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Consultation paper on a new Planning Policy Statement 15: Planning for the Historic Environment (DCLG 2009)

Submission from ALGAO:England

A Response from the Association Local Government Archaeological Officers on:

Consultation Paper on a new Planning Policy Statement 15: Planning for the Historic Environment:

The Role of ALGAO

The Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers for England (ALGAO: England) is the national body representing local government archaeology services at County, District, Metropolitan, Unitary and National Park level in England. ALGAO: England co-ordinates the views of its member authorities (93 in total) and presents them to government and to other national organisations.

The range of services provided by our member authorities embraces all aspects of the historic environment including archaeology, buildings and the historic landscape; of particular relevance to this consultation is the role of our local authorities as managers of Historic Environment Records (HERs) and as providers of professional and expert advice on the historic environment to local planning authorities.


General Comments on the PPS

  • ALGAO: England (henceforth ALGAO) generally warmly welcomes the PPS and the principles it sets out, especially its inclusive definition of the historic environment bringing together archaeology, buildings and the wider historic environment into a single planning policy statement for the first time. It has clearly been informed by aspects of best practice which have developed over the last two decades since the publication of PPG16 but places decision making in the historic environment firmly within the planning system. We believe that this should lead to greater clarity in policy and in decision making.

    We also welcome the recognition of the importance of undesignated heritage assets in the PPS. The vast majority of archaeological assets affected by development are not designated; best practice in recording undesignated assets in HERs and their treatment in the planning process can ensure that appropriate decisions are taken regarding their management. We therefore support and welcome the coverage of the undesignated historic environment by the policies set out in the PPS (see also comment below under Annex 1, Historic Assets)

  • ALGAO also welcomes the holistic approach to the management of the historic environment and heritage assets through the planning system but feel that the importance of the wider landscape could be made more explicit, This includes for instance, the importance of the linkages and interdependences of the many heritage assets that make up the historic environment, their relationship with the natural environment and the ways in which these factors change through time. These concepts are important for understanding and managing the historic environment via the planning process, especially for large-scale developments, and it is essential that policy provision for them is included in the PPS. In addition, the PPS should include reference to the importance of historic landscapes within the statutory landscape designations of AONBs and National Parks. Such landscapes are especially important and are worthy of specific mention. It might also be useful if historic landscapes were specifically defined in Annex 1.

  • The introduction of the term ‘significance’ in relation to heritage assets is new and while it is generally welcomed, there is some concern over how the term relates in particular to the concept of ‘national importance’ which is used as the basis for designating scheduled monuments in the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act (Part 1, 1 (3)). The definition is also expanded upon in the non-statutory criteria in Annex 4 of PPG 16. This current, statutory definition and the criteria of PPG 16 Annex 4 are routinely used for assessing the ‘importance’ of undesignated archaeological remains revealed via the planning process and the consequent planning decisions concerning the conservation of such remains. ALGAO would therefore urge that appropriate guidance is provided by Government or English Heritage as to how the concept of ‘importance‘ will relate to that of ‘significance’ with respect to archaeological remains.

  • We understand that guidance on the principles of selection of nationally designated heritage assets is in preparation by DCMS and English Heritage and that this is likely to provide information and guidance on this issue. It is important that this guidance on the principles of selection is published as soon as possible as there is likely to be uncertainty over the use and application of the two concepts of significance and importance which is also likely in turn to cause confusion and potential delays to the planning process.

  • Generally there is a need to be rigorous in the use of terms and definitions throughout both the PPS and the Guidance Document. The use of the term ‘archaeology’ in particular needs to be consistent.

  • Reference to climate change and the reduction of the carbon footprint also occurs widely throughout the PPS. We feel that most of the references to climate change in the PPS sit uneasily alongside historic environment policy statements. In many cases this will cause unnecessary uncertainty and confusion and in some instances may result in a loss of protection to heritage assets (see detailed comments below under HE9.9 (iii)). We therefore feel that the very important implications of climate change on the historic environment, both in terms of using the historic environment to alleviate its affects and the need to for mitigation measure on the historic environment, would be best achieved by a stronger over-arching statement at the beginning of the PPS, with references to climate change in other policies only where it absolutely necessary.


Response to the Consultation Questions


1. Does the PPS strike the right balance between advocating the conservation of what is important and enabling change?

Generally we consider that it does strike a reasonable balance between the two. However, we do have some specific points of concern which we feel could potentially tilt the balance of the PPS too far in favour of enabling change.

The omission from the PPS of the key concept from paragraph 6 of PPG16 that archaeological remains are ‘a finite and non-renewable resource’ does remove a clear and powerful statement about conservation which has significantly contributed to the success of PPG 16 in conserving the archaeological heritage. Without this, and without a clear statement of a presumption in favour of conserving an assets unchanged, we feel that there is a danger that there will be a loss of protection.

Policy 9.7 appears to see public benefit only in terms of the proposed development and there should be a clear recognition that the public benefit may also lie in conserving an asset untouched.

In Policy 9.8 iii it is unclear how the clause ’wider socials and economic benefits, including mitigating climate change’ relates to ‘public benefit’ in 9.7. We also feel that the phrase ’including mitigating climate change’ is unnecessary and raises the prospect of trading off harm to heritage assets in exchange for measures to mitigate climate change. This potentially poses a new threat to historic environment assets and could result in a loss of protection, contrary to the government’s aims.


