There are three Government departments that play a significant role in the conservation of the historic environment: the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. References to responsibilities below are to responsibilities in England only.
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
DCMS has overall responsibility for Government policy on the identification, recording, protection, conservation, enhancement and interpretation of heritage assets, and for their promotion as part of contemporary culture.
The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has a number of distinct heritage responsibilities, including:
1. Deciding whether to list a building or issue a certificate of immunity from listing.
2. Deciding whether to schedule a monument.
3. Deciding whether to issue scheduled monument consent.
6. Pursuing the ongoing programme of reform of the heritage protection system.
7. Providing grant-in-aid to Historic England
8. Providing grant-in-aid to the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
9. Overseeing the distribution of the Heritage Lottery Fund by the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
10. Overseeing the Portable Antiquities Scheme
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG)
Amongst other things, MHCLG has overall responsibility for the planning system. In consequence, it is responsible for:
3. Considering whether to call-in local planning authority decisions and recover appeals for the Secretary of State’s own determination.
4. Deciding whether to revoke or modify a listed building consent.
5. Deciding whether to confirm a listed building purchase notice.
6. Deciding call-ins and recovered appeals against planning and listed building enforcement notices.
7. Considering whether to exercise reserved powers to issue a planning enforcement notice or a listed building enforcement notice.
8. Deciding whether to confirm compulsory purchase notices.
10. Setting policy and regulating requirements for the process handling of planning and other consent applications (including neighbourhood planning) by local planning authorities, including consultation requirements.
Called-in decisions and development consent applications are reported on by planning inspectors, usually following a public inquiry. The report will contain a recommendation to refuse or grant permission or consent and as to the terms of any permission or consent that Secretary of State might be minded to grant.
MHCLG's involvement in planning and listed building consent casework is handled by the National Planning Casework Unit.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
DEFRA makes policy and legislation concerning the natural environment, sustainable development, food and farming, animal welfare, environmental protection and rural concerns. Its policies and practices have considerable impact on heritage conservation. Specifically, through Natural England, it is responsible for agri-environment schemes - agreements between farmers and land managers concerning the use and maintenance of land that often encompass the conservation of heritage assets.
(2) National Planning Policy Framework, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, June 2019