Petition Protect all monuments and statues from being taken down
All statues and monuments should be protected from being taken down under laws protecting listed buildings and structures, to protect our history.
We need laws to stop historical monuments and statues from being removed.
A 'listed building' is a building, object or structure that has been judged to be of national importance in terms of architectural or historic interest and included on a special register, called the list of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. The Government should extend these protections to all monuments and statues.
This response was given on 14 July 2020
Events have demonstrated how the statues and memorials that adorn public spaces elicit strong feelings. We are satisfied that the system in place recognises those that merit statutory protection.
Under the terms of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the 1990 Act’) the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is required to compile or approve a list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest (‘Listed Buildings’) as a guide to planning authorities in the carrying out their planning functions. Such buildings do not need to be of national importance in order to be ‘listed’.
In England, c. 12,500 statues and memorials (including plaques) are currently protected as Listed Buildings – including those protected in their own right or as part of the building in or on which they are located. You can find details of all Listed Buildings in the National Heritage List for England here: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/. Should the petitioners believe that other statues or memorials have claims to special architectural or historic interest they can apply to the Secretary of State, through Historic England, for them to be considered for listing. Details of how to do so can be found here: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/apply-for-listing/.
The Government does not propose to amend the terms of the 1990 Act to enable the listing of public statues or memorials that are not of special architectural or historic interest. It believes that the retention of this threshold is justified and appropriate – both to maintain the integrity of the list, and to avoid placing undue burdens on owners. Other opportunities exist to recognise the significance of such assets. For instance, local planning authorities can opt to include them in ‘local lists’ and develop related policies. Advice for local authorities and communities on the development of local lists is published by Historic England, here: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/what-is-designation/local/local-designations/.
It is important to recognise that listing does not prevent a statue or memorial from being removed if the relevant planning authority decides to grant listed building consent (LBC) for this, having had regard to the terms of the National Planning Policy Framework.
The Government does not propose to remove contested statues or memorials located on its property. It believes that it is always legitimate to examine and debate Britain’s history, but that removing statues or memorials is not the right approach. Instead, it believes that they should be used to educate people about all aspects of Britain’s complex past, good and bad. This view is shared by Historic England, which is engaging proactively on the subject of contested heritage, supporting conversations with guidance, research and advice to owners, local authorities and communities.
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
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