Section 16 of The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2019 sets out the requirements for ‘Conserving and enhancing the historic environment’. Within this the relevant section ‘Proposals affecting heritage assets’ includes paragraphs that deal with the requirements for proposals that impact on heritage assets. Paragraph 189 states that:
‘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.’
Continuing further in section 16 significance is one of the guiding principles with the requirement to understand how this significance is gained and its level.
The purpose of a Heritage Statement is to meet these requirements by understanding the:
Form, materials and history of the affected heritage asset(s), and/or the nature and extent of archaeological deposits
Significance of the asset(s)
Ways to avoid, minimise and mitigate negative impact, in a way that meets the objectives of the NPPF
Opportunities to better reveal or enhance significance
This information is then used by the local planning authority to assess the impact on the significance as included in paragraph 190 of the NPPF:
‘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 into account when considering the impact of a proposal on a heritage asset, to avoid or minimise any conflict between the heritage asset’s conservation and any aspect of the proposal.’
In the NPPF a heritage asset is defined as ‘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.’ This includes assets such as listed buildings, conservation areas, scheduled monuments and non-designated heritage assets. Generally, Heritage Statements are required for listed building consent, works that affect the setting of a listed building or conservation area, substantial or total demolition in a conservation area and works to non-designated heritage assets. However, the local planning authority can request a Heritage Statement at other times if they identify that the proposal will impact on the significance of an historically important building or area.
For some types of applications such as listed building consent and work in a conservation area or World Heritage Site there is a statutory requirement to provide a design and access statement and in these cases the design and access statement can be included as part of the Heritage Statement.
The term Heritage Statement covers the other names by which this type of document is known with some examples being: Heritage Impact Assessment, Statement of Significance, Heritage Significance Statements and Justification Statements.
How we can help with Heritage Statements
When the application requires a Heritage Statement, we work alongside our sister company Heritage First who are experts in the heritage field and have produced statements for many heritage assets.