This chapter investigates the regulation of built heritage, looking at the main tools, the features of the collective decision-making process and the related economic and policy implications. A general argument stemming from the analysis is that the range and intensity of heritage regulation are the endogenous product of the public decision-making process and are crucially affected by experts (archaeologists, art historians, architects, and so on) who enjoy an informational advantage because of their knowledge and, consequently, high discretional power. Owing to their professional objectives, experts tend to pay scant attention to the opportunity costs of regulation. Consequently, the list of heritage to protect is enlarged, the range of compatible uses is restricted and private investments for conservation are likely to be crowded out, owing to the high costs imposed on them. A side effect is the unsustainable pressure on public expenditure and, consequently, the deterioration of heritage. The enlargement of public participation in decision-making and the reduction of information asymmetries – through consultation and regulation impact assessment – are means to restrain the discretionary scope of heritage regulators and to increase accountability. Their implementation and effectiveness, however, are constrained by the institutional context.
Edited by Ilde Rizzo and Anna Mignosa
Giacomo Pignataro and Ilde Rizzo
The chapter explores the policy area of cultural heritage conservation, to derive suggestions for appropriate public action. The conservation of a baroque monastery in Catania, which has been restored and reused for educational purposes by the University of Catania, is used as a case study. The chapter illustrates the extensive role of the public sector in heritage conservation, the actors involved – with special attention to the role of experts – and the forms of intervention, focusing on the use of regulation. Four questions are addressed: What should be conserved? Why do we conserve? Who should conserve? How should conservation be carried out? A political economy framework is used to show that the outcome of public intervention cannot be taken for granted, being affected by the features of the public decision-making process.