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Analysis of the Impact of Sharing Local Conservation Services

Front cover for Analysis of the impact of sharing local conservation services

Prepared by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, project number 6908

By Fiona Newton

Note this document was written prior to the changes separating English Heritage into two organisations. The functions referred to in this report as being carried out by English Heritage were inherited by Historic England.

This report aims to increase understanding of the impact of local authorities in England sharing conservation services, so that the heritage sector can engage with local service consultations from a position of greater knowledge.

Research was carried out by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) on behalf of the pre-New Model English Heritage. This formed part of the National Heritage Protection Plan work on understanding capacity loss issues in local government historic environment roles.

The methodology included a literature review and a survey of information from ten local authorities that were chosen as a representative cross section (gathered in May 2014).

Headline findings

The report found that in the areas surveyed sharing services presented both opportunities and risks.

Positives included that shared services can -

  • Concentrate expertise
  • Enable knowledge sharing
  • Develop understanding and knowledge across all partners, building partnerships and networking
  • Build continuity and consistency of approach
  • Share knowledge and expertise
  • Increase service resilience and status

It was widely reported however that sharing services could lead to the following risks:

  • Over-standardisation of systems and processes
  • Lack of operational flexibility
  • Unbalanced power concentration
  • Increased system complexity
  • Unclear service accountability
  • Dampened employee morale
  • Ineffective communication
  • Unexpected implementation cost escalation
  • Long project timelines

It also found that that no one model was felt suitable for all authorities.

Additional Information

  • Publication Status: Completed


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