The tailored review of the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England (more commonly known as Historic England) is published today.
As a non-departmental public body, Historic England is required to undergo a tailored review at least once in each Parliament. This review also examines the 2015 decision to split Historic England into two separate, though related organisations: one an arm’s length body operating under the name “Historic England”, and the second a charity called the English Heritage Trust (trading as “English Heritage”) that manages the national heritage collection of historic sites and monuments on behalf of the nation.
The review received evidence from a public consultation and roundtable discussions and from in-depth interviews with a wide range of heritage stakeholders. The review concluded that Historic England is a highly regarded and well run organisation with a strong reputation for its heritage and planning expertise and advice. Historic England is seen as one of the leaders in the heritage sector, providing high quality expert advice in England and undertaking world-leading conservation research.
The review made 31 separate recommendations that, once implemented, will complement and enhance the high regard in which Historic England is currently held.
The review concluded there are two significant areas in which Historic England can do more. First, in order for it to ensure first-class, long-term management of the national heritage collection, Historic England must improve its oversight of the English Heritage Trust’s performance and make it more publicly accountable.
Secondly, the review identified opportunities for Historic England to strengthen its leadership role within the wider heritage sector, especially in relation to diversity, by making heritage more relatable to wider audiences. This report comes at a time when our shared values are under close scrutiny, with the role of heritage at the forefront of this debate. Embracing the ambition for a more representative and inclusive sector must include reinforcing the primary role of heritage: preserving our history in its place and presenting it properly and accurately in its time and context. Rather than seeking to destroy, we should be enhancing and promoting our shared history so that its complexity can be fully understood. Historic England has a central role in delivering this for us all.
Copies of the Historic England tailored review have been sent to the Chair of the DCMS Select Committee and copies are available in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.
The attachment can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-11-24/HCWS598/.