Government details English Heritage split

Simon Stephens, 11.12.2013
Future of organisation in spotlight
More details on the proposal to split English Heritage in two have been revealed in a consultation document published this week.

A new charity that will retain the English Heritage name will be created in 2015 to run the National Heritage Collection, which includes properties such as Stonehenge, Kenwood House, Audley End, Dover Castle and Charles Darwin's home Down House in Kent.

The aim is for this organisation to be self-financing by 2023.

English Heritage’s responsibilities for conserving England’s historic environment will be delivered under the new name of Historic England, which will be a separate body.

The new charity in charge of the National Heritage Collection will receive an £80m government grant to improve the properties it cares for and to invest in new exhibitions. It is hoped the charity will also raise more than £80m from non-government sources.

The charity will receive government grant-in-aid on a declining basis from 2015-16 to the end of 2022-23 when this will end and the charity will become self-sufficient. It will fall from £21.4m in 2014-15 to £13.3m the following year.

The business plan for the charity assumes an average growth in admissions and membership income of 5% a year, which compares with a 7% annual increase over the past nine years (from £29m in 2003-04 to £53m in 2012-13).

The business plan also projects that English Heritage membership will grow from 700,000 in 2012-13 to 1.3 million by 2026-27 (an 86% increase). English Heritage currently attracts 5.2 million visitors a year and this is planned to increase to 6.8 million by 2026-27 (a 31% increase).Some heritage bodies have already made initial responses to the consultation.

“A reassessment of the government’s role in securing our heritage for the nation is very timely,” said Loyd Grossman, the chairman of the Heritage Alliance, which represents a range of heritage organisations.

“Through this consultation we must secure the best possible outcome for our historic environment, not only for the 400 or so sites in state ownership or guardianship but also for the way we protect and care for the broad swathe of heritage outside the National Heritage Collection.”

A National Trust statement said three key questions need to be considered during the consultation.

Will the new charity’s business model prove financially sustainable and ensure that the new body is able to meet the conservation challenge of looking after over 400 historic sites for the long term?

Will the level of government financing into the future of the new public heritage body enable it to retain English Heritage’s expertise and its capacity to underpin the work of the wider sector in protecting our historic fabric?

Will either of the new bodies still be able to act as the owner or funder of last resort to safeguard important properties that others won’t take on?

The closing date for responses to the consultation is 7 February 2014.

To take part in the consultation, click here (


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MA Member
11.12.2013, 23:30
Declining grant-in-aid until 2022 with income, visitors and membership expected to increase into the next decade. £80 million hoped to be raised from non-government sources. Parallels with declining GIA and increasing visitor targets, and an emphasis on attracting benefactors for English national museums and galleries? How long before these are cut loose and then abandoned by central government?
MA Member
11.12.2013, 16:37
The government can't sell of the sites (although I'm sure they thought of it), so this is second best.

How long before the conservation arm of this split is sold off and run as a publicly funded private company where the profits aren't reinvested but go to the pockets of stake holders?
MA Member
11.12.2013, 15:50
I worry that this will lead to the merging of English Heritage and the National Trust? I'd imagine before 2023 too.

That the government no longer wants the responsibility of caring for national heritage sites is a real worry, and although English Heritage has had serious funding problems in recent years (like the rest of the cultural sector) simply cutting it adrift will not solve the problem.