Working with heritage assets requires specialist skills and expertise. These are important at both a craft and professional level. When developing and implementing proposals having the correct specialists on board is essential to achieve the best results on site and in ensuring all planning matters are dealt with in a thorough and comprehensive fashion.
Without specialist input, actions may be developed and implemented without a full understanding of the management needs of heritage assets and works may be undertaken that are detrimental to the asset rather than conserving it. The need for specialist heritage skills and ongoing dialogue with the council as well as other bodies, such as Historic England, is paramount for all stages.
Early and ongoing engagement with local authority in-house conservation professionals is vital. This allows a wider perspective to be taken on the management of heritage assets. Rather than simply being considered from a narrow property or financial viewpoint this will allow consideration of a building's 'optimum viable use'. The conservation officer's role is to ensure the heritage assets of the local authority are preserved, managed, enhanced and promoted. Typically, the conservation officer will offer pre-application advice for development proposals; assess how planning applications may affect heritage assets; agree inspection cycles; carry out visual assessments and assist in enforcement action.
Above: Positive heritage led design process.