For most HERs compilation has been a complex process involving collecting information from a wide range of sources including national agencies, local bodies and private individuals. When SMRs were developing in the 1970's and 1980's three stages of information collection were envisaged: compilation, enhancement and ongoing maintenance.
In reality, the development of the information base held by HERs has been more ad hoc. The resources available for compiling information have varied considerably from one HER to another and also over time. A mixture of permanent and temporary staff (funded from, for example, local authorities, Historic England, Historic Scotland, Cadw, RCHME, RCAHMS, RCAHMW and the Manpower Services Commission, National Trust), volunteers and students have been involved in compiling and enhancing SMRs and HERs. In many of the present HERs increasing responsibilities for development control activities, the pressure of work arising from planning guidance and limited resources have given rise to backlogs of information waiting to be compiled and input into the HER database. The purpose of this section is to step back from the backlogs and take a fresh look at the range of information sources that is available and to consider old and new approaches to incorporating it into HERs.