2. By adopting a single spectrum approach to historic assets, does the PPS take proper account of any difference between types of asset (eg are archaeological assets adequately covered)?

Whilst supporting the principal of a single spectrum approach, we feel that there are nonetheless significant differences between the nature of the types of assets and the ways in which they are conserved, and that these differences do need to be acknowledged in more areas of the PPS than is the case with the draft. Policy 10.3 for example sits uncomfortably with archaeological assets, the vast majority of which will have no viable use or reuse which should not be seen as a reason to diminish their value.


3. In doing so does the PPS take appropriate account of the implications of the European Landscape Convention, and the cultural dimensions of landscapes designated as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

No. Landscape does appear in Annex 1 in the definition of a heritage asset but we feel this is much too narrow a definition. Cultural landscapes are integral to the historic environment and form a significant part of the special qualities of both National Parks and AONBs. Landscapes have value as evidence of past human activity as they stand as well as having aesthetic , communal and symbolic value to people. The ELC also defines landscape as ‘defined by people’ and if the PPS is to properly address the ELC it needs to take these factors into account. This is particularly so as PPS7 prevents statutory landscape protection areas so the protection of non-designated cultural landscapes will depend on the policies in the PPS.


4. Are the policies and principles set out in the PPS the key ones that underpin planning policy on the historic environment, or should others be included.

Yes, in general they are, but we do feel that the principal that archaeological remains are ‘a finite and non-renewable resource’ should be included, as should a clear presumption in favour of conservation of assets if this is the only way to preserve their significance. We do especially welcome the statement in 13.1 that a documentary record of the past is not as valuable as retaining the asset.


5. Do you agree that it is the significance of a historic asset that we are trying to conserve?

Yes in principle. This is a new concept which has been developed from EH’s Conservation Principles and the work done towards the proposed Heritage Bill. Given the Heritage Bill is now seems unlikely to appear within the current Parliament, there are concerns as to how this new concept will read across to the existing heritage legislation which will remain in force. In particular, how it will relate to the concept of ‘national importance’ which is used as the basis for designating scheduled monuments in the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act. The definition is also expanded on in the non-statutory criteria on Annex 4 of PPG16.

The definitions of significance given in appendix 1 of the PPS also need some consideration especially that of archaeological significance. We are not convinced that the definition provides a sound justification for the protection and preservation of archaeological sites and it may be in conflict with other principles in the PPS particularly 13.1. It is also difficult to explain to non-specialists.


6. Does the PPS comply with devolutionary principles with regard to what is expected at regional and local levels?

Broadly yes but it needs to be made clear in the guidance that local planning authorities should have clear and robust policies for the historic environment in the Core Strategy and other LDDs should acknowledge the importance of the historic environment for it own sake and in the whole place shaping agenda.


7. Does the PPS strike the right balance between the objectives of conserving what is significant in the historic environment and mitigating the effects of climate change?

No, whilst acknowledging the importance of mitigating the effects of climate change, we feel that there is too much emphasis on it in the PPS and in places the wording implies that actions to mitigate climate change can be an excuse for allowing development which could impact on the significance of a heritage asset. Reference should be made to other relevant government documents and EH guidance on climate change and the historic environment.

We feel that the very important implications of climate change on the historic environment, both in terms of using the historic environment to alleviate its affects and the need to for mitigation measure on the historic environment, would be best achieved by a stronger over-arching statement at the beginning of the PPS, with references to climate change in other policies only where it absolutely necessary.


8. Does the PPS make it clear to decision-makers what they should do, and where they have more flexibility? Are there any risks or benefits you would like to highlight for the historic environment sector?

The wording of the PPS and that of the Guidance needs to be clearer in the roles and responsibilities it places upon local authorities.


9. The draft PPS highlights the importance of ensuring that adequate information and evidence bases are available, so that the historic environment and the significance of heritage assets are fully taken into account in plan-making and decision-taking. At the same time we are concerned to ensure that information requirements are proportionate and do not cause unnecessary delays. Are you content we have the balance right? If not how would you like to see out policy adjusted? (Policies HE8 and HE9 are particularly relevant to this question.)

Policy HE 8 is generally welcomed but there is concern over the inconsistent approaches adopted by LPAs. It is also unclear how the policy relates to circular 02/2008 Standard Application Form and Validation paragraphs 26 and 27 which state that validation is an administrative function and the quality of the information submitted should not affect the validation of an application.

As a rule planning applications are not validated by local authority staff with specialist knowledge and the Practice Guidance needs to provide practical advice to the local planning authorities on how to minimise the numbers of applications being validated without adequate information. This is particularly important in two tier authorities where the specialist archaeological advisor is likely to be based at county level.


10. In your opinion is the PPS a document that will remain relevant for at least the next 20 years? Do you see other developments on the horizon that have implications for the policies set out in the PPS?

The PPS has clearly been written with the Heritage Protection Bill in mind and whilst the principles enshrined in the PPS should last in is unlikely the PPS as a document will last that long.


11. Do you agree with the conclusions of the consultation stage impact assessment? In particular have we correctly identified and resourced any additional burdens for local planning authorities? Is the impact on owners and developers correctly identified and proportionate to their responsibilities?

Whilst we do not disagree with the assumptions made under option 2, we consider that there are likely to be wider cost implications for HERs in the medium to longer term, although we acknowledge that it is very difficult to make any estimates of these at present. As Annex A points out in several places, any additional costs in the longer term for HERs and developers will be dependant upon the ways in which HERs are enhanced to incorporate additional information on historic buildings. This will be dependant upon separate cost benefits studies that will be outside the scope of the PPS. However, it is also possible that direct enquiries to HERs from developers and LPAs could increase significantly in the short term. If so, this could increase costs.

However, we strongly disagree with the assumptions made for policy HE 13 on page 62. The assumption states: ‘Most recording will remain archaeological because applications for Listed Building Consent (or for planning permission in relation to an unlisted building) that involve the loss of significant fabric, on a scale that is likely to trigger a condition specifying recording and subsequent publication will only rarely be granted approval' This conflicts with the evidence from the ALGAO planning casework survey for 2007-08 which demonstrated that planning conditions were placed by LPAs on over 2000 planning applications and Listed Building Consents for designated and undesignated historic buildings


12. Do you think the draft PPS will have a differential impact, either positive or negative, on people, because of their gender, race or disability? If so how in your view should we respond? We particularly welcome the views of organisations and individuals with specific expertise in these areas.

We do not believe this will have a differential impact on people.


Comments on PPS: Part 1 Introduction

  • Paragraphs 1.1-1.3 (Planning and the Historic Environment) provide a useful statement about why the historic environment is important and the role of planning in its conservation and enhancement. In effect, it provides a succinct and easily understood rationale for the PPS, and we feel that these three paragraphs should be used as the basis for an introduction to the new PPS 15. Without such a clear statement, it will be a much less useable document for non historic environment professionals and experts.

  • In drafting such an introduction we also recommend that a brief statement should be made on the importance of the historic environment as the source of evidence about the human past, since this is one of the key reasons why the historic environment is a planning matter. PPG 16 described archaeological remains as ‘a finite and non-renewable resource’ vulnerable to loss as a result of development; we believe that a restatement of this concept would be helpful in clearly explaining the underpinning reasons for decision making on heritage assets in the planning process.

  • We also feel that paragraph 1.9, which contains a good explanation of the very important policy principle of ‘proportionality’ in dealing with the conservation of heritage assets, should also be included within the PPS.

  • 1.17: In making reference to the supporting guidance we feel that it is essential to clarify the status of the guidance, how it should be used by local authorities and the weight that it will carry within the planning system.

  • 1.18: Important non-planning material in PPG16 relates mainly to the archaeological legislation ie the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. In the absence of replacement legislation it will be important to issue guidance on the operation of the parallel systems of legislation and planning policy as they affect archaeological remains, particularly since the concepts and terminology of the two systems will be very different.


Comments on Annexe A: Planning for the Historic Environment

Policy HE1: Evidence base for plan-making
Policy NumberSummary of ContentsComments
HE 1.1 Regional and local planning authorities should ensure that they have evidence about the historic environment, and heritage assets in particular, in their area and that this is publicly documented. The evidence should be proportionate and sufficient to inform adequately the relevant planning process. Local planning authorities should ensure that they either maintain or have access to a historic environment record. We welcome this recognition of the status and significance of Historic Environment Records and that local planning authorities should maintain or have access to an Historic Environment Record. This reflects current provision whereby the national geographical coverage of the 80 HERs in England are maintained by ALGAO member local authorities. Access to these HERs is provided in various forms to all other LPAs; there is scope to define better the mechanisms through which access is provided in two tier areas, and it may be appropriate to develop further guidance on this matter as part of the guidance documents supporting the implementation of the PPS.

The unpublished Strand B work by DCMS and English Heritage for the Heritage White Paper in 2005, estimated that the discretionary funding by these local authorities of HERs amounted to £4.5 million per annum. This and the other policy statements about HERs in the PPS will be important in providing the necessary policy support for them in circumstances when this substantial discretionary funding by local authorities is increasingly under threat from funding cuts.

Because this funding is discretionary, it is subject to the priorities of individual local authorities. Therefore, although there are some national standards, it should be recognised that the development of HERs has not been uniform throughout England. ALGAO is working with English Heritage and DCMS to improve the overall standard of HERs so that they can all reflect best-practice and meet the needs of both heritage protection reform and the wider the planning system. An immediate priority is to ensure that the content of HERs supports the implementation of PPS 15; to this end current joint working between EH, IHBC and ALGAO is designed to accelerate progress towards this objective.
HE 1.2 This evidence, in particular that contained in relevant historic environment records, should be used to assess the extent, significance and condition of known heritage assets and the contribution that they may make to future development in the area. It should also be used to help predict the likelihood that new heritage assets, particularly sites of historic and archaeological interest, will be discovered, including through the development process. We welcome this statement about the positive use of HERS in managing heritage assets and the positive contribution of heritage assets to future development in an area.

