A chartered town planner and member of the Institute of Historic Buildings Conservation, Charles studied Civil Engineering, Town Planning, and Building Conservation with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) plus Architectural History.
He was Head of Planning and Urban Advice at English Heritage (EH), and had a varied roles at EH: as a listed building surveyor; doing listed building casework in London, as a historic areas adviser in the Midlands and East Anglia setting up and monitoring historic area grant schemes for EH and the HLF, before moving into the policy team.
He developed public realm policy and practice, producing Streets for All: A Guide to the Management of London’s Streets (2000). With colleagues he produced Streets for All streetscape manuals for all English regions; the EH/CABE Guidance on tall buildings; Enabling Development Guidance; Heritage Works guidance for developers on heritage on sites; and Heritage Counts, a series of reports on regenerating historic places.
Charles assisted EH’s input into the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and NPPG (2012); developed EH’s guidance on Neighbourhood Planning, Localism and heritage in public ownership and community asset transfer.
For 5 years a heritage and planning consultant, he is: Co-chair of The Heritage Alliance’s Spatial Planning Advisory Group; Co-chair of SPAB (2020), past President of the Association for Studies in the Conservation of Historic Buildings (ASCHB), and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He sits on several Design Review Panels, and advises West London amenity, residents and neighbourhood planning groups.