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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 23:43 GMT 00:43 UK
Red tape hinders urban renewal
Workers on scaffolding
Bureaucracy is said to hinder the use of old buildings in regeneration
More needs to be done to make sure historic buildings are not left out of regeneration schemes, say MPs.

The report by the Housing, Planning, Local Government and Regions Committee calls for less bureaucracy where such buildings are concerned.

Chris Mole MP, who chaired an inquiry into the subject, said old buildings should be seen as an economic "boost" rather than a "burden".

The report calls for changes to the current taxation system.

Deterrent

It suggests that developers are being deterred from including historic buildings in plans to redevelop towns and centres in the UK because of the complex array of permissions required before work can begin.

Chris Mole MP chaired the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) Select Committee's inquiry into historic buildings and urban regeneration.

He said: "Historic buildings should be seen as an opportunity to boost the local economy and support communities, not a burden to areas in need of regeneration.

"Councils should provide a flexible regeneration framework for historic buildings in their neighbourhoods to ensure that they are not left as artefacts or worse allowed to rot".

VAT changes

The report urges the government to deliver zero-rated VAT on all repairs and alterations to historic buildings.

It is hoped that such a change to the taxation system would encourage the preservation and reuse of historic buildings.

Another suggestion put forward involves the responsibilities for historic buildings being transferred from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to the ODPM.

Funding opportunities are currently available from English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sources for schemes involving historic buildings.

However the impact of such funding is diluted because of poor coordination between agencies and restrictions on eligible projects.

The report also laments the severe shortage of conservation officers.


SEE ALSO:
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10 Jul 04  |  Wiltshire
Clyde project 'fails communities'
26 Jul 04  |  Scotland


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