importance of specialist advice to development management officers about conservation policy and principles, national guidance and on matters of detailed design for the proper consideration of historic buildings and conservation areas aspects of applications for planning permission, listed building consent and advertisement consent. This will include joint site visits with development management staff where necessary.

57. As identified above, where the authority supports a Conservation Area Advisory Committee (or a Design Review Panel) an element of workload is likely to involve the reference of applications affecting historic buildings or conservation areas for comments and appropriate action.

58. Pre-application advice and advice during the processing of applications is undermined if this is not subject, where necessary, to post-approval monitoring to ensure compliance with conditions, quality assurance or enforcement.

59. Any need for enforcement arising from non-compliance involving post-approval meetings, site visits and the preparation of case statements, the terms of Listed Building Enforcement notices and court expert witness appearances (in conjunction with the authority’s Legal Services) should be identified by the ACMS.

60. This usually will involve (where necessary with the development management or enforcement officers) advice on the conservation policy and principles, and detailed technical and design advice for planning and enforcement appeals; informal hearings and written representations; and prosecution evidence for criminal breaches of listed building control and conservation area control. Progress on the conduct of heritage enforcement cases should take place on a regular basis to determine if any other procedures may be required such as by the use of injunctions or direct action.

External advice

61. While this work is usually unquantifiable it defines the accessibility (and approachability) and often the professional competence and efficiency of the service.

62. Resource and geographical constraints (for example, in large rural districts) may also play a factor and it is good practice to make explicit in an ACMS the importance of workload linked to site meetings with owners and occupiers of historic buildings. This role will cover not only advice on the appropriate alteration, repair and maintenance of historic buildings but also suitable techniques of repair and the availability of appropriate materials.

63. The ACMS needs also to make clear that technical advice to the general public by correspondence, telephone and through advisory leaflets and web-based material is an essential part of the delivery of the service.

Service Objective C. Schemes of grant aid

64. If the authority continues to maintain a grant budget for historic building repairs or enhancement and reinstatement, the ACMS should outline the workload involved, for example, the promotion of grant eligibility to owners and occupiers, evaluation of the appropriate standard of the proposed works, decisions on the levels of grant offered; supervision or inspection (and where necessary) specification of works; and payment of grant aid.

65. An additional and separate function may be to advise building owners, occupiers and the general public about other potential sources of grant aid (beyond any from the local authority itself) and the likely eligibility in the light of any site visits or communications etc.

66. Where the conservation service is involved in the preparation of, or relevant input into applications and/or supporting material for applications for external funding (from, for example Historic England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, government departments, the European Union or others) this should be included in an ACMS as should acting in any capacity for identifying other historic building and conservation area resources available from outside sources.

Performance Indicators

67. The performance of conservation services does not readily lend itself to the application of quantitative indicators and assessment of qualitative output can be both subjective and may take a long time to assess. [42] Furthermore, the Best Value benchmarking exercises of the late 1990s showed that direct comparison between seemingly similar authorities need to be approached with caution. It should also be borne in mind that perception has a part to play. For example, the authority’s decision to refuse consent for a sub-standard development proposal might be to maintain a minimum acceptable standard, which the proponent would only view negatively as an example of inflexibility.

68. Generally speaking performance indicators should be SMART:

Specific – targeting a specific area for improvement.

Measurable – quantifiable or at least suggesting an indicator of progress.

Assignable – specifying who will do it.

Realistic – stating what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.

Time-related – specifying when the results can be achieved.

69. As noted in paragraphs 4 and 6 above, ineffective, ill-conceived, time-consuming and resource hungry analysis of performance is unhelpful and often leads to abandonment. It may well be that in constructing an ACMS only specific, regular but under-performing activities need some form of measurement and as observed in paragraph 65, measurement of qualitative outcomes can be difficult in conservation services. Assignment of the preparation of an ACMS should certainly be the responsibility of officers with a thorough and detailed knowledge of all the facets of the service being delivered. In the restricted climate of local government resources identified in the summary, realism is essential. The ACMS should however define the time-related aspects quite easily.

70. A review of the ACMS will show workload that is regular and workload that is randomly generated or intermittent. If the workload is enumerated it is possible to assign timescales for compliance or completion. Although these are likely to be long-range, medium-term and short-term, some will have no timescale assigned to them but there will be an opportunity to review all of them annually.

