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Historic environment: planning advice

Ensuring that the historic environment is protected through the statutory planning system

The historic environment is under threat from the changing pressures of modern life - we want to work to make sure that it's not needlessly or thoughtlessly lost. We do this by collecting and providing historic environment data, and giving advice and help during the planning process to protect heritage assets. We also make sure careful records are made of sites that cannot be preserved.

Our involvement can include correspondence on policy and development management, as well as contact with planning officers, applicants and archaeological contractors. We offer advice to all parties involved throughout the process, and we also maintain an Historic Environment Record (HER). This is the primary source of evidence that we use to make sure all decisions are made in an informed way.

Advice and information

Pre-application discussions can save you both time and money. It's advisable to consider whether the site of any proposed development is important to the historic environment. We suggest that you consult the HER at an early stage to see if there are any known heritage assets on, or close to, a proposed development area.  

Early discussions can be made with the Senior Archaeologist for advice on whether a site can be developed or not. For advice on planning applications and planning compliance regarding Listed Buildings, or buildings within a Conservation Area, please contact the Conservation and Design team in the Planning Service

The historic environment doesn't have to be an obstacle to development. Understanding the heritage aspects of a proposed development area and its context can often provide positive effects on site layout, design, materials or landscaping, and create a real sense of place and local identity.

How we respond to planning applications

There are four potential responses to any application from an historic environment perspective:

  • No impact: the proposed development will not impact on any heritage assets
  • More information needed: more information is required relating to heritage assets that may be affected
  • Programme of recording: heritage assets affected by approved developments will be subject to a recording programme
  • Development cannot proceed: development may be refused if substantial harm will be caused to significant heritage assets 

You can find more detailed information about each of these responses, along with answers to frequently asked questions, in our Icon for pdf Archaeology and Planning leaflet [478KB] .

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists provides a list of registered archaeological organisations

You can find further advice on how to manage heritage assets on the Managing the Historic Environment page.

Definitions from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF 2021: 67):

Historic Environment: 'All aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time, including all surviving physical remains of past human activity, whether visible, buried or submerged, and landscaped and planted or managed flora.'

Heritage asset: 'A building, monument, site, place, area or landscape identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, because of its heritage interest. Heritage assets include designated heritage assets and assets identified by the local planning authority (including local listing).'


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