COMMENT –By Jon Millhouse, Director at Planning Design
Despite the perceived ‘relaxation’ of planning rules brought about by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and other legislative changes, the protection afforded to Listed Buildings is arguably stronger than ever and there is increasing recognition of the importance of the setting of heritage assets.
High profile court cases (for example at Lyveden New Bield and Barnwell Manor) have highlighted the legal duty of decision makers under section 66 of the 1990 Planning Act to have ‘very special regard to the desirability of preserving the special character of Listed Buildings’.
These cases, together with successive Historic England guidance notes on setting and a number of high profile wind turbine cases (including Barnwell) have also brought the issue of setting into sharp focus.
This does not mean, however, that development opportunities involving and within the vicinity of Listed Buildings should be avoided, just that they should be informed by a proper analysis of the significance of the heritage asset(s) involved.
Government policy now encourages applicants and local authorities to look for opportunities to enhance heritage assets and their settings, and allows for ‘public benefits’ to be weighed against instances of ‘less than substantial harm’.
There is also growing recognition –and evidence- of the economic benefits of heritage led development.
Now is therefore a good time to explore development opportunities involving heritage assets –but any proposal must be thoroughly researched and justified.
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