Historic Environment: Local Authority Capacity (HELAC)

Reductions to budgets mean that nearly everything local government does is being re-evaluated and historic environment services, which are non statutory and have often evolved to meet the needs of the local community, are not exempt.

To respond to this key stakeholders have got together to support authorities as they make these difficult decisions, to explore how to retain a focus on strategic heritage outcomes, reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and process and pool resources across public bodies and engage civic societies more effectively. HELAC represents a partnership initiative with English Heritage and the Local Government Group being joined by the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers, the Institute of Historic Building Conservation and the Planning Officers Society.

In April the partners invited areas to nominate themselves as potential HELAC pilots. These would be areas who either felt that they had an historic environment service from which others could learn or were going through the process of adapting their existing service to meet new pressures. In May the HELAC Board selected 5 areas with whom the partner organisations would work more closely to document the development of models of learning. Those 5 areas are:

  1. Cheltenham District Council
  2. Chichester (West Sussex Councils)
  3. Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Gloucestershire and Oxford Councils)
  4. Essex County Council
  5. Northumberland County Council

We are now working with these partners to record the development of those models. The intention is that this process will be completed in August and will start to be disseminated in September. That dissemination will take a number of forms, but they will also be available via the HELM website.

If you have any questions about HELAC, either relating to one of the pilots or relating to the dissemination of the learning, you can email

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