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Historic Environment Forum

Historic Environment Forum

The high-level Historic Environment Forum (HEF) brings together senior members of staff from public and non-government bodies to work collaboratively on strategic matters for the historic environment sector.

HEF is a top-level forum, which carries out a range of activities to co-ordinate sector initiatives, and to encourage and support research, conservation, presentation, enjoyment and use of the historic environment in England.

The Heritage Alliance manages the project, funded by Historic England, which provides secretariat for HEF and support to the newly established Task Groups, aimed at delivering positive changes for the sector to help people benefit from the historic environment. In 2020-21, two Task Groups have been devoted to post-Covid sector recovery. HEF is also responsible for setting the themes, directing the research and overseeing the content of Heritage Counts, the annual audit of the historic environment.

Other initiatives included Heritage2020, which has run from 2014 to 2020 to achieve a step change in the understanding, valuing, caring and enjoyment of the historic environment of England.

You can find out about regional Historic Environment Forums below.

Historic Environment Protection Reform Group

Summer Consultation 2016 responses: Heritage Protection Reform Proposals

The Historic Environment Forum (HEF), the heritage key-stakeholder group, has been concerned by the continuing reduction in heritage and planning resourcing in local authorities over many years.

In 2014 HEF set up a working group, the Historic Environment Protection Reform Group, to devise solutions. HEF consulted key heritage stakeholders on 15 proposed reforms in October 2015 which can be downloaded at the foot of this page.

These proposals were worked up in more detail, and HEF sought further input from stakeholders in a  summer 2016 consultation. Historic England has now kindly prepared a summary of the responses to this consultation which you can download below:

The summary of responses to the Summer Consultation paper [PDF] The Summer Consultation paper [PDF]

HEF’s October 2015 consultation papers were:

Paper 1 – Introduction Reform and modernisation of heritage protection in England [PDF] Paper 2 – HEF reform – Reducing Resource Requirements [PDF] Paper 3 – HEF reform group – Enhancing Capacity [PDF]

Heritage 2020

Heritage 2020 is a major cross-sector collaboration initiative being delivered under the oversight of the Historic Environment Forum.

The Heritage 2020 initiative, which follows on from the National Heritage Protection Plan, has five key themes: discovery, identification and understanding; constructive conservation and sustainable management; public engagement; capacity building; and advocacy. Key strategic priorities have been identified which will be taken forward through Working Groups linked with each theme. The Chairs and Vice Chairs of each Working Group report to the Historic Environment Forum through a Heritage 2020 Sub-Committee.

The project, managed by the Heritage Alliance and supported by Historic England, will run initially from 4th April 2016 – September 2018. The project enables The Heritage Alliance to provide a secretariat and the fundamental project management needed for developing and communicating the work of the five cross-sector Working Groups that underpin Heritage 2020, as well as support to the newly established Heritage 2020 Sub-Committee of the HEF. It will also oversee an interim evaluation of Heritage 2020 in 2018 and make recommendations for its future development.

Dr Mike Heyworth, Director of the Council for British Archaeology leading the initiative on behalf of the Historic Environment Forum said. ‘A key aim of Heritage 2020 is to demonstrate how partnership working can add value and lead to the delivery of key outcomes which will enhance the understanding, protection, and enjoyment of the historic environment in England. Historic England’s commitment to Heritage 2020 demonstrates its firm endorsement of collaborative working’.

The Heritage 2020 framework sets out how heritage organisations across England can work together in the coming years to add value to the work of individual bodies.

The five working groups have each published action plans and have web pages with further information. Find out more about Heritage 2020 and sign up to receive direct news at and follow @heritage2020 on Twitter.

Heritage Counts

Heritage Counts is an annual survey of the state of England’s historic environment. It aims to provide historic environment professionals and those interested in the historic environment with the information and data required to make decisions and influence policy about the historic environment.

Heritage Counts is produced on behalf of the Historic Environment Forum by Historic England.

For further information, the commissioned research and to download Local Authority Profiles and other indicators, see the Heritage Counts website.

HEF member organisations:

    • ALGAO (Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers)

    • Architectural Heritage Fund

    • British Property Federation

    • Chartered Institute for Archaeologists

    • Church of England Cathedrals & Church Buildings Division

    • Council for British Archaeology

    • Country Land and Business Association

    • DCMS [observer]
    • English Heritage

    • The Heritage Alliance

    • National Lottery Heritage Fund

    • Historic England

    • Historic Houses

    • Historic Religious Buildings Alliance
    • ICON – Institute of Conservation

    • Institute of Historic Building Conservation

    • Joint Committee of National Amenity Societies

    • The National Trust

    • Natural England

    • Royal Institute of British Architects

    • Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

    • Royal Town Planning Institute

Regional Historic Environment Forums

The RHEFs – reflecting former Government Regions – have an ongoing role, and provide a degree of co-ordination for larger-than-local issues that has been lost elsewhere.

In addition to regional Heritage Counts publications these networks produce an astonishing range of resources, from heritage room hire to socio-economic impact studies.

East Midlands Heritage Forum

Contact Paul Bodenham, Local Engagement Adviser:

Yorkshire & Humberside Historic Environment Forum

North East Historic Environment Forum

North West Historic Environment Forum

Contact  Karl Creaser, Principal Local Engagement Advisor:

West Midlands Historic Environment Forum

South East Historic Environment Forum

South West Historic Environment Forum

London Historic Environment Forum

Contact Rachael McMillan, Local Engagement Advisor:

    • London Historic Environment Forum’s response to the Mayor of London’s Infrastructure Plan [October 2014]

East of England Historic Environment Forum

Contact Natalie Gates, Principal Local Engagement Advisor: