World Heritage Sites are designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
A list of World Heritage Sites was established in 1978 which forms the cultural and natural heritage that the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value. The Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site was inscribed as one of the first World Heritage Sites in the UK in 1986.
The world heritage site status itself does not provide any additional legal protection or planning rules but in recognition of the particular importance of the Gorge the Council has specific planning policies and a raft of guidance to encourage best conservation practice.
The majority of the IGWHS is also designated as a conservation area, again with planning policies to preserve and enhance character and appearance.
In addition, for all dwelling houses an Article 4 Direction is in place removing some permitted development rights and brings under planning control certain items that elsewhere would not need consent.
Telford & Wrekin Council is the managing authority of the IGWHS and it has been UK Government policy that all UK world heritage sites should have management plans. The production of the Ironbridge Gorge Management Plan is overseen by the IGWHS Steering Group.