Statutory HERs included in the Levelling up and Regeneration Bill

CIfA is delighted to report that Historic Environment Records (HERs) are proposed to be put on a statutory footing in the draft Levelling up Regeneration Bill, which was published today.

The draft Bill, which applies to England, includes provisions that “A relevant authority must maintain an historic environment record for its area.” (Clause 185)

This has been an advocacy objective of CIfA’s for more than a decade, and we are delighted to finally have the support of Government to put this requirement into law.

If passed into law, this will ensure that a local authorities in England cannot close its HER, as has happened in a number of areas over the last decade. The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill also references the need to keep HERs up to date. This brings England into line with protections in Wales brought in through the Historic Environment (Wales) Act, 2016.

The inclusion of this provision for statutory HERs follows strong lobbying by CIfA, Historic England, and other sector partners including the Council for British Archaeology, Association for Local Government Archaeological Officers, and Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers last year in response to the Planning White Paper.

We will be looking in detail at the text of the Bill to ensure that it covers all necessary angles to ensure the provision is successful, including that it covers all modes of service provision and that charging for advice and access to the HER remains viable for Local Planning Authorities.

The Bill also contains a new duty to have regard to certain heritage assets in the exercise of planning functions, as well as provision for temporary stop notices for works in relation to listed buildings and urgent works to listed buildings.

We will provide more information on the Bill as it proceeds through Parliament in the coming months.