The draft Heritage Protection Bill was published on 2 April and immediately welcomed by English Heritage.
The Bill puts engaging with the public at the heart of heritage protection, closes gaps in protection and sees decisions made at a local level and by English Heritage instead of central government.
According to the government, the result will be a system that is more open, accountable and transparent, giving more opportunities for public involvement and community engagement in understanding, preserving and managing our heritage.â€
It says the benefits of the reforms are not monetary but are "best expressed in terms of public value and sustainability".
The draft Bill is based on the proposals set out in the White Paper, Heritage Protection for the 21st Centuryâ€ published in March last year (NSS April 2007).
One result of the new system is intended to be a publicly accessible register of all England\'s heritage. It will be available online and will explain what is special and why.
In planning, a single \'Historic Asset Consent\' will replace separate Listed Building and Scheduled Monument Consent. Conservation Area Consent will be merged with Planning Permission. This will also help alleviate conservation bottlenecks in the current system that can slow down planning cases.
Local authorities will be given the powers to grant Historic Asset Consents, removing the role of central government in granting Scheduled Monument Consent. English Heritage will give expert advice where applicable, as it does currently.
Heritage Partnership Agreements between owners, local authorities and English Heritage will let agreed work take place without the need for time-consuming, repetitive consent applications for large or complex sites.
Lord Bruce Lockhart, Chair of English Heritage, said: "The publication of the draft Heritage Bill is a major step forward towards the way England\'s heritage is identified, protected and managed.
"Although most people believe the present system has served us well, it has grown over the last 100 years through incremental legislation. We are left with a system which is over-complex with confusing overlaps and hard to understand. We now need reform which simplifies; which brings efficiency and effectiveness; which involves the public; and adds clear and visible accountability.
"Our Heritage is a glorious national asset that gives us a sense of belonging and of local and national identity. It helps us to understand who we are and to take pride in our past.
"Strong and simplifying legislation will be of great value to all those in the public, community and private sectors who are involved together in managing our heritage. I welcome the publication of the draft Bill and look forward to its scrutiny by Parliament.
"It is the result of years of research and advice from our own heritage protection department and other experts within English Heritage and across the sector. We are confident that the draft Bill represents a system that is easier to work with and more open."
The draft Bill will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny before its passage through Parliament. If it is introduced and passed in the 2008-09 session, the new system could be implemented in 2010.