Of particular importance is the recognition that new heritage assets may be discovered through the development process.
HE 1.3 Where planning bodies are addressing the conservation of the historic environment they need to consider both known heritage assets and areas where there is a potential for such assets to be discovered. We strongly support this paragraph and the reference in the last sentence to the need for planning bodies to consider sites of historic environment potential, where there is risk that as yet unknown heritage assets are present. Information held within HERs will assist in identifying such potential, thereby helping to avoid unnecessary problems and delays to development by identifying risks at an early stage of the development process. The process of identifying potential also of course requires interpretation of HER data by suitably qualified expert advisors.
Policy HE2: Regional Planning Approach
Policy NumberSummary of ContentsComments
HE 2.1 The character and significance of the historic environment in a region should inform the regional spatial strategy (RSS)6 with particular attention paid to the landscapes and groupings or types of heritage assets that give distinctive identity to a region or areas within it. The need for Regional Spatial Strategies to take account of the historic environment and especially the reference to landscapes is welcomed. However, we feel that historic landscapes should be defined in Annex 1 (see comments above).
HE 2.2 The RSS should ensure a consistent approach across the region to the conservation, enhancement and enjoyment of the historic environment. Welcomed
HE 2.3 In determining its strategy, the regional planning body should take full account of the positive contribution that the historic environment can have for regeneration, encouraging tourism, and enhancing the quality of the environment and the region’s sense of place, alongside other objectives such as economic growth and housing supply. Their approach should be consistent with securing progress against the UK’s carbon emissions targets. Strongly welcomed, although clarification of the last sentence is needed.
Policy HE3: Local Planning Approach
Policy NumberSummary of ContentsComments
HE 3.1 Having assessed the evidence, local planning authorities should, where appropriate, set out a positive, proactive, strategy for the conservation, enhancement and enjoyment of the historic environment in their area. They should particularly focus on the local distinctiveness of the historic environment and how this can be used to promote a sense of place. They should include consideration of how best to conserve individual, groups or types of heritage assets that are most at risk of loss through neglect, decay or other pressures. We welcome the policy, but feel that the term ‘where appropriate’ should be omitted or at least defined.

In order to assist local authorities we should like to see more details of what a positive proactive strategy should contain, perhaps in the supporting guidance.

We also would like to see specific guidance in the PPS for LPAs on the need to include policies on the local conservation and enhancement of the historic environment in their LDF Core Strategies. LPAs should also be asked to ensure that appropriate reference is made to the historic environment in other Core Strategy polices and in other Local Development Documents.
HE 3.2 Within the plan-making process, the historic environment should be seen as a stimulus to inspire new buildings of imaginative and high quality design that respect and harmonise with their setting and help to enhance the appearance and character of an area. Welcomed.
Policy HE4: Heritage Assets and sustainable development
Policy NumberSummary of ContentsComments
HE 4.1-2 The continued use of heritage assets can contribute to sustainable development. Keeping assets in use reduces the consumption of building materials and energy and reduces waste.

Local planning authorities should contribute to mitigating, or adapting to, the effects of climate change when devising policies and making decisions relating to heritage assets by seeking to reuse and, where appropriate, modify heritage assets so as to reduce CO2 emissions and secure sustainable development. While there may be occasions when climate change objectives conflict with conservation of heritage assets there will normally be opportunities for enhanced energy efficiency, improved resilience to weather, greater use of renewable energy, or sustainable drainage and use of water, that will make a contribution without such conflict arising.
Whilst we do not disagree with this policy, we feel it is too narrow and restrictive in its definition of sustainable development. Heritage Assets can – and do – contribute to sustainable development in many ways for which climate change and CO2 emissions are not the primary objective. These include for instance, place-making, green infrastructure and the protection of resources, such as soils and water.

Applying energy efficiencies to Heritage Assets should not result in “conflict” but should be seen in the context of striving to achieve reasonable adaptation without harming a Heritage Asset’s significance.

However, there does need to be some consideration of what takes precedence when there are conflicts and these cannot be resolved. We feel that there should be final presumption in favour of conservation of a historic asset, otherwise there may be a loss of protection from this policy.
Policy HE5: Permitted development and Article 4 Directions
Policy NumberSummary of ContentsComments
HE 5.1 Local planning authorities should consider whether allowing the exercise of permitted development rights would undermine the aims for the historic environment within the development plan or the general aims of conservation and enhancement set out in this planning policy statement. If so, they should consider the use of an article 4 direction for a single heritage asset, class of heritage assets or an area to limit the extent of such development. This policy appears to offer a very welcome opportunity to better protect vulnerable Heritage Assets across a local authority area, but little detail is offered as to actual implementation. The current system of Article 4 directions is cumbersome, expensive and hard to use effectively, representing an active disincentive to their use. We feel that this area would benefit from Government guidance on the most effective ways in which LPAs can use Article 4 Directions to conserve and enhance heritage assets.
Policy HE6: Monitoring indicators
Policy NumberSummary of ContentsComments
HE 6.1 Local planning authorities should consider how they can best proactively monitor the impact of their planning policies and decisions on the historic environment.

They should pay particular attention to the degree to which groups of heritage assets and individual heritage assets are at risk of loss or decay, how they expect this will change over time, and how they propose to respond.
This policy is generally welcomed although we feel that the wording (‘should consider’) should be strengthened.

We feel it would be beneficial to add an additional clause to the effect that local authorities should include a specific indicator relating to heritage assets at risk of loss or decay that are in local authority ownership.

In addition, guidance is needed on how such monitoring should be undertaken. Use could for example be made of the Heritage at Risk data complied by English Heritage.
Policy HE7: Pre-application discussions and assessment
Policy NumberSummary of ContentsComments
HE 7.1 PPS1 says that local planning authorities and applicants should consider the benefits of early engagement in pre-application discussions. Early engagement is particularly beneficial for applications with the potential to impact on heritage assets or their setting: understanding the significance of affected heritage assets is key to successful design (design that uses the advantages of the asset’s interest, whilst conserving its significance). The more the applicant and the local planning authority explore and understand that significance before designs are drawn up, the greater the chances of a successful application. The emphasis on pre-application discussions and assessment of the significance of historic assets is welcomed.
HE 7.2 Where a development site includes or has the potential to include, heritage assets with an archaeological interest, or where there is evidence for the potential of such assets being present, local planning authorities should require developers to carry out appropriate desk-based and or field evaluations as part of any application for consent. They should refer to the results of these evaluations when determining the design of the proposed development. A copy of the outcomes of such evaluations should be deposited in the relevant historic environment record. We generally welcome the policy, but consider that (as with policy HE 1.3 above) it should also mention the potential for the development site to include as yet unknown heritage assets with an archaeological interest.

