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. email@example.com
for British Archaeology
for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
26 April 2010