"Good Practice Guide for Local Listing-  Identifying and Managing Significant Local Heritage Assets” By English Heritage

Comments on Consultation Draft by DMH Stallard Planning

This note summarises comments on the English Heritage Consultation Draft submitted by the Specialist Listed Building and Heritage Asset team of DMH Stallard Planning. It is important to recognise the burden which local listing may impose on owners or developers of buildings selected for local listing, and indeed on Local Planning Authorities, by Planning Policy Statement 5 (PPS5) Policy HE6 – the requirement to assess the significance of Heritage Assets affected by proposed development and to look at impact on the setting of such Heritage Assets.  

  1. The Status Of Locally Listed Buildings

The draft Good Practice Guide (GPG) begins by stating that local lists have been prepared and used in the planning decision making process since the 1970s and continues… “This Consultation does not change the level of protection provided to locally listed assets, but consolidates existing good practice around how local lists are prepared and managed.”

This overlooks the change in the status of local listing which was brought about by the inclusion of locally listed buildings in the definition of “Heritage Asset” in PPS5. Given the emphasis on the protection of all heritage assets in the PPS, this is significant and should be given greater emphasis in the GPG. 

  1. Recognising the Interests of Owners

The draft states in the highlighted text at page 13 that:

“Future management of any locally listed asset will be easier if the decision to list has been supported by the owners. It is therefore important that the views of the asset’s owner are taken into account when drawing up the local list. At a minimum owners will need official notification of the intention to list an asset that clearly sets out the planning implications of local listing”.

In our view, much greater emphasis should be given to the role of owners, and the need to discuss local listing with them. Some owners may welcome the identification of their building for local listing; for others this may be a constraint, and raise contentious issues as to the significance and utility of the building which they would wish to discuss with the local planning authority at an early stage in the local listing process. Whether justified or not, there is a perception amongst owners and developers that local listing is used by conservation groups to frustrate changes of use, adaptation or redevelopment of buildings and sites, whether or not in some cases, these have genuine conservation value. A clearly stated focus on early discussion with owners would be seen to assist in redressing this balance.  

  1. Buildings Which Do Not Merit Local Listing

We are concerned at the reference in paragraph 1.2:

“However, the absence of any particular heritage asset on the local list should not be taken to imply that it has no heritage value, simply that it does not currently meet the criteria for local listing set by the Communities” (Our underlining)

Fundamentally a building which does not merit any statutory or policy protection should not be described as a “Heritage Asset”, because it falls outside the PPS5 definition. Further we find as unhelpful, any indication that a building which does not merit local listing should nevertheless be identified for any particular protection in the planning system.

  1. Local Listing Other Than Through The Local Development Plan Process

The draft GPG recognises that local listing through the local plan process is the preferred option. The alternative, of consideration for local listing in response to a planning application, particularly where the list prepared through the development plan process is up to date, should be stated to be wholly exceptional.

  1. Selection Criteria

The first bullet point under this heading refers to “a building, monument, site, place, area or landscape…”.

This appears to us to be an extension of the concept of local listing, which traditionally has attached to buildings singly or in groups and urban open spaces. Monuments have their own legislative code, and sites, places, areas or landscapes ought generally to be protected under the appropriate Statutory code as conservation areas or in the appropriate categories for rural landscapes – AONBs etc. Note: These comments were submitted in mid May. We will report in due course on the final form of this Good Practice Guide.