HC Deb 09 July 1997 vol 297 c471W
Sir Patrick Cormack

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will define the roles of(a) the Royal Fine Art Commission and (b) English Heritage in commenting on major proposals for new buildings in historically and environmentally sensitive areas. [6634]

Mr. Fisher

Local planning authorities were advised in a DoE letter of 17 March 1997 to seek the advice of the Royal Fine Art Commission (RFAC) on development schemes of national or major regional importance. The Royal Fine Art Commission is able to examine about 140 such schemes each year, not all of which have an impact on historic environments. The Royal Fine Art Commission will examine the design quality of a building itself and its impact on its surroundings. Its recommendations have no statutory force but there is a good record of their being adopted.

English Heritage is the Government's statutory adviser on the management of the historic environment in England. Local Authorities are advised in PPG 15 to consult English heritage on all planning applications for developments affecting the setting of grade I and II* buildings and of grade II buildings in Greater London, and on major applications for development in conservation areas. In order to give advice about the impact of new buildings on their historic environment, English Heritage must take a view on both the quality and the appropriateness of proposed extensions or new buildings. English Heritage saw over 5,000 such applications in 1995–96.

There is some degree of overlap between these functions and the staff of the Royal Fine Art Commission and English Heritage liaise to avoid duplication.

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