Whenever proposals would affect a heritage asset, either directly or because of a potential impact on its setting, your planning application will need to be accompanied by a heritage statement.
Depending on the nature of the works you are proposing you may also need to provide quite detailed information, such as drawn joinery specifications, mortar mixes, methods of cleaning timbers or how insulation will be installed. This is so we are completely clear how the significance of the heritage asset would be affected by your proposals and there is no potential for misunderstandings that might lead to harm when the works are carried out. Your application may not be validated in some instances until the relevant information has been supplied.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires applicants to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected by their proposal, including any contribution made by their setting. This is commonly referred to as a heritage statement and should contain sufficient detail to understand the potential impact on the heritage significance of the asset. Heritage statements can vary considerably in the level of detail needed, depending on the works proposed and the nature of the asset. For more complex sites or schemes you are advised to engage a heritage specialist with experience of this type of work.
A heritage statement will usually cover the following:
- Identification of heritage assets
Identify all the heritage assets affected by the proposal. This may not just be the building or site itself. There may be an impact on the setting of other nearby or even quite distant heritage assets.
- Statement of significance
Explain what is important about the site or building and what its values are. We do not need a full history of the place if the works are relatively minor or affect only a limited part of the site but there should be enough information for us to understand what would be affected by the proposed works. Useful starting points will be the statutory list description for listed buildings, or the various conservation area appraisals but be aware that these will not describe everything that is of interest or value about a building or area and further research or analysis may be necessary.
- Impact assessment
You should explain why you are proposing the works, what the impact on the historic building or area would be and how the proposals have been designed to protect its heritage significance. If you have considered other ways of achieving your proposals please provide details and explain why this particular solution has been chosen.
- Mitigation strategy
This won’t always be necessary, particularly if the works are solely to repair or restore a heritage asset. But if some degree of harm has been identified you will need to explain what steps have been taken to avoid, minimise or balance out the harm. For example, is the intervention the minimum necessary? Are the works reversible? How has new work been designed to complement or harmonise with the existing? If any feature is to be lost or hidden, will it be recorded?
It is important to understand a historic site or building before finalising any plans for change, so we recommend that a heritage statement is prepared in advance so that it can be used to inform the proposals and help produce sensitive schemes. Heritage Statements should not be an afterthought simply to meet validation criteria.
More detailed guidance is set out in an advice notice provided by Historic England - Statements of Heritage Significance.
Last updated: 8.47am on Tuesday 19 November 2019