The historic environment is made up of the buildings, monuments, sites and landscapes that reflect our history.
If we did not have measures in place to protect and conserve the historic environment, important places would risk being changed and losing what makes them special, or being destroyed and lost forever.
We are responsible for protecting and conserving England’s historic environment for the benefit of present and future generations, and for helping people access and enjoy these ‘heritage assets’.
We look after the historic environment by:
- promoting the understanding, valuing, caring and enjoyment of the historic environment through funding English Heritage
- nominating places in the UK for World Heritage Site status
- protecting buildings of special architectural or historic interest by giving them listed status, which prevents them being demolished, extended or altered without permission
- protecting nationally important sites and monuments of archaeological or historic interest by giving them scheduled status, which protects them from being changed without permission
- protecting shipwreck sites of archaeological, historical or artistic importance by giving them protected wreck site status
- allowing charities and faith groups to claim grants equal to the VAT they pay on maintaining memorials and listed places of worship
- co-sponsoring the Churches Conservation Trust with the Church of England, which maintains over 340 churches of architectural, historical or archaeological importance.
- appointing the Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which gives out grants of National Lottery money, and making sure it meets its funding agreements
Bills and legislation
The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 sets out the rules for listed buildings.
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 sets out the rules for scheduled monuments.
The Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 sets out the rules for protected wreck sites.