Conservation Officers Group

A forum for those working with our built environment in a local authority with a remit for heritage/conservation.

Conservation Officers Group (COG) has been meeting since June 2021 with the purpose of creating a forum and network for knowledge sharing and good practice. COG – stands for Conservation Officers Group, however all those working with a built heritage and conservation remit within a local and planning authority context are encouraged to take part.

There are currently 4 BEFS led meetings per year, occasionally with additional CPD sessions. Further group-led sessions are planned for 2024 as fits group need. If you currently work for a local authority within this remit and would like to have access to the group, please contact BEFS Policy & Strategy Manager – Hazel Johnson.

BEFS offer is as that of secretariat and ‘host’, a neutral space for discussion – the group is autonomous and any meeting topics, agenda, and resource library are led by attendees. BEFS works in collaboration and partnership, with the aim of enhancing sector policy capacity and advocating for the sector. COG is formed along these principles.

Read the COG response to the draft NPF4 Consultation.

COG Chair: Dr Alison McCandlish

COG Offers:


  • online forum (via Microsoft Teams Group) where participants can share questions/knowledge exchange – benefitting the day-to-day working of individuals
  • CPD – signpost to useful courses and ongoing work, seeking awareness of any gaps and seeking to provide CPD opportunities as required by the group


  • signposting to recent, relevant policy consultations, working with HES on updated Managing Change guidance and other documents, as necessary
  • signposting to recent planning and conservation documents/advice notes/guidance and updates
  • enable (if desired) group responses to relevant issues (primarily regional or national, where there are collective needs)


  • raise profile of role through collective understanding and collective responses to consultations
  • enable benefits of roles within Local Authorities to be better understood
  • share case studies of good practice and success stories
  • enhance sector understanding of the needs of LA officers and increased collective engagement with HES
  • Share greater understanding of both policy and conservation needs from the dual perspectives of policy makers and how the policy impacts on those working directly within Local Authorities.


Slides and further information about the Conservation Areas Event which took place at the Engine Shed in Stirling on the 29th of September 2022 can be found here.

This event was hosted by HES, the AHSS and BEFS.

In November 2024 a Conference was held by SPAB and BEFS on Scotland’s Churches in Transition: Planning for the Future. This brought together the Places of Worship Forum (BEFS) and COG – raising the challenges, the legislation in place, and examples of positive change – all with the aim of highlighting and supporting informed decision making for these sites.