Heritage Assets with an archaeological interest are often not identified until the process of assessment or evaluation has begun. It is in circumstances where there is thought to be a risk of such interest being present that, in the experience of ALGAO member local authorities, desk-based assessments or field evaluations are especially useful.

The policy should also be amended to say desk-based assessment and/or field evaluation may be required as it is frequently the case that a desk-based assessment will confirm the presence of archaeological interest, which will then need to be assessed by means of field evaluation.

We also consider that there should be a reference, as a footnote, to the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, which are a statutory process and which provide current best practice for the phased approach for assessing the significance of heritage assets. The Highways Agency Design Manual for Road and Bridges Vol 11 could also be cited in the PPS or Guidance It provides useful standards and guidance on the process of phased assessment for road schemes at the pre-application phase, and has been used for over 15 years.
HE 7.3 A heritage asset can be better conserved and the burden of the consent process lessened or even removed if through the use of pre-application discussions an owner and the local planning authority can agree the nature and extent of the significance of the asset. There is no obligation on either party to do so but the benefits should be considered by both parties. There is no obligation on either party to do so but the benefits gained by pre-determination discussions and physical evaluation, where appropriate, should not be underestimated and are likely to mean that consideration of an application by the LPA occurs more rapidly. We welcome the policy, but suggest changes to the last sentence, which are based on the experiences of ALGAO member local authorities, to increase the incentive to engage in such discussions.
Policy HE8: Information requirements for validation of applications for consent affecting heritage assets
Policy NumberSummary of ContentsComments
HE 8.1 Local planning authorities should require the applicant to provide a description of the significance of the heritage assets affected and the contribution of their setting to that significance. This should set out the information that has been considered and the expertise that has been consulted. As a minimum the relevant historic environment record should have been consulted and the assets themselves should have been assessed. This policy is generally welcomed, but there is some concern from ALGAO member authorities at the inconsistent approaches within LPAs to the registration of applications which affect heritage assets. Many local authorities currently validate applications that are inadequately documented and therefore clear guidance will need to be given on the implementation of this policy.
HE 8.2 Local planning authorities should consider the evidence provided by that description alongside the outcome of any consultation with the local community and expert advice from professional experts and/or statutory consultees as required.(This should include the results of any desk-based or field evaluations undertaken by the developer as set out in HE 7.2 above.) Again, it would be helpful to have further guidance on the requirements for the local authority to take professional advice, and also on the nature of the anticipated community consultation.
HE 8.3 Local planning authorities should not validate applications for consent where the extent of the impact of the proposed development on the significance of any heritage assets affected cannot be fully understood from the application and supporting documents.
Policy HE9: Policy principles guiding the determination of applications for development relating to all heritage assets
Policy NumberSummary of ContentsComments
HE 9.1 In considering applications local planning authorities should seek to identify and assess the significance of any element of the historic environment that may be affected by the relevant development (including development within the setting of an asset) drawing on the evidence provided by any relevant designation records, the relevant historic environment record, the heritage assets themselves and the outcome of consultations with interested parties and specialist advice. In considering the significance of a heritage asset, local planning authorities should take into account the particular nature of the interests in the asset and the value that it holds for this and future generations. This understanding should be used to avoid or minimise conflict between conservation of that significance and proposals for development We welcome this policy.

The term ‘specialist advice’ is introduced at the end of the first sentence. We would like clarification as to how this relates to the term ‘expert advice’ which used in 9.2 and elsewhere in the PPS. We would prefer to see the term ‘expert advice’ used.

We suggest that ‘Interest’ in line 8 should be replaced by “interests” because many heritage assets have more than one interest e.g. archaeological and architectural interest.

While the onus will be on local planning authorities to refuse to validate inadequately documented applications (HE8.3 above) in practice some applications will be validated before the nature of the heritage assets present have been fully assessed. It will be essential for authorities to be able to refuse planning permission where this is the case and where the applicant is unwilling to provide the information required. This should be made clear.
HE 9.2 Local planning authorities should use appropriate expert advice to inform decision-making relating to heritage assets where the need to understand the significance of the heritage asset demands it. This may be from in-house experts, experts available through agreement with other authorities, or consultants, complemented by specialist national organisations and local amenity societies. We generally welcome the policy. It reflects the range of mechanisms that LPAs can use to secure expert advice.

