Heritage Statements and Statements of Significance
BS7913 describes The Assessment of Significance as
A wide range of factors can contribute to the significance of a heritage asset. As well as physical components, significance includes factors such as immediate and wider setting, use and associations (e.g. with a particular event, family, community, or artist and those involved in design and construction). The relative importance of the characteristics that combine to make up a heritage asset’s significance vary.
Examples of the characteristics that can be considered in assessing significance are:
a) Attributes relating to the physical and spatial properties of a heritage asset (aesthetic, historic and evidential value):
1) The design and how it has changed over time, including patina;
2) The materials used in construction; and
3) The survival of archaeological information in remains above and below ground (evidential value);
b) Characteristics relating to the context of the heritage asset:
1) Setting: How a heritage asset relates to its surroundings, for example, other buildings, townscape or the wider environment; and
2) How a heritage asset relates to what we know of similar assets, locally and/or nationally;
c) Characteristics relating to wider associations – (communal value/associative value):
1) The use of the heritage asset over time and its connections with a significant person, family or community;
2) Associations with historical, scientific or artistic events or works (such as literature or paintings); and
3) Social significance, and the historical, cultural, economic, political and social factors that influenced the design.
Section 66(1) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 provides that, when a local planning authority considers whether to grant planning permission for development that affects a listed building or its setting, it must have “special regard” to the desirability of preserving the building, its setting and any special architectural or historic features. In guidance on section 66(1), the Court of Appeal has decided that decision makers should give “considerable importance and weight” to the desirability of preserving the setting of listed buildings when:
1. Assessing the degree of harm which a development could cause to the setting of a listed building is a matter for the inspector’s planning judgment.
2. However, if he / she does conclude that there will be harm, he / she must give it considerable importance and weight.
3. Therefore there is a strong presumption against granting planning permission for development which would harm the setting of listed buildings. The presumption applies to all listed buildings but the strength of the presumption could vary, for example with the level of the heritage designation given to the building or the degree of harm.
Description of the Service
A Report will be in compliance with guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, with view to provide a description of the significance of the heritage assets affected. The NPPF contains some useful guidance - particularly in paras 126 to 141, which emphasise the desirability of protecting significance, stating that altering a heritage asset or setting can harm its significance and that the greater the harm the more the expectation should be that permission will be refused.
The National Planning Policy Framework Guidance states:
“128. In determining applications, local planning authorities should require an applicant to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting. The level of detail should be proportionate to the assets’ importance and no more than is sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal on their significance. As a minimum the relevant historic environment record should have been consulted and the heritage assets assessed using appropriate expertise where necessary. Where a site on which development is proposed includes or has the potential to include heritage assets with archaeological interest, local planning authorities should require developers to submit an appropriate desk-based assessment and, where necessary, a field evaluation.
129. Local planning authorities should identify and assess the particular significance of any heritage asset that may be affected by a proposal (including by development affecting the setting of a heritage asset) taking account of the available evidence and any necessary expertise. They should take this assessment into account when considering the impact of a proposal on a heritage asset, to avoid or minimise conflict between the heritage asset’s conservation and any aspect of the proposal.”
“Heritage assets may be affected by direct physical change or by change in their setting. Being able to properly assess the nature, extent and importance of the significance of a heritage asset, and the contribution of its setting, is very important to understanding the potential impact and acceptability of development proposals. A proper assessment of the impact on setting needs to take into account, and be proportionate to, the significance of the asset and the degree to which proposed changes enhance or detract from that significance and ability to appreciate it.”
The main aim of the NPPF is the desirability of sustaining & enhancing the significance of heritage assets & putting them to a viable use consistent with their conservation. The report will therefore study whether the proposed conversion of the outbuildings into self-contained dwellings will make a positive or negative contribution to the historic environment’s local distinctiveness. The NPPF now specifies that there is no longer a presumption in favour of conservation of designated heritage assets. Rather, the presumption is now in favour of sustainable development that meets the directives and policies of the NPPF as a whole, with “great weight” given to conserving heritage assets (Para 135). The greater the significance of the structure or setting, the greater the weight given to conserving designated heritage assets. Para 17 of the NPPF sets out the 12 principles of any development.
Hence, every application (relating to or affecting a designated heritage asset) will need to be accompanied by a Statement of Significance & Impact as part of the Council’s application validation system. This should therefore include:
- A description of the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting. The level of detail should be proportionate to the assets’ importance and no more than is sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal on their significance.
- Reference to the relevant historic environment record (HER), at minimum, and the heritage assets assessed using appropriate expertise where necessary. There is also likely to be a check the local development plan; the main local and national records, including the relevant Historic Environment Record (HER); statutory and local lists; the National Monuments Record (NMR), the Heritage Gateway and other relevant sources of information* that would provide an understanding of the history of the place (building/site) and the value the asset holds for society.
- This will usually involve an examination of the asset(s) and its setting. This should comprise a thorough visual and physical analysis of the heritage asset (and its setting & context) based on, and utilising, all the information as obtained in section b above.
- A consideration as to whether the nature of the affected significance requires a more detailed expert assessment, in order to gain the necessary level of understanding to inform the proposed works to the asset.
- Where a site on which development is proposed includes or has the potential to include heritage assets with archaeological interest, local planning authorities should require developers to submit an appropriate desk-based assessment and, where necessary, a field evaluation. See Para 139 of the NPPF. Great weight is given to the development's likely impact on the status and setting of the heritage asset & the likely harm to such asset.
On the basis of item 2 above, it is necessary to ask a Heritage Consultant or Historic Environment specialist, such as David Rawlins DipBldgCons FRICS IHBC, to undertake a detailed inspection of the property, and, if possible, the adjacent structures, to enable a record to be taken of the various stages of alterations to the building since it was built.
Background research will also be involved, including the documents outlined in item 1 and an assessment given as to any potential for archaeology by reference to public documents. The Research is likely to require visits to Historic Archives as well as reference to the NMR. Any costs charged by such Organisations, travel costs etc will be in addition to fees quoted, which will be based on the estimated time involved. The time taken must depend on the complexity of the structure found. The inspection is not a building survey and no comment is made with regard to condition.
The amount of detail required by the Statement will depend on the complexity of the property and the significance that such application will have on the property and the community.
For reference to the National Planning Policy Framework see: https://historicengland.org.uk/advice/hpg/decisionmaking/NPPF/
Please call David Rawlins DipBldgCons FRICS IHBC to discuss. Tel 01757 249327