Ecclesiastical Exemption: Rescue responds

Background: See the revised order, laid before the house on the 6 April.

Since the publication of Power of Place in 2001, the Government has strongly advocated the simplification of the planning process, through the integration of the various issues regarding heritage protection into a single unified consents regime.

Although in abeyance at the present time, the draft Heritage Bill manifested this principle, drawing together Scheduled Monument Consents and Listed Buildings controls into a single designations system, and including provisions for historic landscapes and battlefields.

This approach has been broadly supported by the heritage and planning sector.

With this simplification of the existing system in mind, RESCUE does not support the proposed changes to the Ecclesiastical Exemption Order 1994, outlined in the consultation on the Ecclesiastical Exemption: (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Order 2010. In RESCUE’s opinion, Ecclesiastical Exemption is an anachronism that has little demonstrable value within a modern planning and development context. Its continued operation complicates an already overcrowded development control process, whilst the Church itself implements only piecemeal protection for its heritage assets, and makes little or no provision for the formal archaeological care and investigation of its sites or buildings. We would strongly advocate therefore that in order to pursue the Government’s stated aim to rationalise and simplify the planning process, the Ecclesiastical Exemption Order should be abolished, and that subsequently all planning issues relating to ecclesiastical sites and buildings should be subject to local authority planning and listed buildings development controls.

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