Over the last century or more several voluntary societies have been established with the express purpose of preserving the art and architecture of past centuries and promoting the appreciation of such buildings and the cultures that produced them.

In recognition of the considerable expertise of these societies and the fact that their membership is a good cross-section of the informed public, the Government directed in the 1968 Town and Country Planning Act that all applications for listed building consent to demolish listed buildings in whole or in part in England and Wales should be notified to a number of named societies. This gave them the opportunity to offer comments on the proposals and to assist both the applicants and the planning authorities. The arrangement proved an effective one and still continues. With the Garden History Society the obligation is to consult on applications affecting registered gardens.

These societies are described in various current Acts of Parliament, in government circulars and other literature as 'The National Amenity Societies' and this label distinguishes them from the many other local history and special interest societies which may become involved in the process of planning and listed building control. Over the years the National Amenity Societies have seen and commented on many thousands of applications to demolish, alter or extend individual historic buildings. They have responded to central government consultation on general policy proposals and helped to shape current attitudes towards building conservation.

A Joint Committee of the Societies meets six times a year to discuss consultation papers, changes in policy and law, taxation and other matters of mutual interest. There are two equivalent bodies in Scotland - the Scottish Civic Trust and the Scottish Architectural Heritage Society.

Chairman John Sell CBE RIBA DIP CONS FRSA

Secretary Matthew Slocombe, The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), 37 Spital Square, London E1 6DY. secretary@jcnas.org.uk

MEMBERS

Ancient Monuments Society 
Concerned with the study and conservation of historic buildings of all ages and types. Publishes a list of total demolition applications each year. In working partnership with the Friends of Friendless Churches which owns 34 disused but historically important places of worship in England and Wales.

Council for British Archaeology
The CBA is concerned with historic buildings and sites of all periods and with promoting appreciation of their archaeological significance. The CBA's special focus is on Grade II buildings, on vernacular and industrial buildings, and on multi-period buildings where an informed understanding of the building's archaeological and historic interest is important.

The Garden History Society

Promotes the protection and conservation of historic parks, gardens and designed landscapes, and advises on their restoration.

The Georgian Group
Concerned with architecture from the late 17th century to the early 19th century but with a watching brief over earlier and later Classical buildings.

Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings 
The oldest conservation society in the English-speaking world, founded in 1877 by William Morris and others. Concerned with pre-1700 buildings and technique and philosophy of repair. Runs National Maintenance Week.

The Twentieth Century Society 
Concerned with buildings from 1914.

The Victorian Society
Concerned with Victorian and Edwardian buildings 1837 - 1914.
 

Updated 26 April 2010
Preliminary version: awaiting comments from amenity societies themselves