The Government has announced new guidelines for councils and developers with the aim of making the historic environment an asset, rather than an obstacle to improvement.

An historic judgment

This is the first integrated planning policy for protecting the historic environment that will affect archaeology, historic areas, buildings and landscapes.

The new policy is accompanied by detailed guidance from English Heritage and describes how the historic environment should inspire new buildings and high quality design.

“We need to be protecting what is significant about a place while making the most of its potential and this means quick and imaginative planning decisions,” said Housing and Planning Minister John Healey. “If you’re redeveloping your town centre you should be making the most of existing streetscapes such as canal side sites or former breweries.”

Councils will need to monitor all their historic assets, from listed buildings, conservation areas, scheduled monuments and archaeological sites and landscapes.

Further proposals include introducing new and clearer policies on setting and design, putting the historic environment in the context of climate change and placing greater emphasis on pre-application planning and discussion.

“A key shift in the planning policy statement is that it encourages everyone to first understand what is significant about a particular building and site before implementing change,” said Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage. “This should cut the number of poorly thought-through applications.”


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