Amenity Societies and Other Voluntary Bodies
The voluntary sector plays a large and vital role in heritage conservation. Every year hundreds of thousands of people volunteer their time to protect their heritage. Government has long recognised the large and irreplaceable contribution that voluntary organisations make to heritage protection, including through the planning system.
The National Amenity Societies
Under the Arrangements for Handling Heritage Applications – notification to Historic England and National Amenity Societies and the Secretary of State (England) Direction 2015 local planning authorities are obliged to consult the following amenity societies on all applications involving the partial or total demolition of a listed building (1).
1. The Ancient Monuments Society – concerned with historic buildings of all ages and types.
2. The Council for British Archaeology – concerned with all historic buildings, but with a particular interest in the archaeology of subterranean and standing structures.
3. The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings – concerned mainly with structures dating from before 1700, but also with philosophical and technical aspects of conservation.
4. The Georgian Group – concerned with architecture and achitecture-related arts from 1700 to 1840.
5. The Victorian Society – concerned with Victorian and Edwardian architecture and architecture-related arts between 1840 and 1914.
6. The Twentieth Century Society – concerned with architecture from 1914 onwards.
The National Amenity Societies have formed The Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies, which meets regularly to discuss matters of mutual interest.
The above societies are described in various Government circulars and other literature as ‘The National Amenity Societies’ and this label distinguishes them from the many other local history and special interest societies that may become involved in the process of planning and listed building control, albeit without formal notification.
Local planning authorities are obliged to consult The Gardens Trust on planning applications that are likely to affect a Registered Park or Garden(2).
The Theatres Trust can contribute advice on planning matters within their particular areas of expertise, much like the other amenity societies.
Civic and Preservation Societies
There is estimated to be well over 1,000 local civic and preservation societies in the UK. Their stated aims vary, but most provide a focus for those in the community who wish to promote and campaign for a better local environment, including through the conservation of local heritage assets.
The Civic Trust was founded in 1957 to coordinate the work of the local societies nationwide. It went into administration in 2009 through lack of funds. Civic Voice has been established to fulfill a similar role.
The Society of Antiquaries of London
The Society of Antiquaries of London was founded by Royal Charter in 1751 for ‘the encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries’. It is a registered charity. Its principal objectives are to foster public understanding of cultural heritage, to support research and communicate the results and to engage in the formulation of public policy on the care of our historic environment and cultural property.