It will however be necessary to define the term ‘expert advice’ ether in the PPS or accompanying Guidance. We feel that any such definition should include membership of the relevant professional institute to ensure that such expert advice occurs within the appropriate framework of ethical and professional standards.
HE 9.3 Local planning authorities should particularly seek the views of the local community where the evidence suggests that the asset may have a historic, archaeological, architectural or artistic significance to the local community that may not be fully understood from records or statutory consultees alone. Whist this is welcomed in principle, we feel that this needs further clarification in terms of defining the local community and the process of consultation.
HE 9.4 In determining individual applications, local planning authorities should take into account the desirability of enhancing the significance of heritage assets, securing their conservation for the longer term and utilising their positive role in placemaking. We welcome this policy.The experience of ALGAO member local authorities is that these policy provisions can often be achieved via the current planning system but that this can be a difficult process. This clear statement of government objectives is helpful.
HE 9.5 Where development proposals that are promoted for their contribution to mitigating climate change have a potentially negative effect on heritage assets, local planning authorities should, prior to determination, and ideally during preapplication discussions, help the applicant to identify feasible solutions that deliver similar climate change mitigation but with no harm to the significance of heritage assets and their setting. We strongly recommend that the objective should be to make reasonable adjustments that cause “no harm” to the heritage asset.
HE 9.6 Local planning authorities should aim to ensure that, where reasonably practicable, new developments are designed in a way that respects their setting and reinforces the distinctiveness of heritage assets they stand alongside, in terms of scale, height, massing, alignment, and use of materials. In doing so, local planning authorities should, in line with PPS 1, take care to avoid stifling innovation and undermining investment in sustainable development. We support the principle but feel that the wording “where reasonably practicable’ in the first line makes the policy too weak and would advise that it is deleted.
HE 9.7 Where a development proposal has a negative impact on the significance of a heritage asset, through alteration or destruction, or through development within its setting, the local planning authority should weigh the public benefits of the proposed development against any harm it has on the heritage asset, recognising that the greater the harm to the significance of a heritage asset the greater the justification will be needed for any loss. Whilst we support the overall principle of the policy, we are concerned that the term ‘public benefit’ is not defined in this context. In particular, we would like to see clarification as to how this term relates to the policy in HE 9.8 iii below.
HE 9.8 Local planning authorities should not accept material harm to or removal of significance in relation to a heritage asset unless:
HE 9.8(i) the applicant can demonstrate that the harm or partial removal is necessary in order to sustain the asset in its original use or, if the original use is not possible, some other sustainable use that conserves the asset. This policy will be difficult to apply to the heritage assets with an archaeological interest and many with historic interest. For such assets, the original use may not known, and even where it is known, it is usually not the current use. Therefore the policy is not appropriate to heritage assets with an archaeological interest and many with historic interest.

In its current form, this policy will cause confusion and may result in delays to the planning process. We suggest that a clause is added which says that the policy refers primarily to heritage assets with an architectural, or artistic interest. In the case of heritage assets with an historic interest, it may also be appropriate for specific tests to be applied in order to determine whether a ‘reuse’ policy should be applied.
HE 9.8(iii) it can be demonstrated that the material harm to or removal of significance is outweighed by the wider social, economic and environmental benefits, including mitigating climate change, that will be delivered by the proposed development. We are unsure how the clause ‘wider social, economic and environmental benefits, including mitigating climate change’ relates to ‘public benefit’ in HE 9.7 above? We also consider that ‘including mitigating climate change’ should be removed from the end of the clause as this should already be included within ‘wider social and environmental benefits’. The inclusion of an additional specific reference to mitigating climate change also raises the prospect of the trading off harm to heritage assets in exchange for measures to mitigate climate change. This would constitute a new threat to the historic environment and could potentially result in a loss of protection.
Policy HE10: Additional policy principles guiding the consideration of applications for development related to designated heritage assets
Policy NumberSummary of ContentsComments
HE 10.1 Local planning authorities should be guided by the principle that the more significant the heritage asset, the greater the presumption in favour of its conservation. We welcome and support this policy.
HE 10.2 Material loss of heritage assets of the highest significance, including scheduled ancient monuments, protected wreck sites, battlefields, grade I and II* listed buildings and registered parks and gardens, should be wholly exceptional. Whilst we welcome the principle of this policy, we are unclear why Grade II Listed Buildings are not included in the list of designations. As the overarching policy HE 10 relates to designated assets they should be included. We are also unsure from the wording whether Grade II Registered Parks and Gardens are included in the list or not.
HE 10.3 Local planning authorities considering applications for development related to designated heritage assets should be particularly alert to policy 9.8(ii) which sets out the requirement for evidence that alternative ownership or uses for the asset have been explored. To be confident that no appropriate and viable use of the asset can be found, local planning authorities should require evidence that other potential owners or users of the site have been sought through appropriate marketing and that reasonable endeavours have been made to seek grant funding for the asset’s conservation and to find charitable or public authorities who may be willing to take on the asset. We reiterate the concerns about the usage of heritage assets with archaeological interest set out in respect of HE 9.8 above. Many (perhaps the majority) or archaeological sites do not have a viable use. This does not however diminish their archaeological interest and significance.
HE 10.4 In considering the significance of heritage assets local planning authorities should bear in mind that not all elements of a World Heritage Site or Conservation Area will necessarily contribute to its significance. Those elements that do contribute to the significance should be considered as designated assets in themselves (whether subject to separate statutory designation or not). When considering applications for development, local planning authorities should take into account the significance of such individual elements and their contribution to the significance of the World Heritage Site or Conservation Area as a whole. We are unsure of the soundness of including Conservation Areas and World Heritage Sites in the same policies in HE 10.4 and HE 10.5 as they have very different designation and management regimes.
HE 10.5 Where an element of a World Heritage Site or Conservation Area does not positively contribute to its significance, local planning authorities should take into account the desirability of enhancing or better revealing the significance of the World Heritage Site or Conservation Area, including, where appropriate, through development of that element. This should be seen as a positive public benefit and part of the process of place-making.
HE 10.6 Due to the discretionary approach taken to the scheduling of monuments and the statutory limitations on what can be designated as a monument there are many sites that are significant for their archaeological interest that are not designated at present. The absence of designation does not necessarily indicate lower significance.

