Following an enquiry
made about the demise of the borough Conservation Areas Advisory Panel that we reported on, the reply below has been received from a conservation manager.
“I can confirm that the Council has chosen not to continue its support for the Conservation Areas Advisory Panel (CAAP). The decision was taken under delegated authority by John Harrison
the Director of Development and Regeneration in August this year.
“Through the restructuring exercise (Sustainable Organisation Review Project) the Council has identified a number of changes within the Planning Division, one being the deletion of my post – the Heritage and Environment Manager Post. I provided the main Officer support for running CAAP (although we also provided secretarial support as well).
“The new structure includes for a Conservation Planner within the Development Management Section to deal with planning applications affecting the Boroughs heritage i.e. Listed Buildings and Conservation Area. The priorities for this post, as far as I am aware, will be focused on providing heritage advice to meet the Council’s statutory duties. The changes in Planning under SORP are to provide efficiencies and create a more sustainable and flexible staffing structure which meets our core Planning duties.
“Unfortunately running CAAP is not a statutory function for a Planning Authority to deliver and involves using valuable staff resource which can be directed back into more important work areas such as development management and processing planning proposals. This however does not mean that our role in preserving the character and appearance of our Conservation Areas will diminish as a result of the changes.
“Whilst the new structure only comes into force on 1 April 2020, many of the staffing changes will be brought in sooner to help provide a smoother transition and maintain services.
“I am sorry I do not know the costs/savings of the restructuring, as it affects the Planning Division, and suggest that if you require more information in this aspect that you direct that specific question to the Director of Development and Regeneration”.
It goes without saying that the contradiction within this change is obvious. Why make a change that admits to ending specialist support for an important aspect of our conservation heritage for the sake of the difference in salary between an expert heritage manager and a mere planner? No doubt someone will tell us!