Heritage assets and planning
If you’re submitting a planning application that directly affects heritage assets or their settings, you’ll need to submit a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA).
This document details the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting. It’s designed to help us make decisions on the impact of your proposals for change to heritage assets and is required under paragraph 189 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
A HIA will always be needed for listed buildings applications, as well as for planning applications proposing the demolition of buildings within a conservation area. It’s also required for any new development affecting designated heritage assets including:
You should also submit an HIA if your planning application directly affects a non-designated heritage asset or its setting, including local listings, unregistered parks and gardens and potential areas of archaeological interest. Undertaking pre-application discussions with the planning department will ensure that heritage assets are identified at the earliest stage.
What is a heritage asset?
The term heritage asset is defined in the NPPF as a building, monument, site, place, area or landscape identified as having a significance that makes it a consideration in planning decisions, because of its historical importance.
Heritage asset includes designated heritage assets as well as local heritage assets identified by the local planning authority.
Assessing the significance of the heritage asset
Understanding the significance of the heritage asset is the crucial first step and should come before designing a proposal. The HIA needs to be appropriate and proportionate to the significance of the asset, the impact on that significance and the scope of your proposal.
Heritage assets encompass a wide variety of types. Understanding their significance and the possible impact of a proposed scheme is the key to good conservation practice.
Providing detailed information from the outset can speed up the processing of applications, reduce costs and lead to better overall design.
If the significance of a site has been clearly understood from the start (based on how the site has changed through time and what survives today), then we can better understand the impact of the proposed development and seek to minimise its impact.
I already have to include a design and access statement. Do I still need a HIA?
Yes. The HIA may form part of the design and access statement but the design and access statement is not a substitute for it.
Who should prepare the HIA?
The level of detail in the assessment will depend on the heritage asset and the extent of the proposal. The HIA should be written by anyone competent to do so. In some cases, this may be the heritage asset owner but, for a complex heritage asset with high levels of significance, it is advisable to employ a heritage professional such as a conservation architect, architectural historian or building archaeologist.
Independent bodies such as the Register of Architects Accredited in Building Conservation and the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists include a database of qualified professionals.
What should be included in the HIA?
The level of information submitted should be appropriate and proportionate to the significance of the heritage asset and the potential impact of the development proposal.
For example, for an application that includes substantial demolition of a heritage asset, it's reasonable to expect an applicant to provide a thorough and detailed understanding of the asset and a thorough explanation of the impact of the demolition on the asset and its setting.
An application for a minor alteration to part of the asset is likely only to require detailed information on the affected part of the asset, with only a brief explanation of how the impact relates to the significance of the asset as a whole.
A good set of colour photographs showing the proposal site should be included. There may also be historic photographs of the site, which can often reveal information about how the building has changed and can provide justification for proposed alterations or inform the design of an alteration or extension. Historic photographs can be viewed online via a number of sources, including Picture the Past, Inspire, and locally via local studies archives and our museum resource centre.
Historic map regression can also help in the understanding of the historic layouts of sites and buildings, the relationship with other buildings/structures and surrounding landscapes or gardens. An examination of historic maps may reveal how the site has changed and developed, providing evidence for identifying different building phases.
There are many sources of historic and modern maps, from enclosure and tithe maps to the more detailed Ordnance Survey maps which were first drawn in the mid-19th century. The types of maps that you should consult will very much depend on the age of the heritage asset and your proposals, but remember that the amount of research undertaken should be proportionate to the complexity of the proposal. Potential sources include: Insight Mapping, National Library of Scotland and Old Maps Online.
If your proposal site is within a conservation area, the relevant conservation area appraisal document may also be a useful source of information.
Consulting the Historic Environment Record (HER)
The NPPF also says that, as a minimum, you should consult the relevant Historic Environment Record (HER). The HER will typically include digitised records of archaeological sites and finds, historic buildings, and historic parks and gardens.
The Nottinghamshire HER is managed by Nottinghamshire County Council and can be accessed via the Heritage Gateway which includes spatial depictions of archaeological features, historic buildings, historic parks and gardens, battlefields, scheduled monuments and village cores. The HER is located at County Hall, and the Heritage Team can be contacted via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to the HER, you may find information in other external archival sources, including:
Heritage asset recording
We might request that you undertake heritage asset analysis and recording during our pre-application discussions. Often this is done to better understand the significance of the asset, including its condition and structural complexity.
Recording is also necessary when a condition is attached to a relevant planning permission or listed building consent.
Recording is particularly relevant if an asset may be lost in whole or in part.
Why record heritage assets?
The district’s heritage assets, often spanning several hundred years in age, have much to tell us about the lives of past generations. They can teach us about how people lived and worked, worshipped and spent their leisure time.
We can also learn from how buildings were constructed and adorned, the traditions they embodied and the aspirations they expressed. They’re a living record of our social, economic and artistic history, as well as being powerful contributors to our sense of place and to feelings of local, regional and national identity.
How to record heritage assets
The recording of heritage assets should follow available professional standards and guidance such as the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.
The most commonly referred to guidance is the Royal Commission of the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME) advice note ‘Recording Historic Buildings’ (1996). This guidance has been revised and expanded by Historic England in their publication Understanding Historic Buildings – a guide to good recording practice (2016). These documents define 4 levels of building recording that are frequently used in conditions attached to Planning Permissions and Listed Building Consents.
Level 1 recording is very simple and requires only a basic level of recording, whilst Level 4 represents the greatest complexity of recording and analysis. Each level corresponds to a minimum specification, from photography to technical drawings and building analysis.
Additional recording elements, such as specific architectural elements, may also be required, depending on the complexity or nature of the asset.
Heritage assets and building regulations
Building regulations set standards for design and construction order to ensure reasonable standards of access, health and safety.
The regulations apply to most new buildings, as well as many alterations to existing buildings, including listed buildings.
The building regulations only apply to new work and there is no general requirement to upgrade all existing buildings to meet these standards. Where a building did not comply with the regulations before the alteration, the proposals should be undertaken so that when complete, the building's compliance is equal or, ideally, improved.
You can view current building regulations in full on the gov.uk website.
Heat efficiency and thermal improvements
Listed buildings, buildings within a conservation area and scheduled monuments are exempt from compliance with the energy efficiency requirements of Part L of building regulations, when it can be demonstrated that the requirements would unacceptably alter the character or appearance of these buildings. Some other buildings of historical significance also qualify for special consideration in this guidance.
Part L of the Building Regulations legislation can be downloaded from the gov.uk website.
We’re often asked about window improvements and thermal upgrading in listed buildings. The detailed Historic England guidance on traditional windows: their care, repair and upgrading is a good place to start.
Building regulations compliance is monitored and certified in our district by East Midlands Building Control. You should contact them about what regulations will apply to your development project and what procedures you need to follow. Alternatively, there are accredited professionals who can provide building regulations advice and approval on a self-certification basis.