Non-designated assets of archaeological interest equal in significance to that of scheduled monuments should be treated according to the same principles.
We welcome and strongly support this policy. It reflects the current position under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, case law under the Planning Acts, and established policy and practice within the sector since PPG 16 was published in 1990.

It should also be noted that the significance of an archaeological site is often not identified until assessment/evaluation has been undertaken and this will usually not take place until change is in prospect eg the preparation of proposals for development; again this emphasises that the absence of designation does not mean that an archaeological site is unimportant.

ALGAO member local authorities often have to provide advice to LPAs and developers on the conservation of non-designated assts of archaeological interest equal in significance to scheduled monuments. This policy principle allows the necessary flexibility that is required to accommodate the conservation requirements of such archaeological assets without imposing undue constraints upon development. As evidence of the success of this policy, the annual planning casework statistics for ALGAO member local authorities show that in 2006, less than 1% of planning applications which affected archaeological assets, were refused on archaeological grounds by reason of remains potentially of designation/scheduling quality being present (ie worthy of preservation in situ).

Note 14 refers to County Archaeologists. This term should be replaced by ‘Local Authority Archaeologists’ or ‘Local Authority Archaeological Advisors’ to reflect the diversity of types of local authorities.
Policy HE11: Additional policy principles guiding the consideration of applications for development affecting the setting of a heritage asset
Policy NumberSummary of ContentsComments
HE 11.1 When considering applications for development within the setting of a heritage asset, local planning authorities should treat favourably applications that preserve those elements of the setting that enhance the significance of the asset. When considering applications that do not do this, local planning authorities should weigh any loss of enhancement of the asset against the wider benefits of the application.

Reflecting the importance Government attaches to development that contributes to the wider principles of sustainable development, such benefits may include the wider benefits associated with increased production of energy from low or zero carbon sources. The greater the negative impact on the significance of the asset, the greater the benefits that will be needed to justify approval.
We welcome the inclusion of policy on setting but there will be a need for a much clearer definition of the term in the supporting Guidance.
HE 11.2 Where an aspect of an asset’s setting does not positively contribute to its significance, local planning authorities should take into account the desirability of enhancing or better revealing the significance, including through high quality design of new development. This should be seen as a positive public benefit and part of the process of place-making.
Policy HE12: Additional policy principles guiding development of a heritage asset that is otherwise contrary to the development plan (enabling development)
Policy NumberSummary of Contents
HE 12.1 Local planning authorities should use the following criteria to determine whether the benefits of an application for enabling development to secure the future conservation of a heritage asset outweigh the disbenefits of departing from the development plan, bearing in mind the requirements of section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 200415. - Will it materially harm the significance of the asset or its setting? - Will it avoid detrimental fragmentation of management of the asset? - Will it secure the long term future of the asset and, where applicable, its continued use for a purpose sympathetic to its conservation? - Is it necessary to resolve problems arising from the inherent needs of the asset, rather than the circumstances of the present owner, or the purchase price paid? - Is there a source of funding that might support the asset without the need for enabling development? - Is the level of development the minimum necessary to secure the future conservation of the asset and of the design and type that minimises harm to other public interests?
Policy HE13: Policy principles guiding the recording of information related to heritage assets
Policy NumberSummary of ContentsComments
HE 13.1 A documentary record of our past is not as valuable as retaining the asset. The ability to record evidence of our past should not therefore be a factor in deciding whether consent for development that would result in a heritage asset’s destruction should be given. We welcome this policy. It provides an improved and clearer statement of this policy principle than is contained within PPGs 15 and 16. It also reflects an established policy principle which guides the advice that ALGAO member local authorities provide to LPAs and developers.

We do however have some concerns about the possible contradiction between this policy and the definition of the term archaeological interest (see below).
HE 13.2 The process of investigating the significance of the historic environment, as part of plan- or decision-making, generates information and furthers understanding of our past. This information should be made publicly available, including through the relevant historic environment record. We welcome this policy which also represents an improved and clearer statement than is contained within PPGs 15 and 16. It also reflects established best-practice within the sector, as evidenced for instance by the annual statistics produced by the Archaeological Investigations Project (AIP).
HE 13.3 Where a decision has been made that will result in the loss of the whole or a material part of an asset’s significance, local planning authorities should ensure that appropriate provision is made developers maximise opportunities to advance understanding of the asset’s significance before this is lost.

They can/should do this by Local planning authorities should imposing planning conditions or obligations to ensure such work is carried out before commencement of the development.

Provision should be made, where appropriate, for developers to carry out any further necessary work1 including publishing the outcomes of such investigations and the advancement in understanding that those results bring. Copies of the reports should be deposited with the relevant historic environment record, and provision should be made for appropriate deposition of any archive generated. They should also offer the archive generated to a local museum or other public depository.

1 This insertion in italics is to allow provision for other provision including archaeological observation and recording during development (watching briefs); preservation of archaeological remains in situ and any other measures to secure the long-term enhancement of the asset.
While we support the objectives of the policy, we consider that the current wording is not appropriate for inclusion in the PPS, and we have made some suggestions for amendment in the text opposite.

