The annual Anthony Dale lecture was held on 6 March in the Music Room of the Royal Pavilion. Exceptionally, refreshment afterwards was served in the Banqueting Room, passing through the splendidly restored Saloon on the way.
The speaker was Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, the public body formed in 2015 by separating out the charity which has kept the brand name of English Heritage. This cares for the over 400 monuments which make up the so-called National Heritage Collection, ranging from Stonehenge to, nearest to home, Bramber Castle.
Historic England makes recommendations for listing historic buildings to the Secretary of State, almost all of which are accepted. Conservation areas are designated by planning authorities.
Listed building consent is granted by planning authorities; Historic England can only advise, though it can and on occasion does appeal to the Secretary of State if it objects. It is also concerned with developments which would adversely affect the setting of listed buildings and/or the character of conservation areas.
Historic England supports change provided any adverse effect on the historic environment is justified by the public benefit. It recognises that appropriate enabling development may be required to overcome the conservation deficit, as at Battersea Power Station.
It also recognises that historic buildings need to be economically viable. It is not enough simply to conserve the fabric of Madeira Terrace, some beneficial use of the arches will be necessary to fund future maintenance.
(with thanks to Alasdair Glass for this summary)