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From the organisers of

April deadline for split of English Heritage and launch of Historic England

17 March 2015
The Historic England new look of part of English Heritage.

Key Facts about English Heritage

  • More than 400 sites open to the public
  • 11million visitors each year
  • Just under 750,000 members
  • More than 445,000 free educational visits a year
  • 10million photographs, plans and surveys publicly accessible
  • £22million given out in grants each year
  • 17,000 planning applications advised on each year

From April, English Heritage splits into two organisations. One, which retains the name of English Heritage, will be a self-financing charity looking after the 400 historical sites and properties it owns. The other, to be called Historic England, will take on the wider heritage role of English Heritage.

Along with the changes comes £80million from the government for the charity to carry out conservation work on its properties to bring them up to a required standard. The charity will also continue to receive grant-in-aid on a declining basis up to 2022-23.

In 2012-13 the English Heritage budget for its properties was £160million, £101.4million of which came from the Government.

The changes were announced in the Government’s spending review in June 2013. You can read the NSS report on them at that time here.

There are already entry fees to English Heritage properties and EH says these are regularly reviewed, but that it cannot raise all its income from this source because of the competitive nature of the heritage market seeking to attract visitors. It will be looking for other support and fund raising.

The new arrangement will leave English Heritage’s planning and heritage protection responsibilities with what will, from April, be called Historic England. It is this body that will in future be responsible for awarding grants, advising on and overseeing renovation work, commenting on planning applications and listing buildings.

Historic England will be the Government’s expert on all aspects of England’s archaeological and built heritage. It will protect that heritage and play a leading role in identifying those buildings and monuments that matter to people most and are at greatest risk. At the same time, it is intended it should be more public-facing and help to ensure the built heritage is understood, valued, cared for and enjoyed.

The Commission that currently manages English Heritage will run Historic England and will licence the English Heritage charity to run the National Heritage Collection.

In 2013 English Heritage celebrated 100 years of the Government’s involvement in protecting the nation’s built heritage, although English Heritage itself was only established under the National Heritage Act 1983. Before that the Department of the Environment had been responsible for maintaining ancient monuments as the successor to the Ministry of Works, which held the responsibility initially. The 1983 Act dissolved bodies that had previously provided advice to government on heritage issues, the Ancient Monuments Board for England and the Historic Buildings Council for England. Another advisory body, the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, was not merged with English Heritage until 1 April 1999.

People have asked what the difference is between the National Trust and English Heritage. The difference has been that the National Trust was a charity mostly looking after stately homes while English Heritage looked after a wider range of important sites and buildings. Now that English Heritage is also becoming a charity rather than an arm of government, the distinction starts to look a little blurred.

There are two new websites for the divided English Heritage / Historic England:


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