The most important change that should be made is the removal of ‘where appropriate’ from the start of the last sentence in HE 13.3. The clause in this context implies that there are circumstances when it would not be appropriate for LPAs to impose planning conditions or obligations to achieve the policy objectives mentioned in the preceding sentences of the policy. However, we are not aware of any other mechanisms that could be used to achieve these objectives.

We also consider that the phrase ‘developers maximise opportunities’ should also be removed from the policy. We consider that the inclusion of this clause would result in a loss of protection for heritage assets since it implies that it is a matter for the discretion of developers as to whether action is taken. We also feel that the nature of the requirement to ‘advance understanding of the asset’s significance’ should be made clearer.


ANNEX 1. Terminology

Archaeological Interest
DefinitionComments
An interest in carrying out an expert investigation at some point in the future into the evidence a place may hold of past human activity. Heritage assets with archaeological interest are the primary source of evidence about the substance and evolution of places, and of the people and cultures that made them. These remains are part of a record of the past that begins with traces of early humans and continues to be created and destroyed. This is a new concept in planning policy, and we have continuing concerns about its appropriateness.

We are not convinced that it can provide a sound justification for the protection and preservation of archaeological sites; we feel that it is potentially in conflict with other principles in the PPS (especially HE 13.1); and it is a concept that is not immediately explicable to non-specialists.

We strongly recommend therefore that the concept is rigorously tested from the archaeological and legal perspectives during the post-consultation period before the finalisation of the PPS text. ALGAO would be happy to assist in this testing.
Heritage Asset
DefinitionComments
A building, monument, site, or landscape of historic, archaeological, architectural or artistic interest whether designated or not. Heritage assets are components of the historic environment.
We welcome this definition as it provides a logical distinction between the historic environment and heritage assets. It also reflects the current experience and practice of ALGAO member local authorities as to how the historic environment is dealt with via the planning process, especially in respect of the importance of non-designated historic assets.

The importance of the conservation of non-designated heritage assets within the current planning system can be demonstrated by ALGAO planning casework survey for 2007-08 which revealed that provision was made for heritage assets by LPAs in over 10000 development proposals, over 90% of which were not designated. Most of these were undesignated archaeological sites, although a significant minority (15-20%) were undesignated historic buildings.

In addition, The Institute for Archaeologists estimates that the total annual value of developer-funded archaeology in England has been in the order of £140 million in recent years (Hinton P and Jennings D 2007 Quality management and archaeology in Great Britain: present practice and future challenges, in Willems W and van den Dries M Quality Management in Archaeology 100–112. Oxford: Oxbow books) mostly from the private sector and almost all related to undesignated archaeological sites.

ALGAO therefore considers that the inclusion of non-designated heritage assets in the definition is both logical, reflects current practice and would not be a new burden on developers.

We also firmly believe that the concept of proportionality (defined in 1.9 of the introduction to the PPS) allows for the appropriate level of conservation to be provided via the planning process for non-designated heritage assets. This key concept has already been successfully applied to many thousands of archaeological sites since 1990 and ALGAO surveys show that it is increasingly being used for undesignated historic buildings.
Historic Environment Records
DefinitionComments
Historic Environment Records are information services that seek to provide access to comprehensive and dynamic resources relating to the historic environment of a defined geographic area for public benefit and use. Typically, they comprise databases linked to a geographic information system (GIS), and associated reference material, together with a dedicated staffing resource.
The word ‘Typically’ should be deleted from the beginning of the final sentence as all of the 80 HERs in England fulfil the requirement of the definition.

The definition could also usefully be extended to include a very brief summary of what a HER contains: records of heritage assets; records of investigative events; records of sources; landscape and character data.
Historic Interest
DefinitionComments
An interest in past lives and events. Heritage assets can illustrate or be associated with them. Heritage assets with historic interest not only provide a material record of our nation’s history, but can also provide an emotional meaning for communities derived from their collective experience of a place and can symbolise wider values such as faith and cultural identity.
It is assumed that this is meant to encompass prehistory in the conventional sense, but it may be desirable to mention this specifically.
Historic characterisation
DefinitionComments
Add definition

_'Characterisation of the known historic environment features as they are evident in the landscape today' is a laborious but more accurate definition._
It is felt that this could be strengthened within the document itself. Characterisation studies can contribute significantly to place shaping agendas and this should be acknowledged.

The term historic environment characterisation would be clearer and more accurate.


Comments on: ANNEX A: Summary of Key Costs and Benefits and Initial Assumptions

Whilst we do not disagree with the assumptions made under option 2, we consider that there are likely to be wider cost implications for HERs in the medium to longer term, although we acknowledge that it is very difficult to make any estimates of these at present. As Annex A points out in several places, any additional costs in the longer term for HERs and developers will be dependant upon the ways in which HERs are enhanced to incorporate additional information on historic buildings. This will be dependant upon separate cost benefits studies that will be outside the scope of the PPS. However, it is also possible that direct enquiries to HERs from developers and LPAs could increase significantly in the short term. If so, this could increase costs.

However, we strongly disagree with the assumptions made for policy HE 13 on page 62. The assumption states: ‘Most recording will remain archaeological because applications for Listed Building Consent (or for planning permission in relation to an unlisted building) that involve the loss of significant fabric, on a scale that is likely to trigger a condition specifying recording and subsequent publication will only rarely be granted approval' This conflicts with the evidence from the ALGAO planning casework survey for 2007-08 which demonstrated that planning conditions were placed by LPAs on over 2000 planning applications and Listed Building Consents for designated and undesignated historic buildings.

ALGAO:England
October 2009