What are the National Amenity Societies?
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 culture that produced them. The oldest of these societies in Britain is the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, founded by William Morris in 1877; the youngest is the Twentieth Century Society, founded as the Thirties Society in 1979. Some of the societies are "period specific" - e.g. the Georgian Group and the Victorian Society; some have a wider scope. There are shared concerns and some overlap in areas of interest between them. The membership of these societies covers all parts of the country and includes a range of people, from those with a general interest and enthusiasm to those with expert knowledge.
Amenity Societies and Planning Controls
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. These societies - the Ancient Monuments Society, the Council for British Archaeology, the Georgian Group, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the Victorian Society and more recently the Twentieth Century Society - are described in the various current Acts of Parliament, in government circulars and other relevant literature as "The National Amenity Societies". The 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.
To find out more about the individual Amenity Societies please click here to visit their website.