71. A few typical examples might include:


· Review all conservation area boundaries and the scope for new conservation area designations every five years;

· Review the scope and coverage of Heritage Partnership Agreements every five years in conjunction with Historic England and owners.

· Reviewed annually all listed buildings for condition and occupancy, for the purposes of the authority’s historic buildings database and biannually for the Heritage at Risk Register as a basis for monitoring and action prompting repair. [43]


· Review quarterly the authority’s Listed Buildings to ensure progress on periodic survey, repair, and application for statutory consents under planning, fire, building control and disabled access regimes; and discuss heritage implications with other relevant Service Managers and ensure integration with statutory Asset Management.

· Participate in quarterly meetings of the sub-regional/county conservation officers’ forum.


· Provide specialist advice in writing by telephone, e-mail or by site visit on request to owners and occupiers of historic buildings and to the general public within 7 working days (where practicable). [44]

· Deal with requests for policy, technical and detailed design guidance from development management case officers on the heritage significance aspects of applications for planning permission, listed building consent and advertisement consent in particular - and general design advice (when requested) - within 10 working days.

· Respond to any enquires on matters of conservation policy and practice relating to historic parks, gardens or cemeteries within 14 working days.

Not time specific [45]

· Prepare and regularly review a list of buildings of special local townscape interest.

· Ensure all conservation areas to be covered by a comprehensive conservation area character description and management plan to national best practice standards.

· Provide emergency out-of-hours cover and advice for disaster planning affecting historic buildings identified in the council’s Emergency Plan whenever required.

· Maintain an effective photographic record of all Listed Buildings and all buildings subject to Article 4 Directions and other buildings in conservation areas as resources permit. [46]

Concluding Remarks

72. Readers who have reached this point in this Note may conclude that the preparation of a ACMS is too complex and time consuming be worth undertaking but perseverance is to be encouraged as it is only by fully assessing and specifying all the functions being undertaken or needed to deliver a balanced conservation service to an acceptable standard that the question of proper resourcing can be addressed. “We had no idea you did all that” is a common response.



[1] In June 1995 the Department of National Heritage issued strategic guidance to all local authorities achieving unitary status on 1 April 2006 emphasizing the importance of maintaining effective heritage management services. This was in fact the first centrally defined model of local government heritage service provision.

[2] Some services were to be the subject for the first time of compulsory competitive tendering.

[3] In 2004 the initial key NPIs were broken down as follows. KNPI-1, gave the proportion of council-owned historic assets receiving regular review of condition with related maintenance and repair programmes (as a percentage of the total number of properties on a comprehensive register of the local authority's heritage assets). KNPI-2 noted the proportion of conservation areas in the authority with character appraisals in accordance with national guidance. KNPI-3 detailed a Sites and Monuments Record covering the area of the Local Authority; and, KNPI-4 addressed the level of public satisfaction with the local authority service for the historic environment and its outcomes. Only KNPI-2 was applied nationally and its status as an NPI was questionable as it was an arbitrary statistical exercise not a measure of improved performance over time. It did however enable authorities to allocate funds to complete appraisals where these were lacking.

[4] The Excellence in Planning work was initiated via the Planning Officers Society in conjunction with IHBC, IfA, ALGAO, English Heritage, DCMS; ODPM, the Audit Commission and CABE.

[5] ‘Moving towards excellence in urban design and conservation’ 2003, published jointly by CABE, English Heritage and the Planning Officers Society. Publication Product Code: SASS 50789. The IHBC’s role was not acknowledged and the priority accorded to urban design over conservation was a reversal of the original emphasis, once CABE had become involved and undertook to publish the document.

[6] KPI-1 was abandoned because of central government’s anticipated cost and the request by local authorities for additional resources; KPI-3 was abandoned as being a non-statutory service; KPI-4 was abandoned because a common set of measures could not be agreed for widely differing models of service delivery and wide ranges of heritage assets.

[7] National Performance Indicators were abandoned by the government partly on principle and partly because of the overall cumulative cost of compilation - estimated by the Local Government Association to be cost local government £500M per annum at the time.


[9] Commenced 1998 – involving Ipswich BC (lead LPA); Bath and NE Somerset C; Bedford BC; Carlisle CC; Chester CC; Lancaster CC; and Swale DC.

[10] See Note 1 above.

[11] ‘Why planning authorities must have conservation skills’.

[12] Specific aims and objectives clearly might be less likely in authorities with a relatively small number of heritage assets.

[13] Heritage related objectives may extend to a wide range of council services, for example, inter alia a role in encouraging learning, new investment, innovation, regeneration and sustainable growth under an economic goal; helping to create an attractive historic environment (particularly for public transport) under a travel and transport goal; and forming an integral part of cultural activity and leisure opportunities including issues such as the quality of public space and public art.

[14] This may include discreetly identified associated services for example urban design or arboriculture and landscape work

[15] See Note 12 above.

[16] Provision of a ‘full’ service may be seen as aspirational at a time when resources are under pressure, but it is only by articulating what a full service comprises to protect the authority’s heritage assets, that a case can be made for what is - and is not - being done or is - or is not -being prioritised.

[17] Grant budgets (for repairs, occasionally for enhancement) have declined or disappeared in many authorities in recent years but have not disappeared entirely. They are useful in facilitating works and influencing the standard of repairs and are a catalyst for levering additional funding from, for example, the HLF.

[18] In exceptional circumstances there will be workload associated with World Heritage Site Inscription and subsequent management.

[19] This may be influenced by the evolving priorities of the National Heritage Protection Plan but will typically still include, for example, working notes of potential spot-listing cases, where applications backed by the local authority are accorded additional weight.

[20] Defining the media, that is by correspondence, telephone and e-enquiries, advisory leaflets and via the web, articulates the range of communications needing to be handled day-to-day.

[21] Many authorities maintain an up-to-date comprehensive, integrated statutory list, database and photographic record, but this is resource intensive and usually separate from any HER which can be difficult to access promptly.

[22] A timescale should usually be specified: annual, biannual, quinquennial as appropriate.

[23] This may be the authority’s own Register and/or compiled/published jointly with a consortium of other authorities and may be compiled using volunteers.

[24] Heritage-at-risk is recognized to be large-scale, long-term, resource intensive workload and consequently in most authorities is accorded a low priority but it is a crucial benchmark of the authority’s commitment to heritage management.

[25] As a separate and parallel procedure from statutory asset management.

[26] See for example `Maintaining local authority heritage assets’ [ODPM/DCMS /English Heritage 2003].

[27] Generally in line with the job description defined in English Heritage good practice guidance [2007].

[28] This may extend to regular or periodic training of other Councillors in particular Planning Committee members.

[29] Some authorities may also need to keep under review the provisions relating to an Urban Archaeological Database.

[30] Local list schedules approved by Council resolution and identified as ‘non-designated heritage assets’ carry weight in the consideration of planning appeals. Such lists go by various titles as covering buildings of local architectural merit, townscape interest and equivalent.

[31] Guidance is provided at:

[32] Part II, Sections 69-80 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act 1990.

[33] Including any proposals for regeneration and area enhancement.

[34] For good practice standards see:

[35] 1990 Act Section 71(1).

[36] Ibid.

[37] It is good practice to do this at least annually.

[38] Including but not necessarily always involving statutory notifications for consent applications under the relevant Circulars and Listed Building Directions.

[39] For non-statutory bodies workload in the ACMS might also extend to, for example, acting as the authority’s central technical and professional reference point relating to the War Memorials Trust and ex-armed services organizations on all matters relating to public war memorials.

[40] For example the service of Building Preservation Notices or the administration of grants.

[41] Successive annual surveys of local authority conservation provision by the Institute indicate that specialist advice on development proposals may occupy between 50% and 90% of officer time depending on asset numbers, inter-disciplinary skills, operational procedures etc.

[42] Examples include the extended length of time before a development proposal is implemented; or the success of a repair technique. In some cases the seamlessness of a repair and it ‘invisibility’ may be the measure of success and consequently completed work about which the general public may be unaware.

[43] Alternatively this might be on a percentage basis, for example, 10% or 20% per annum.

[44] In some cases the workload pressures or timescale or geographical location might make this impractical and the target may be longer or aspirational but be subject to realistic annual review.

[45] Some of these might be aspirational.

[46] Adding the phrase ‘as resources permit’ allows an additional degree of flexibility, but should not be an excuse for an annual review to revise the ACMS.

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